If you ask anyone who’s been to the Cape Verde islands to describe them using only ONE word, that word would be this: Surprising. The reason is obvious: this is one of the most diverse countries on the planet. A real Kinder Egg destination.
With landscapes ranging from white sandy beaches and red deserts, to lush forests and tall mountains, and with 10 beautiful islands to choose from, each with their own unique character, there is sure to be something here for everyone.
Whether you are the adventurous type, a family with young children, or a culture junkie, we’ve got you covered.
So here it is, the ultimate, short and handy guide to Cape Verde.
A Little Something for Everyone
If you’re into the pre-packaged holiday, then Sal and Boa Vista are your most likely destinations. With their family friendly resort hotels, long stretches of white beaches and clear, azure water, they are a favourite with families, group travellers and seasoned beach bums who love to work on their tan.
For the adventurous type, Fogo island with its active volcano is a must see. And if you enjoy wind surfing, the island of Sal is going to be your happy place. Santa Maria Bay is great for beginners, and Ponta Preta is a challenge, even for the expert.
Divers can plonk down just about anywhere on the isles, and enjoy the scenery underwater. With coral reefs, tropical fish and even a few ship wrecks to inspect, you’ll enjoy yourself here.
And if you love animals, you can even go in the water with Lemon Sharks at Shark’s Bay. But don’t worry, they are not as bad as you think. Actually, they are rather friendly.
For culture lovers, the old capital Cidade Velha on Santiago has to be on the list. It was the first city created by European settlers, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. The next port of call should be the town of Mindelo on São Vicente. Poets, musicians, and artists flock to this place which was once the home of the popular singer Cesária Evora. This is where you will also find the best nightlife on the isles.
Stunning Views and Climate
If you are a nature buff, every island will have something truly fantastic to offer. A trip to the Deserto de Viana on Boa Vista will look and feel like a trip to Mars. With its red earth and sand dunes, it’s out of this world!
For another unique nature experience, visit the Pedra de Lume volcano crater on Sal island. The crater is filled with salt water, with a salt content 10 times that of seawater. So, don’t drink it. But by all means, take a dip. You’ll float pretty like a feather.
Let’s not forget as well Santo Antão. The green gem that most likely gave this island nation its name. It’s a tiny slice of paradise with its tropical, green forests, farmed valleys and fruit trees.
In Cape Verde, you can find a surprising variety of climates, as you might have guessed by now.
Also, the climate is a lot milder in Cape Verde than in mainland Africa. You won’t get the same scorching heat here on the isles. The record highs and lows, are 40 and 10 degrees Celsius. But the average temperature is around 25-30 degrees, which is just perfect.
As usual, in tropical places, there is a rainy season in Cape Verde. So, from July to October you might get a little wet. But the showers don’t last long, and will probably just feel refreshing after baking in the hot summer sun. Besides, two of the islands, Sal and São Vicente, stay mostly dry, even in the rainy season. So, if you want to visit during that time, you know where to go.
The best time to visit though, is from November to June.
Safe and Friendly
Cape Verde is a very safe place for travellers. With the exception of the odd long-fingered fellow, there is little crime in the region. LGBT visitors are also welcome here, and have more legal protection than what you’ll usually find in Africa.
It is also one of the most stable democracies in Africa, and the former US president Barack Obama called it “a real success story”. And compared to most African nations, Cape Verde is a healthy place. Most of the diseases that you would encounter on the mainland, are not found here. Of course, the food may not be what you are used to from back home, so mind your stomach.
The only possible hiccup security wise, would be if you visit Fogo when the country’s only active volcano is having a bad day. Unless of course, you like it hot. In which case – bring marshmallows.
A Taste of Creole
The Cape Verde inhabitants are mostly Creole, a mix of European settlers and West African slaves. And this Creole influence you can also see in the cooking.
The first yummy treat you should try, is Cachupa. It’s the national dish, which is a hearty stew that will keep you fuelled for a few hours. Or, if you prefer something lighter, try the Canjo (chicken soup).
One thing you cannot get away from on Cape Verde, is seafood. As an island nation, their best source of food is the sea. And the best thing about it, is that every piece of fish that you get is super fresh.
If you are looking for great restaurants, some of the best can be found on the island of Sal. Barracuda is a cosy and casual seafood restaurant, that also serve great cocktails. And Compad is a favourite among those who want to sample some of the local dishes.
Catch A Festival
From February to August, there are lots of festivals held in the Cape Verde islands.
Starting with the carnival in February or March, which is celebrated on every island. Although, the biggest parties are usually on São Vicente and São Nicolau.
Next up is the Flag feast on Fogo in April. And in May, you have got to catch the Gamboa Festival on Santiago. This is the biggest music party on the islands, with international musicians also dropping by to play.
In June, you’ll have three festivals to choose from: Tabanka (Santiago), The Violin Festival (Santo Antão), and The Festival of São João.
And finally, in August – don’t miss the Baia das Gatas, the full moon music festival on São Vicente.
“Good To Know” Traveller’s Tidbits
Most of the country’s population of about 550.000 live on the island of Santiago. This is also where you will find the capital Praia. The official language is Portuguese, but the locals also speak their own creole dialect. But don’t worry if you the only language you speak is English. That shouldn’t be a problem. At least not on the more touristy islands, like Sal, Boa Vista and Santiago.
The local currency is the Cape Verde Escudo, which you’ll have to exchange to once you get there. There are ATM machines about, but they can be a bit moody. Better to have some Euros or Sterling handy just in case. Some hotels and restaurants will also accept credit cards and Euros as payment.
There are no less than 7 airports here, but only 4 of these have international flights. The busiest is Amílcar Cabral International Airport on the island of Sal (also known as Sal International Airport). This is where you’ll most likely be flying to and from.
When you want to go island hopping, the local airline TACV is a good option. But book in advance, as the seats are limited. A cheaper alternative, would be going by ferry.
And for getting around on the islands, you can either rent a car, or hop on a Yasi (shared taxi or minibus).
Ready to Pack Your Bags?
Cape Verde is a safe and family friendly destination, with plenty to offer all who visit. The only trouble you’re likely to face, is that these islands steal your heart. You might not want to leave.
Come and experience Cape Verde for yourself with our affordable investor tours.
To speak to one of our team simply click Contact, leave your details and we’ll be in touch to arrange your adventure to Cape Verde!