Located 350 miles off the western coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, Cabo Verde archipelago consists of 10 islands formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Portuguese and English are spoken around the islands, along with the local creole. The weather is sunny year- round and temperatures are around 85 degrees. The destination has something of interest for everyone! Miles of beautiful beaches for those who want a place to relax, mountainous terrain for hikers, and trade winds that make it a popular destination for watersports.
The history of Cabo Verde is an unusual one. Unlike most parts of the planet, the islands were empty until colonialism gave them a population. Portuguese and Genoese sailors stumbled upon Cabo Verde in 1456. Portugal put down the first roots, founding what is now the town of Cidade Velha on the south coast of Santiago island, and Praia followed about 50 years later, becoming the archipelago’s capital in 1770. Initially owned by Portugal, the country gained independence in 1975.
Today, adventurous travelers are drawn to Cabo Verde’s rugged topography, unspoiled landscapes, breathtaking beaches, volcanic coastlines and challenging hiking trails. Depending on the islands, there are both black and white sand beaches, some from white stone deposits in the nearby Sahara Desert, and others black from the volcanic rock found on every island. Active travelers can summit the ancient volcano of Fogo, take an off-road dune ATV adventure, or go horseback riding on the salt flats. For a slower pace, try swimming in a saltwater crater or turtle-watching, as Cabo Verde has the world’s third-largest population of nesting loggerhead turtles.
Sal Island is the archipelago’s most popular destination for tourists and the island where you should start your adventure. Sal is a beach lover’s paradise thanks to its long stretches of golden, sandy beaches which sink into azure-colored waters. For years it’s been a favorite for water sports enthusiasts who love to surf, kite surf, and deep-sea fish. A week on Sal can include excursions to Shark’s Bay to wade among native lemon sharks or Blue Eye, a stunning natural formation of coastal lava pools. The salt trade used to be one of Sal’s primary industries (Sal means salt), and visitors can even float in the salt mine waters in an extinct volcano crater, considered a mini spa for your skin. Sal is also known for what’s below the water - visitors have the opportunity to do some great snorkeling.
The main tourist area, Santa Maria, is on the island’s south end. Santa Maria is home to dozens of beach-front hotels, restaurants, and various activities, so visitors can spend a day taking in the sites, enjoying good meals, and dancing at one of the bars that host local music or nightclubs.
The island of São Vicente, located in the western group of the archipelago, is one of the most diverse in Cabo Verde. Like the rest of the archipelago, it has stunning beaches. However, what truly sets it apart is its dramatic mountainscapes in the interior of the island and its vibrant capital city. Mindelo is home to a thriving art and music scene, with music around every corner. A day tour on São Vincente features a visit to the local fish market, a breathtaking view over Mindelo from Monte Verde (the highest peak on the island), and a stop along the northernmost coast to visit the fishing village of Salamansa. From São Vincente, you can also visit Santo Antão Island by ferry, the westernmost island.
With all of its unique offerings, Cabo Verde is a diamond in the rough, just waiting for you to explore it. Explore Cabo Verde with the All Inclusive Getaway, the Taste of Cabo Verde or the Two Island Cabo Verde tour available with Quest Travel Adventures. Visit before the crowds figure out what a fantastic destination this is!