Cape Verde is a group of 15 tropical islands that steeply rises out of the Atlantic Ocean. It is located about 350 miles away from the country of Senegal. The land is rocky, hot, and dry, and there is an active volcano on the Fogo Island. The people are of mixed African and Portuguese descent. Most of the people farm the land or fish on its waters, while others mine volcanic rock for the cement industry or work in Praia an important business seaport.
Listed below are the top ten not to be missed places in Cape Verde Islands.
Praia de Santa Maria
The Praia de Santa Maria is a kilometer long white sandy beach with turquoise waters ideal for swimming and hiking. The large beach has the view of the Old Town of Ilha do Sal as its background. It has no natural shades and allows you to practice various nautical adventures, fitness and extreme water sports activities. The rest of the beach is surrounded by hotels and private resorts. The bars support the beach with chairs and parasols that are suitable for anyone wanting to relax, unwind and recharge with the view of the ocean. You can walk for miles and enjoy the sounds of the sea.
The seaport ends at the jetty, dubbed as the “magical” place where one of the trips to the sea recedes. Hiking and sand buggies (quad) are the most preferred way to explore the rest of the large attraction. More hotels are being created and numerous construction sites dominate the entire atmosphere. The beach of Santa Maria, south of the island of Sal, is the capital of apprentice surfers and kite flyers. The persistent trade winds of the Cape Verde Islands are a paradise for the practitioners of these sports and the tourist spot is full of instructors that teach (with great effort and patience) every eager visitor how to ride the waves.
Pedra Lume Salt Crater
Pedra de Lume (or Pedra Lume) is located east of the island of Sal, 5 km from Espargos, and the capital of the island. The attraction owes its reputation to its salt harvested from the 19th to 20th centuries where the island of Sal owes their name. The Saline Pedra de Lume Lake and volcanic crater are part of the protected area in Cape Verde. This is a true curiosity because nothing seems to have changed since the 19th century: the tunnel, rails and rose water basins remain intact despite centuries of use. You can swim in the nearby open lake and stay afloat more because the salt is so dense making it difficult to swim. The artificial lakes that were constructed still produce salt, which is used for own consumption.
This salt marsh is located within the crater of an ancient volcano. You can go around the entire island with a guide on board a 4 x 4 vehicle and take the opportunity to have a ten minute stop at the crater area and admire the whole lake from all sides. There are lots of photo opportunities to capture the multitude of different colors and shades of this scenic tourist crowd drawer in Cape Verde.
Pico do Foco (Cha Das Caldeiras)
The rise to assault the summit of the Pico do Foco is not easy; it is all 1100 meters in altitude without any interruption. But the reward on top is a pleasure with the idyllic view of the calderas below. It takes longer but you will discover the city of Cha Das from another angle and have fun trekking the descent on it’s wildly pozzolan landscape. Guided tours start from the airport of Sal in a small twin-engine propeller and overview of the sea you will arrive at the foot of the Mount Fogo after a great view of the volcano above the clouds. The hike is an interesting two hours of exploring the fantastic scenery, meeting enterprising locals along the way, and explanations of past eruptions.
The path leads through both sandy upward passages, into which one sinks as well as through rocky passages. You can tell that you have almost made it when the smell of sulfur is noticeable. The arduous climb really pays off when you see the crater, the smoky centers and all of the views surrounding this rocky mountain. This hike is one of one of the most impressive of Cabo Verde. The view is more than impressive – one is above the clouds at nearly 3000 meters and has in good weather gain an incredible foresight of the city. After a short rest you will be delighted by a downhill passage glide through the lava fields and you can forget the hardships of the climb. A pair of good hiking shoes, warm clothes and walking sticks is a must.
Buracona Olho Azul
The Buracona Olho Azul beach in is located 5 kilometers north of Palmeira’s desert landscape. It is a natural pool that has a hole in its rock ceiling called the “blue eye”. The sunlight between 11 am up to 1 pm breaks down into the seawater a little off on the uneven rocky coast, during this time the water glows at an intense turquoise blue color. The changing color caused by the refraction of the light on its rocks is what causes the natural phenomena. It is the most photographed moment that opens at the bottom of the cave creating a magical spectacle that is a must for every visitor.
The famous blue eye which everyone is talking about is a very deep cavity created by the rocks in which the sun, entering, creates a series of reflections, so it creates a striking blue reflection that leaves a good impression. It is next to a rock formation step from which the water is trapped and allows the breath taking swim overlooking the stormy cliffs. Buracona can be reached either in a 4×4 rented vehicle tour package and can be done in a half day exploration.
When in Mindelo, you can hire a taxi and bring you to the foot of the mountain within twenty minutes. The journey is spectacular and the view from the top is breathtaking. If the view is clear, one can look over the city and its surrounding harbors, the other side of the island that overlooks well so you get a good impression. The “Monte Verde” with its height of 750 meters dominates the landscape of São Vicente. Green is just the tip and the rest consists of reddish-brown rock. From the summit, the views of the island and in particular the city of Mindelo, the harbor, various bays and into the interior of the island can be appreciated.
On clear days you can see as far away as Santo Antão and the uninhabited islands. There are national guards to secure the mountain and its horde of visitors that reaches its peak during the day. The 360 degree scene of the island provides a beautiful view even in cloudy weather conditions even if the climb is a bit tedious along its winding trails and path.
From the harbor of the Covanquinho, you can privately organize a rented car and driver that can drive you along the old mountain road starting from Puerto Novo up to the Riviera Grande. Above sea level, the hike to reach the 1300 meter high ridge is absolutely worth it. From up here you could look into the Cova crater. The Caldeira of the extinct volcano has a diameter of about 800 meters and is certainly one of the most salient points of Santo Antão. The entrance to the upper part of the summit is a bit hidden and the path to the strenuous steep in the upper part of the Paul Valley but it rewards the spectator with nice views to the sea.
The edge of the Caldeira is lined with trees like; the Canary pines, cypress and other conifers while the bottom is used for agriculture. Take a walk right underneath the crater to see the crops and meet some of the locals who are equipped with a mule and teach you how they get their supply of water. If you love long walks these places are the perfect option. In the summer months (March), a lush green image awaits every tourist on its steep downhill landscape. The descent of over 1000 meters is not easy, but rewarded with incredible views. On the way you meet dealers for coffee which is grown and roasted at the end of the hill. There are small Grogue (local rum) distilleries along the way which are free and open to the public.
The Boa Vista and its dominant nature is an impressive show of volcanic shores, sandy beaches, an arid but charming desert, and with helpful and polite locals who will ensure you have a good stay on the Island of Sal Rei. This beach and its line offer great food that showcases the cuisine of Cape Verde and its rich waters. The place is suitable for many types of water sports adventure like; sailing, surfing, kayaking, and especially fishing where you can catch big game fishes. You can arrange for private tours on board a catamaran and enjoy the rest of the islands.
On a private tour, you can have the opportunity to discover deserted beaches, an authentic village, enjoy a great meal on the beach and see a whale. Visit the house called the Artesanato and see a wide variety of handmade pottery done by the locals, purchase a colored turtle souvenir made of clay to make that trip memorable and help support the livelihood of the charming locals. A visit to the caves, a shipwreck, whale watching and waiting for the turtles to nest and lay eggs along its golden sand beach at 3 am are just some of the activities that makes for an incredible stay in the islands.
Cabo Verde Safari (Sao Vicente)
The tour of the Cabo Verde in Sao Vicente can be entrusted to a reputable local who runs the Joao Private tours managed by his agency. The Cabo Verde Safari Tours offer high quality guide service that is 100 % customized and tailored to the needs of its customers. He knows the island by heart and we took them in deserted but beautiful authentic places, off the beaten track, where tourists and other guides will never trails. Joao speaks outstanding French and other languages and is very cultured. He gives many details about local life, fauna, flora, culture of Cape Verde. It is unbeatable on every detail. The guide is kind and considerate towards their clients.
In a few hours, you discover the most interesting part of the island, the small remote places, typical villages, plus the unusual and breathtaking trails along the way.
Sao Pedro Beach
The small fishing village of São Pedro is at the end of a long, wide sandy beach. Fishing boats, children playing in the background and the view of the São Pedro town rounded offers a good backdrop. At the other end of the bay you will find the hotel Foya Branca, a little further to the west is a path leading to the lighthouse Farol Dona Ana Maria. This walk takes about 1 hour and is thoroughly recommended. In the background of the bay is the airport of São Vicente where the noise of incoming planes can be heard in limited intervals.
The sandy beach is undeveloped for tourism. Indigenous young people come to surf and swim. It has remained untouched to preserve its natural beauty and importance.
Paul Tal is a lush green valley located in the Santa Antao rugged landscape territory. Walking is the only way of getting around. Small terraced fields bare carved out of the steep mountainsides where coffee, beans, papaya, guava and mango trees, vegetables, corn and tomatoes grow in abundance. It is the most fertile valley of the Cape Verde Islands that can be reached by car via the Vila Pombas after a drive on a narrow and unpaved road.
Further down, there is a sugar cane plantation from which the “Grogue”, the local rum is distilled. The rum is made in part or in traditional presses and provides another source of livelihood for the locals.