Cape Verde Holiday
Cape Verde is a fairly new destination of West Africa. Despite increasing charter and cheap holiday deals towards tourism Cape Verde is still not very exploited. The town of Santa Maria on the island of Sal, is the most common holiday destination of all the Cape Verde islands, but even outside of Santa Maria town one will find genuine Africa. Cape Verde is located just west of the African mainland with Senegal and Gambia as the closest neighbours.
Some tourist get disappointed expecting the Canary Islands, but Cape Verde is nothing like that. In fact everything is different. Sal or Boa Vista are just desert sandy and flat resorts, and does not offer big shopping malls, tons of guided tourist attractions or McDonalds in every corner. In fact you will probably find yourself as the only tourist in sight when exploring the Cape Verde islands.
The islands are fairly close together but still offer extremely various nature and activities. Come here with an open mind and Cape Verde islands will give you a true and genuine experience of Africa.
Facts Cape Verde islands
Area: 4 036 km2 (1 558 square miles)
Population: 500 000
Language: Portuguese, Crioulo
Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant
Currency: Cape de Verde escudo (you can also pay with euro)
Information about the Cape Verde Islands
The Republic of Cape Verde consists of 9 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometers (350 miles) off the coast West of the African mainland.
Sal, Boa Vista and Maio are flat, dry and sandy deserts, but you will find great beaches. Santo Antáo, Sáo Vicente, Sáo Nicolau, Brava and Santiago, are rockier and have much more vegetation. Fogo is the only island with am active volcano.
You can get around the Cape Verde islands by boat or air traffic. Almost every island has their own airport. The weather is warm and comfortable all year around. Most flights to Cape Verde from abroad goes to Sal or Boa Vista, and Santa Maria town is the most common tourist destination. Cape Verde is known for having loggerheads turtles laying their eggs on the islands of Sal, Boa Vista and Maio. Sal is also a mecka for water sports like windsurfing and scuba diving. It is always windy in Cape Verde Islands, but the weather is still warm and sunny, and it rarely rains at all.
Keep in mind that Cape Verde is unexploited and unpolished and many locals are very poor. Few people shop for fun rather than necessity, and there are no shopping malls or fancy fashion stores. Restaurants often serve simple fish based dishes. The supermarkets sometimes have poor selection of foods at expensive price and many “roads” are just wheel marks in the sand. With this said, the beaches and ocean are exquisite and the people are very friendly and helpful.
Until 1456 Cape Verde islands were uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese who claimed the islands as their first west african settlement in 1460.
In the 1540s, the islands were then populated one by one and Cape Verde were declared a Portuguese colony. Positioned between Africa, Europe, and the New World, the islands became center for the slave trade, and later a shipping port.
In 1680, the vulcano of Fogo erupts violently.
1770, Praia becomes the Capital.
1772 and 1902, a series of droughts hits Cape Verde islands, leading to significant emigration and death.
1956 is the starting point for Cape Verde independence through PAIGC, which leads to war against Portugal.
In 1974 the Portuguese regime falls and Cape Verde independence is declared in 1975. Aristides Pereira becomes the first president.
1992 – The first multi party elections is held in 1992 and Mascarenhos Monteiro becomes president.
1995. Fogo has another eruption.
Present time, the tourism is starting to bloom and direct flights from the UK is available since 2006. Sal and Santa Maria town is the most common destination, followed by Boa Vista, and vendors from Senegal and Gambia soon finds their way to the islands to sell west African souvenirs to tourist. Till this day, Sal is still under construction and development towards tourism, with a promise of large hotel complexes and growing constructions sites. In a couple of decades, one can probably expect a full grown tourist inferno at Cape Verde islands, at least on Sal.
It’s recommended to take a vaccine against hepatitis A when traveling to Cape Verde islands. Some people take vaccines against both hepatitis A+B to be on the safe side. You need to take hepatitis A vaccine at least 2 weeks before you travel to Cape Verde islands, or hepatitis A+B vaccine at least 1 month before you travel (twinrix). There are no mosquitoes in Cape Verde or Sal, so you don’t need to take any Malaria medicine / vaccine as in other African countries. Also bring some medicine to prevent stomach problems just in case. Be aware of what you eat and wash your hands frequently, and there should be no problems at all. Skip the vaccines against “tourist stomach” unless you have special needs.
All foreign nationals except citizens of ECOWAS countries, Angola, and South Africa must obtain a visa to enter Cape Verde Islands. Some traveling agencies takes care of the visa automatically when booking. But if not, you need get your visa in order before you travel, this can take about 1-2 weeks. It is also possible to file for visa when you arrive at Cape Verde airport at a cost of about 50 euro.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after you return. If your passport is valid for say 4 months after return for example, you can still get your visa at your country’s consulate before you travel. Contact the consulate for more information. To be on the safe side, make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after return when travling to Cape Verde islands.
The currency is called Cape Verdean escudo, but it’s also possible to pay with euros. Note that it is illegal to bring Cape Verdean escudos in or out of Cape Verde islands. This means you need to exchange money once you arrive to Cape Verde. Nobody takes credit card, only cash, and there can be problems using a Visa/Mastercard at the ATMs. (there are some ATMs in Santa Maria town). Help from the bank can take days if unlucky. The safest thing to do is to bring a lot of euros and exchange for escudos at location in Cape Verde Islands, or simply pay with euros at slightly higher rate.
Cape Verde islands has the most comfortable climate and sunny weather all year around. It’s been said that the weather is born in Cape Verde and therefore hard to predict. One thing is for sure, a climate offering 350 days of sun every year and hardly any rain at all, no need to worry as a holiday traveler! Despite the constant wind, the warm and sunny weather all year around makes Cape Verde islands an especially attractive resort for those who try to escape the snow during winter time. The wind is slightly calmer in the period of april to november. January and february are the windiest months of the whole year, but still offers very comfortable temperatures at +25C. The water temperature in Cape Verde islands will never go below +20C.
Things to do
Sal is the most exploited of the Cape Verde islands towards tourism, but visitors are still chocked over this unpolished and desert destination. Get your info and facts straight before traveling to Cape Verde avoiding disappointment. Cape Verde islands and Sal is heaven for sunbathing, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, watersports, diving & snorkeling, but as a regular tourist you might feel that the waves are to high and there is nothing to do. If you expect Cape Verde Islands or Sal to be something like the Canary Islands you might even get disappointed. An open minded and adventurous traveler on the other hand, can easily spend 2-3 weeks on Cape Verde and Sal with loads of activities and discover this beautiful desert island away from tourists, but there is no time to be lazy!