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December – February
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Bus: 1 £GBP (15 min)
Consisting of 10 islands with 24 cities they are known as the African Caribbean. Yet Cape Verde is still a relatively new travel destination – ask most people where they are and they will be left scratching their heads. Well let us enlighten about the spectacular volcanic islands that make up this nation. They are located some 500 kilometres (310 miles) in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Senegal.
They feature amazing white-sanded beaches, dramatic surf, volcanic landscapes, thick jungle, tropical birds and a melting pot of cultures that includes influences from Africa, Brazil and the colonial Portuguese past. This emerging and increasingly popular destination is waiting to be discovered on Cape Verde holidays.
Winter barely exists on the Cape Verde Islands with Caribbean-like weather all year round. The climate in Cape Verde is milder than that of the African mainland due to the cooling effect of the Atlantic Ocean. The average daily high in February is 23 degrees Celsius (73 Fahrenheit) rising to 29 degrees Celsius (84.2 Fahrenheit) in September and of the 365 days in a year 350 are sunny.
Here’s a rundown of Cape Verde’s islands.
Cape Verde’s second biggest islands, Santo Antao is a great hiking destination due to its incredible landscapes – from the volcano that towers over the island to rich pine forests. This island is great for active visitors, as it offers phenomenal hiking, rock climbing and scuba diving for unforgettable holidays to Cape Verde.
Sao Vincente is home to what is considered to be Cape Verde’s cultural capital, Mindelo, a vibrant city with a strong arts and music scene. That music can be heard in the city’s restaurants and bars by night, but Mindelo also offers some striking colonial architecture to look at by day. Away from the cityscape the beach is a popular windsurfing spot.
The uninhabited island of Santa Luzia can be visited on a day trip from Sao Vicente.
Agriculture is the mainstay of mountainous island and the lifestyle here is very rural making for a very relaxed getaway.
Sal is the most popular of Cape Verde’s islands with tourists. The capital of Sal, Espargos, will be the first point of call for most tourists because it is located where the airport is. However, most tourists head across the island’s lunar-like terrain for the cobbled streets of Santa Maria in the south of the island, which home to an 8 kilometre (5 mile) beach, surf shops, colourful houses, and a historic main square lined with restaurants serving traditional food and al fresco cafes. Tchuklasa, off Santa Maria’s coast, is a group of caves that you can only get to by diving.
The best beaches in the whole archipelago are found on Boa Vista, or translated “beautiful view”. The beaches that encircle the island run for 55 kilometres (34 miles) and are easily as good as those in Caibbean. Praia Chave is the stand out with snow-white stretches of sand and forever changing dunes. Those beaches are also where sea turtles lay their eggs and you may be lucky enough to see them come ashore on your holidays in Cape Verde. Whale watching is also possible off the coast. Most Boa Vista hotels are based in the Curralinho district near Santa Monica Beach. A stay there, means Sal Rei, the island’s capital can be easily reached.
Some 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) east of the island of Santiago you will find unspoiled beaches similar to those found on Boa Vista and Sal but the bonus here is that the island is relatively untouched by tourism and with a population of just 4,000 you’ll feel a lot like you have the place to yourself.
Cape Verde’s first island to be settled and home to the nation’s capital Praia, the original capital Cidade Velha and most of the country’s population Santiago is rich in history and culture. Boasting great beaches and contrasting landscapes dotted with historic towns sandwiched between farmland with papaya and banana plantations and mountains rising 1,200 metres (4,000 feet), Santiago has a rocky coastline scattered with sheltered sandy coves, for the best of beach go to Tarrafal.
Fogo means fire, an apt name for this spectacular volcanic island. The 2,829 metre (9281.5 feet) Pico de Fogo, which erupted as recently as 1995, dominates the landscape. Even now sulphur vapour erupts from Pico through hot fumaroles (vents) in what is an impressive display of the power of nature. The largest city is the historic and picturesque Sao Filipe, that should be definitely visited during Cape Verde holidays.
This small island can only be accessed by boat and offers a getaway from everything. It is the smallest inhabited island of Cape Verde, but has a dazzling landscape of mountain gorges and flower-covered hillsides.
One of the most beautiful islands of Cape Verde; it features mountains, great views, lush green valleys with banana, mango and papaya plantations and, in the north, cosy fishing villages. Santo Antao and Sao Nicolau are the best places for walks and hiking. On the north-east coast there is a dive school from where a number of excellent dive sites can be accessed.
The capital of Sao Vicente is Mindelo which lies at the edge of an old volcanic crater which formed a perfect place for a proected harbour: Porto Grande. For centuries this was a hideaway for pirates until the Portuguese built a castle. Mindelo is known as a centre of culture, especially of the traditional music. Go to the fish-market, walk around and see the colourful colonial houses, visit the beach at Baia das Gatas during your holidays to Cape Verde. Like neighbouring islands of Boa Vista and Sal, Sao Vicente is known as a windsurfer’s paradise.
Sao Nicolau is possibly the least discovered islands of Cape Verde archipelago and is, so far, almost untouched by development and tourism. However, the few people who do visit the island are mesmerised by its stunning scenery, warm and hospitable people and the laid-back pace of life.
The landscape of Sal is quite simply, stunning. The coast is a continuous line of white-sand beaches, interrupted by fishing villages or ports. Santa Maria is the epicentre of tourism and the town is an interesting mix of African and European cultures. Here multi-coloured buildings line the palm-fringed white beach, and running away from the shore there are cobbled streets opening up into squares lined by restaurants and cafes. Known as a vibrant party town the atmosphere here is legendary. It is also the perfect place for diving, fishing, surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing.
Also known as Isle of Sand Dunes, Boa Vista is basically one long sandy beach which rises in the middle, then sloping back down to the sea on the other side. The strong winds prevalent on Boa Vista have made the island an up and coming centre for water sports. Boa Vista’s capital Sal Rei is a beautiful town with many examples of colonial architecture. Facing the town there is the islet where the Duque de Branganca ruins can still be seen, so don't miss the opportunity to look at them on Cape Verde holidays. North of the town is the wreck of the Spanish cargo ship MV Santa Maria, which ran aground in 1968.
The island has huge tourism potential, but for now, there are few organised activities.
The largest, most populated and most African of all of Cape Verde, most visitors come for the scenery, and the walks that lead through the national park down to the coast. However, many areas of the coast are beginning to open up to tourism and water sports activities are being set up everywhere. The first capital and first European city in the tropics - Cidade Velha is now Cape Verde’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fogo is becoming increasingly popular with tourists looking for an experience with a difference. The black volcanic sand beaches, may not be as beautiful as those on the other islands but otherwise stunning landscapes and visitors come from all over the world to hike up to the top of Pico de Fogo.
Brava is the smallest and most remote island, yet most people who make the journey say it is the most beautiful of them all. Due to its cooler, wetter climate, the island is full of flowers and vegetation and the green mountain peaks made for ideal terrain for hiking. Besides, there you can find hotels with attractive prices for cheap Cape Verde holidays.