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Cave diving in Cape Verde

Cape Verde is a perfect destination for the adventurous and curious spirit, and cave diving here means you can fulfil your desire for both thrills and new experiences.

Over the thousands of years since it was first laid down as molten rock, the lava from erupting volcanoes has cooled and formed itself into extraordinary structures and habitats in Cape Verde. You can explore the fascinating underwater environment and its inhabitants from both Boa Vista and Sal.

Top cave diving conditions

Cape Verde is where the cool Canaries current meets the warm water of the Gulf of Guinea, so you'll find both cold-water and tropical fish.

Some are spectacular in their bright colours, some are big – think barracuda – and some with seriously silly names, like the false-eyed puffer.

Lobster live here along with many kinds of crab and mussels. Among the 150 species of small animals native to the area are the familiar starfish and sea urchin – though you might not yet have come across the sea cucumber, which turns itself inside-out when frightened.

The diving season is year-round, with flat seas and the best visibility during the peak season in summer – which in Cape Verde ends in December. Be ready for strong currents – after all, there's nothing between these islands and Brazil.

Staff at the well-equipped diving schools on Boa Vista and Sal will advise you where to go and what to expect.

Buracona Caves and Regona, Sal

Land-based visitors flock to Buracona to experience the Olho Azul – where the sunlight shines through a hole in the rocks creating a blue-eye effect in the water.

Divers get to see this phenomenon from below, and if you visit on a day with strong sunshine you can experience swimming through the magical beam of light. You can also bathe in the beautiful lagoon located by the caves.

The caves are quite straightforward to navigate and as well as the wildlife, you'll find lots of ammunition shells on the sea floor thrown in by retreating Portuguese soldiers.

Around the corner from the unique volcanic cove you'll find another labyrinth of caverns connected by horseshoe-shaped tunnels leading out into the open sea. This site – maximum depth 16 metres – can be entered via a ladder down the rock face, and you can expect to encounter crustaceans and a few big fish.

Tres Grotes – Three Caves, Sal

Just 15 minutes by boat off the coast, this dive site is one of the most popular in the region and boasts three easily accessible underwater caves in a row, varying in size.

The site is teeming with marine life and – with a visibility of between 10 and 30 metres – you'll have fun spotting slipper lobsters, turtles and colourful fish weaving between the rocks.

Dois Olhos and Lahgosta Verde, Sal

Recently discovered by a local diving centre, these caves present some of the most demanding dive sites you'll come across and are only suitable for experienced divers.

The two entrances leading into the underwater rock formation appear as two eyes and stretch deep into the wall, forming a narrow canyon reaching depths of 18 metres. The caves are rich with both crustaceans and fish.

Farol, Sal

Once you've made your descent through the ocean you'll be met with schools of red box fish, a wide variety of moray eels and – if you're lucky – the elusive frog fish.

The site offers multi-level diving with three distinct areas, each comprising of cracks and gorges waiting for exploration and swarming with an assortment of crustaceans. Journey to site is around 15 minutes by boat, and depths here are up to 18 metres.

Shark Point, Boa Vista

Reached by boat from Urbanizacao Lacacao Lote, off the north coast of Boa Vista, this 22-metre-deep wall is pitted with caverns that are popular with sand tiger sharks.

In an average water-depth of 18 metres, you'll find impressive chambers, overhangs, canyons and small caverns, making this dive site different every time you visit.

Shark Bow, Boa Vista

This is one of the most exciting dive sites on Boa Vista and suitable for advanced divers.

After descending to a depth of 22 metres and promptly making your way through the 27 metres of tunnel you'll find yourself in a small underwater yard adorned with caves and overhangs.

Prepare to find sand tiger sharks and giant sting rays, moray eels, lobsters, fire worms, cat fish, nudibranchs and groupers. As you reach shallower water another big cave presents itself, harbouring resting nurse sharks and sleeping turtles.

Bodega de Juan, Boa Vista

There are opportunities and challenges for all levels of diver at this site off the coast of Boa Vista. The dive starts at the opening of a small cavern with visibility of around 10 metres and once in the cave you'll find a ceiling covered with tube anemones.

Inside the cave look inside rock crevices for lobsters, glasseyes and the odd sleeping nurse shark. This site can experience some swell but once you've found your rhythm you'll be enjoying the current alongside schools of chromis, scorpion and parrot fish.

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