An up-and-coming alternative to the Canaries, Cape Verde is made up of around a dozen islands in the Atlantic. In spite of its small size, this is a destination that promises diversity, with something to appeal to every kind of traveler. Here are some things you’ll want to know before you go:
Each island is totally different
Every island in the archipelago boasts a distinct landscape and an individual experience. For a beach trip, head to Sal – the resorts here offer everything you need for a hassle-free holiday. Buzzing Santa Maria, with its pristine white sands, is a favourite with visitors.
On the other end of the spectrum is Fogo, a live volcano, peaking at just under 3000m. Locals here live inside the crater. If you visit, you’re in for a memorable experience, whether you decide to go climbing, or head underground to explore the volcanic tunnels.
It is a meeting place of cultures
Cape Verde’s location and history have produced a unique blend of African and Portuguese cultures. It is just 500 kilometres from the West African coast, and Sao Tiago, the largest island, boasts the most noticeable African influences.
From its discovery in the 15th century, however, until as recently as 1975, Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony. The architecture in many towns reflects this European history – such as the colonial buildings in Mindelo, on Sao Vicente.
Cape Verdean cuisine is one place where you’ll see these two cultures come together. In most restaurants, menus offer a mixture of Portuguese and African fare, ranging from seafood to stews.
Warm temperatures all year round
Temperatures in the mid-twenties in January make Cape Verde the perfect place to catch some winter sun. In fact, the islands are at their greenest and most spectacular in autumn and winter. For hikers, beware of the rainy season between July and October – this restricts walking routes on several islands.
The winds in winter won’t give you a chill, but instead create superb windsurfing conditions, especially on Sal and Boa Vista. The waves around these islands are great for surfers too.
The islands are an adventurer’s paradise
While you can enjoy a beach break on Sal or Boa Vista, you’ll really make the most of Cape Verde if you go exploring. The archipelago is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. For hiking trips, Sao Nicolau is a lesser-known treasure. The mountain slopes promise a fun challenge for climbers, while the lush valleys create a stunning backdrop for a gentler hike.
It’s worth remembering that island hopping in Cape Verde can be difficult to organize as stormy seas makes many ferry connections unreliable. Unless you’re taking an extended trip, it’s best to choose just one island as your base. If you do want to visit more, make sure you plan ahead and find a reliable transport route.
With so many different experiences to be had, you’ll be itching to return to Cape Verde time and time again. Every visit to a new island promises an entirely different holiday, so why not start your first adventure now?