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Holidays in Cape Verde
Like diamonds cast into the Atlantic, Cape Verde comprises of ten unique islands lying off the west coast of Africa. A little further south than the Canary Islands, these volcanic islands with year round sun, have been dubbed ‘the African Caribbean’ with their stunning sandy beaches, dramatic surf, tropical birds and enchanting sea life.
Best time to visit: Year-round
Amílcar Cabral International Airport is the main international airport in Cape Verde. The airport is around 17km from Santa Maria.
From pearly-white beaches to charcoal-dusted volcanic mountains surrounded by lush green mango trees, Cape Verde’s landscape is nothing short of spectacular. On the popular island of Sal, laid-back Santa Maria is where you’ll find some of Cape Verde’s best markets and restaurants, and a seemingly endless powder white beach. Come at the right time, and you might be lucky enough to see a rare loggerhead turtle or a majestic humpback whale. In February, carnival fever spreads throughout the islands. Music fills the air as revellers in flamboyant costumes dance through the streets.
Catch a glimpse of Santa Maria’s pristine white beach and you’ll know exactly why Cape Verde has been nicknamed ‘the African Caribbean’. This is one of the best places in Cape Verde for a romantic stroll. Wander along its golden shoreline and gaze out across the luminous turquoise waters, with brightly painted fishing boats bobbing along the horizon. You’ll find some of Cape Verde’s best beaches on the quiet island of Boa Vista, a short boat ride from Sal. Lie back on the warm, powder-soft sands of Santa Monica beach and imagine you’re on your very own tropical island paradise.
Just under an hour’s drive from Santa Maria is the bay of Buracona, a rocky black cove where you’ll find the dazzling ‘Blue Eye’. Peep through a gap in the volcanic rock and you’ll see a luminous electric blue display, where the sun hits the ocean floor. One of the most exciting activities in Cape Verde is turtle-watching on the islands of Sal and Boa Vista. Join one of the many guided tours to the beach and see female loggerhead turtles as they come ashore to lay their eggs. Magnificent humpback whales can be spotted along the coast in March/April.
One of the most popular attractions in Cape Verde is the Mindelo Carnival in February, when you’ll get to experience the country’s vibrant fusion of Portuguese and African cultures. Like the famous Rio Carnival, it’s a time when people let their hair down, parading through the streets in colourful costumes, decked out with glittering sequins and giant feathers. Locals celebrate by drinking traditional sugar cane rum known as grogue, and tucking into cachupa, a traditional Cape Verdean dish of slow cooked beans and tender chunks of meat or fish. Santa Maria’s markets are a great place to browse for handcrafted souvenirs like beaded jewellery and wood carvings.
Couples: Enjoy long, romantic walks along Santa Maria’s golden shoreline and the unspoilt white beaches of Boa Vista.
Party-goers: Eat, drink and dance with the locals during carnival time in February.
Animal lovers: Catch a glimpse of nesting loggerhead turtles and humpback whales.
Language: The language spoken in Cape Verde is Portuguese.
Currency: The currency used in Cape Verde is the Cape Verdean escudo.
Local time: Cape Verde is 1 hour behind GMT/UK time.
Fly to: Amílcar Cabral International Airport is the main international airport in Cape Verde. The airport is around 17km from Santa Maria.
Flight time from UK: 6 hours
Tourist Information: Further Cape Verde tourist information can be found here.
Visa & Health: Before you travel, click here for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Cape Verde.
Temperature: 24-30 (°C)
Best time to visit Cape Verde: Year-round
Cape Verde’s tropical climate means the sun rarely stops shining, and temperatures average between 24 and 30 (°C) year-round. Winds from the Atlantic Ocean keep the islands from getting too humid at the height of summer. Rare bouts of rain occur from August to October, so spring is best for uninterrupted heat and sunshine.
By mini-bus: Shared mini-buses known as ‘aluguers’ are a great way to take in some of the most popular spots in Cape Verde without breaking the bank. You can flag them down in the street and get off at any point.
By taxi: Taxis in Cape Verde are easy to identify –they’re light blue with a yellow stripe along the side. Know that prices can change depending on the time of day.
By plane: There are regular flights between the islands.
Carnival: Taking place in February, Sao Vincente’s Mindelo Carnival is one of Cape Verde’s biggest annual events. Locals dance through the town’s cobbled streets, dressed head to toe in shimmering sequins and brightly coloured feathers. Pounding samba rhythms fill the air as thousands of visitors join in with the festivities.
Live music: If the idea of lying on the beach while listening to live music is your idea of heaven, then you won’t want to miss the Festival de Musica da Baia das Gatas in August. Jazz, Latin, reggae and traditional Cape Verdean bands take to the stage, with festival-goers dancing on the beach until the small hours.