When exploring West Africa, the island nation of Cape Verde just off the coast of Senegal is often overlooked. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, this hidden gem is something of a forgotten paradise and a haven for those wanting the perfect summer island getaway. With year-round sunshine and an average temperature in the high 20s (Celsius), you’re guaranteed to enjoy your time in this breathtaking volcanic landscape. However, Cape Verde is more than just a tourist destination. It has a rich and fascinating culture influenced by both Portuguese and African settlers there and as a result is a fascinating place for music lovers, amateur gastronomers and art aficionados alike. Whether you’re interested in exploring the landscape on foot, jetting through the crystal clear waters surrounding the islands or simply relaxing on one of the many beaches, Cape Verde needs to go straight to the top of your list of travel goals.
If you’re a born adventurer, then Cape Verde is the perfect place for you. The islands there have everything from hiking to windsurfing to scuba diving amongst dolphins, sharks, whales and shipwrecks. Can you possibly think of a more exciting way to spend an afternoon? Due to its unique location and the formation of the islands, Cape Verde is ideally positioned for indulging in all sorts of outdoor pursuits.
Perhaps the most well-known attractions here are the water sports. The islands of Sal, Boa Vista and Maio boast some of the best kite- and wind-surfing conditions on the planet, enticing both casual enthusiasts and professional competitors. Local Mitu Monteiro achieved international recognition as Kite Surfing World Champion back in 2008 and, with the added recommendation of other world sporting champions like Josh Angulo, has put Cape Verde firmly on the map. There are plenty of surf schools to choose from whilst you’re there, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fan wanting to try out some epic breaks.
If you’d rather keep both feet planted firmly on solid ground, strap on your hiking boots and head to one of the mountain ranges spread across the islands. The contrast between the towering mountains above and the lush green valleys below is a treat for the eyes of any traveller. Santo Antão in particular epitomises the idea of an Eden-like wonderland.
The fusion of different cultures apparent in Cape Verde leads to a fantastically varied nightlife. The capital city of Praia offers a smorgasbord of entertainment including live music, clubs, bars, and soon a new luxury casino and resort just off the coast. In Praia, you can sample freshly caught seafood with an ocean view, sip one of the local cocktails or catch a live show of the popular music called morna. Until the $300 million resort is finished early next year, you can check out what’s available online instead or dance to the rhythmic blend of African and Latin beats at one of the many lively nightclubs.
Festivals happen often in Cape Verde and are always accompanied by a riot of colour, costumes and celebration. Similar to West Indian or Brazilian carnivals, traditional music and parades of dancing participants characterise the typical festival experience and this can take place across almost all of the different islands. Whatever time of year you visit, you are likely to catch one of these unforgettable events where you can dance, laugh and learn about the local culture to your heart’s delight.
Rest & Relaxation
After all that excitement, a well-deserved rest is waiting for you on one of Cape Verde’s many pristine sandy beaches. The white sand and the deep blue of the sea look almost too good to be true, but they are indeed real and accessible for most of the year. So make sure you pack a paperback, your sunhat and beach towel before laying back and letting the warm breeze carry all of your troubles far out to sea.
Although still not well known as a hot vacation spot, Cape Verde is starting to garner international attention from the tourism industry. As with the multi-million dollar casino and resort development happening in Praia, investors are putting a lot of time and energy into establishing the best visitor experience possible in the country. This is a really exciting time to visit the islands as there is so much positive progression happening there, combining the existing energetic vibe of the community with cutting edge modern advancements.
The islands are the ideal place to indulge your creative side, with beautiful vistas providing perfect inspiration for photographers, painters and writers. Once you’ve sampled even just a pinch of this slice of heaven, you’ll want to capture it to take back home with you. It is a truly captivating place and one which will call you back again year and year – that is, if you can ever bring yourself to leave!