Cape Verde, a deep sea archipelago with 10 inhabited islands and 8 additional islets, is a veritable melting pot of Portuguese and African cultures. Its strategic position in the Atlantic Ocean, about 500 kilometers off the coast of Senegal, created an economic benefit to early settlers. Today, after centuries of turmoil, Cape Verde has redefined itself as the most impressive tourist destination in West Africa.
Cape Verde, once uninhabited, was discovered by the Portuguese and colonized in the 15th century. It became an important slave trading post and later a refueling stop for transatlantic shipping. Not until 1975 was independence achieved.
Despite the country’s remote location, the islands have thrived in the 21st century. Today Cape Verde enjoys the most stable African democracy, a high standard of living and a position as one of the most liberal governments of Africa. Marine conservation is also slowly latching onto the islands. The United Nations is spearheading a project to increase the marine protected areas around most of the islands. Today, there are only three major protected sites even though the islands are known as the world’s most important breeding ground for loggerhead turtles.
With gorgeous and varied islands, Cape Verde offers as much above the water as it does below. Known for its happy and singing locals, this archipelago offers visitors a beach vacation like no other.
Fishing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and SUP are all popular excursions. Visitors can also catch up on their history by visiting the still-operational salt mines. Beautiful colonial towns allow visitors to buy their souvenirs in style, and long, white beaches are perfect for lounging the days away. Those who want to know more about the islands’ famous music culture should make a point of staying for the Baia das Gatas Festival in August.
Of course, we won’t blame you if you want to spend all day gazing out at sea with a cold drink in hand while dreaming of your next dive off these magical islands.
There is only one way to reach the Cape Verde archipelago and that is by plane. There are four international airports on the islands of Sal, Santiago, Boa Vista and São Vicente. Flights arrive daily from Europe, Africa and the Americas.
Moving between islands is easily done by domestic flight, speed boat and slower, local ferries. Keep in mind that the schedules in Cape Verde are more like suggestions than strict departure times. Once on the major islands, there are metered taxis to whisk you away to your destination.