Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, off the western coast in Africa, is rapidly emerging as a popular tourist destination. I was slightly sceptical about what to expect on my visit to Sal, but I was pleasantly surprised. Driving through the Island you are surrounded by beautiful scenery of dry deserts and inactive volcanoes. Santa Maria, the main tourist area in Sal, consists of beautiful brightly coloured houses, market stalls, restaurants and a long stretch of golden sand accompanied by clear turquoise seawater. No wonder people are describing it as the Caribbean of Africa! This place is so beautiful.
But why should you visit Cape Verde? Let me tell you why…
For those of you reading this from the UK, this is the perfect holiday destination if you don’t want to travel too far for a beautiful beach and some hot weather. A flight from the UK to Sal is approximately 6 hours, not bad at all! There is also plenty for you to do here, such as…
Visit the Buracona Lagoon!
Here is where you can find the “blue eye”, which unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see. When the sun’s rays hit the natural pool from a certain angle, it lights up the “blue eye”, to what is apparently an outstanding shade of turquoise blue. Next to the blue eye is a natural lava pool, as shown in the pictures below. I eventually plucked up the courage to jump in, and I loved every minute of it! This was without doubt one of my favourite things to do in Cape Verde. Even the surroundings are worth the visit, consisting of several km of flat desert and Mountain Monte Leste. It is definitely worth the visit!
Go Bathing in the Salt Lake!
In Cape Verde, Portuguese is the islands spoken language. ‘Sal’ actually means ‘Salt’ in Portuguese! I learnt that Sal was an important source for salt during the colonial times, hence why it was named Sal. So it would be silly not to visit their renowned salt lake!
Pedra de Lume is a must-do experience! The salt lake is situated within a volcanic crater and is so salty, that it is virtually impossible to sink! This experience was so relaxing and left my skin feeling amazing afterwards.
Try Cape Verdean food!
If you love fresh fish and seafood, then Cape Verde is the place for you. With a Portuguese flair and a touch of African spices, the flavours are amazing. You can even watch the fishermen bring in their catch and observe the locals clean the fish on the harbour pier. If you love fresh fish and lobster, try restaurant Terrace Lounge, situated on the Santa Maria beachfront; you can thank me later! However, if you are not a fan of seafood then not to worry, there are plenty other restaurants to choose from.
Go on a boat trip!
Santa Maria is ideal for water activities such as diving, waterskiing or even horse riding! I did a half-day trip on a catamaran in which I got to see plenty of flying fish. I was also given the opportunity to jump into the sea and snorkel, which some brave individuals did do.
Buy from the locals!
The locals were very friendly and welcoming. The stalls really did have some amazing items, from paintings, to wooden carvings, to homemade baskets. If I had more space in my luggage I would have brought it all! The locals were very generous; they would try and give you a gift, just for looking at their stall! They were very sweet indeed.
Santa Maria is very lively in the evenings, especially from Thursday through to Sunday. There are several bars and nightclubs that play international music, but I personally preferred the local clubs where they played Kizomba music and danced Kizomba. Amazing!
Lastly… Where to stay?
Sal is the island in Cape Verde that has the most tourist development; there are plenty of luxurious hotel complexes to choose from. On my visit I stayed at the Melia Llana beach resort & spa. I could not fault this beautiful all-inclusive resort as it had everything I needed and more. The location was perfect as it was a couple of minutes walk to the beach, as well as the luxurious bikini beach club, which is a must visit! This resort was a kids-free zone, however, they had a family version next door called the Melia Dunas beach resort & spa, which I also visited and loved!
I hope I have provided you with enough reasons to visit the beautiful Cape Verde. Safe travels!
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Love always, G. x