Dubbed 'The African Caribbean', Cape Verde is quickly becoming the hottest new destination to spend your holiday. Cabo Verde as it is properly known is a group of ten islands which lie 350 miles west of Africa, off the coast of Senegal. This up and coming destination started gaining popularity in the celebrity world in 2014, so expect in 2015 for it to be the must-go holiday destination! The two main islands you want to head for if you fancy a relaxing beach holiday are Sal and Boa Vista. The other islands tend to be generally rockier, have more vegetation and are less developed for tourists. With golden sands, crystal clear waters and lively surf, Sal and Boa Vista have all you could want and more from an island getaway. If you want all the weather and views of a Caribbean island but don’t fancy the long flight, then these islands would be perfect for you with just a 6-hour flight from the UK.
As a former Portuguese colony Cape Verde is a real melting pot of different cultures, with African, Portuguese, Brazilian and European influences seen throughout the architecture, food and music. The national dish is ‘cachupa’, which is a type of stew consisting of mashed maize, onions, green bananas, manioc, sweet potatoes, squash, yams, tomatoes, cabbage and possibly bacon. It’s a definite must if you want to sample the local cuisine. If you fancy a bit of the local tipple then ‘Pontche’ is what you need. Made from grogue (a Cape Verdian ingredient that can be substituted for dark rum when grogue is not available), sugar-cane molasses and a mixture of spices, Pontche can come in a variety of different flavours such as coconut or orange. But be warned, this drink is sure to knock your socks off! The island of Sal, named after it’s salt mining history, is known for its sheer amount of white sands. With a very flat landscape, clouds don’t hang around much above this island so it’s sunny most of the year, with very little chance of rain. The main resort is Santa Maria on the Southern coast. With great hotels, watersports, bars, restaurants and pastel-coloured houses, this is one of the most tourist-friendly resorts on the island and offers what you would expect from most developed tourist destinations, but without the hustle and bustle and over-crowding. From the main beachfront you can explore the pier where fishermen bring in the day’s catch, swim in the clear blue waters or stroll through the cobbled streets and browse the small shops and traditional craft stalls. If you want to see more of Sal then an island tour is a great option. You could visit the harbour city of Palmeira where the majority of exports and imports come to the island, head to the centrally located capital of Espargos or take a sea salt bath in the former salt mine at Pedra Lume. Whether you want to relax or get out there and explore, Sal has something to suit your holiday wishlist.
Boa Vista, located South of Sal, is another great option for holidaymakers. The third-largest and eastern-most of the islands, Boa Vista offers a more authentic Cape Verdian experience than Sal as it has thus far been less developed for tourism. But this island, which translates as ‘Beautiful View’, is still worth a look if you fancy a slower paced holiday. Most of the hotels are located in the Curralinho district, with easy access to the capital of Sal Rei. With bright surf shops and cafes, this is a lovely little town to spend some time in during your stay. Another draw of these islands are the sea turtles. There is a great effort in Cape Verde to protect these animals so you can find protection agencies working on some of the beaches, which can be a great opportunity to see the nests and help support the conservation work. In terms of weather Cape Verde has year-round sunshine and on Boa Vista and Sal there is very infrequent rain, so whatever time of year you visit you will mostly like experience great temperatures and sun. Annual temperatures average at 26° Celsius and even in the winter months of December to March it barely drops below 19° Celsius. The warmest month tends to be September with highs of around 36° Celsius, but these warm temperatures can carry on into October and early November. The islands also experience a lovely breeze, which makes for great windsurfing and surfing, a very popular activity among locals and tourists.
Although Cape Verde may be a newcomer on the holiday scene, it’s definitely one to look at for it’s beautiful scenery, culture, friendly locals and less-developed resorts. With it’s growing popularity if you want a slice of the action before it becomes a tourist’s paradise then make sure it’s your destination of choice this year! The only question is now, which bikinis to take with you?