Just three-and-a-half hours flying time from Lisbon, the volcanic Cape Verde islands, which bask in the sun just off the coast of Africa, are rapidly emerging as an ideal holiday destination for those seeking a Caribbean experience without a Barbados style bill at the end of the holiday.
So why not join those in the know and visit this former Portuguese colony, where you can practice your Portuguese language skills, while enjoying traditional African hospitality? There are impressive mountains and volcanoes to explore, delicious seafood feasts to enjoy and fantastic local musicians to entertain you. But it’s the beaches and the laid-back lifestyle that attract most visitors to Cape Verde.
Nine islands to explore
Long lazy days and
great nights out
Now a popular and established tourist destination, Sal has become something of a Mecca for surfing and windsurfing due to the unique conditions created by the trade winds and winter swells.
With its many music festivals, Santiago is considered to be the most ‘African’ of the islands. It is also the largest and most densely populated. If you enjoy a good night out, you’re sure to find one in the capital, Praia.
If it’s music and culture you’re after, plan a visit to São Vincente, the home of the unique sounds of Cape Verdean music. The three-day Baia das Gatas festival, usually staged during August, has blossomed into a music event that attracts an international crowd.
Back to nature
When you’ve had enough of partying, head for the unspoiled, white, sandy beaches and desert sand dunes of Boavista, where the climate is influenced by the hot dry winds from the Sahara. In contrast, Fogo, home to a 3,000m volcano, boasts several stunning black sandy beaches. One of the highlights is Salina de São Jorge, a natural swimming pool protected by black reefs.
Sea turtles often visit the nearby white sandy island of Maio to lay their eggs and, no wonder, this tranquil spot remains unspoilt and almost forgotten by the rest of the world.
A visit to Santo Antão Island is also recommended. Considered by many to be the most spectacular of all of the islands, its stunning mountain range, deep green valleys full of tropical vegetation and rugged coastline, can’t fail to impress. Fishing fans will love São Nicolau, where blue Marlin flourish in abundance, while naturalists will revel in Brava, the wettest and greenest of the islands. Enveloped in a near-permanent mist, the climate is quite humid and generally cool, with temperatures ranging between 16 and 25 degrees, and the local flora and fauna flourish in this comfortable climate, creating a unique and unforgettable experience.
Prices and standards vary across the islands. PDM offers a wide range of options from luxury beachside hotels to island hopping tours.
Cape Verde enjoys a mild, sunny climate with average temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees centigrade. Sea temperatures range between a low of 21 degrees in February and March, and a high of 25 degrees in September and October. Avoid the rainy season, which runs through August, September and October, when the weather can be unpredictable.
PDM verdict: Cape Verde is an unusual, great value destination. The short flight time is ideal and, with nine diverse islands to choose from, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.