Tucked away in the mid-Atlantic, you’ll find Cape Verde and its cluster of exotic isles that are often favourably compared to the Canary Islands.
With 10 islands making up the Cape Verde archipelago, each one boasting pristine beaches, shape-shifting deserts and a whole lot of sunshine, it can be confusing to get to grips with these beautiful little corners of sun, sand and sea. But don’t worry, we’re on hand to explain.
The most populated areas are the islands of Boa Vista – which translates to ‘great view’ in Portuguese – and Sal, which translates as ‘salt’. They are Cape Verde’s two main resorts and each provide very different experiences.
Sal – Hot beaches and hotter nightlife
Being the more built-up island of the two, Sal attracts the most tourists thanks to a fantastic variety of resorts and activities that suit every kind of holidaymaker. This oasis of deserts and dormant volcanoes offers blissful beaches, world-class water sports, and some excellent fishing spots. By world-class water sports, we mean water sport enthusiasts from all over the world head here during its windiest months of January and February, to take on the islands renowned waves. If watersports aren’t your thing, don’t worry there’s plenty of beach to sunbathe on instead including the famous golden beach of Santa Maria in the south.
When you’ve had your share of tanning time there’s Santa Maria – the islands busiest town. Here you’ll find craft stalls, traditional restaurants and an 8 kilometer stretch of beach bars to hop between.
Top Tip – Keep an eye out for the flag system if you’re planning on swimming in the sea. For those of you who are unsure, red means stay clear, yellow means be careful, and green means you’re good to go.
Best for – Those with a taste for adventure whilst still having the opportunity to relax.
Where to stay in Sal?
Boa Vista – Getting back to nature
With a name that translates into ‘Beautiful View’ – Boa Vista is exactly that. Offering a much more authentic feel than its neighbour island Sal, this is the place to go for the ultimate unwind. Wrapped up in 55 kilometres’ of footprint-free beaches, you’ll feel like you’ve landed on your very own island. Even its capital, Sal Rei is one of the quietest you’ll come across, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. You’ll be able to explore its colonial-style buildings, impressive church and do a spot of souvenir shopping in peace and quiet.
Top Tip – Boa Vista is the third most important loggerhead nesting site in the world. So, if you’re a lover of wildlife June and September are the best time to see the baby turtles hatching.
Best for – Sunbathing, sipping cocktails and immersing yourself in traditional Cape Verdean culture.
Where to stay in Boa Vista?
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Culture and countryside
Cape Verde’s two main and most populated islands are definitely appealing – and if you book a big enough trip, you can take in both islands and a few more besides.
That said, you’re now equipped to make a decision based on the differences between Sal and Boa Vista. The former is the tourism hotspot of bright lights and shopping trips, while the latter gives plenty of old fashioned charm and unspoilt landscapes.
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