AT PDM we’ve been raving about Cape Verde for some time. Now, it seems that travel experts across the world are tipping the Cape Verde islands, which bask in the sun just off the coast of Africa, as the hot destination for 2007.
The reasons are simple. Firstly, the islands are still unspoilt by mass tourism and retain a raw natural beauty that will take your breath away. There are impressive mountains and volcanoes to explore, delicious seafood feasts to enjoy and fantastic local musicians to entertain you. Secondly, a trip to Cape Verde takes just three-and-a-half hours flying time from Lisbon. If that isn’t enough, the fabulous beaches, unique culture and laid-back atmosphere are surprisingly affordable. So, join those in the know and visit this former Portuguese colony, where you can practice your Portuguese language skills while enjoying traditional African hospitality.
Nine islands to explore
In all, there are nine inhabited islands to choose from each with a distinct personality. Many visitors chose to explore more than one during their stay. Among the livelier destinations are Sal, Santiago and São Vincente.
Long lazy days and great nights out
The most popular and well established tourist destination, Sal, has become something of a Mecca for surfers and windsurfers, due to the unique conditions created by the trade winds and winter swells. The island of Santiago is considered to be the most African of the islands and is also the largest and most densely populated.
If you enjoy a good night out, you’re sure to have one in the capital, Praia. If it is 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 there, usually staged during August, has blossomed into an international music event.
Back to nature
When you’ve had enough of partying, head for the unspoiled white sandy beaches and desert sand dunes of Boavista. The climate there is influenced by the hot dry winds from the Sahara. In contrast, Fogo, home to a 3,000m volcano, is famous for its 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 are sure 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 local flora and fauna flourish in the cool, humid climate, creating a unique and unforgettable environment.
Prices and standards of accommodation vary across the islands. PDM offers a wide range of options from luxury beachside hotels to island hopping tours.
Cape Verde enjoys a year round mild, sunny climate with average temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees centigrade. Sea temperatures range between a low of 21 degrees centigrade in February and March and a high of 25 degrees centigrade 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.