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Diving in Cape Verde

With 10 main islands, 8 additional islets and a burgeoning tourism industry, Cape Verde is a siren’s call for divers. Here you will find modern wrecks, fantastic caves and brilliantly colored reefs.

Diving in Cape Verde

Quick facts

At the meeting between tropical waters and Atlantic currents, Cape Verde is a wonderland for divers of all levels. Diving in the country is still in its infancy but the plethora of marine life and variety of underwater environments mean this country is sure to become one of the top dive destinations in the world.

Diving is so far possible on 3 of the 10 inhabited islands although more dive shops and spots are sure to open as tourism to the country expands. The most developed island for tourism, Sal has the most accessible dive sites. There are 25 sites surrounding this island which also hosts the most dive shops. Shallow dives progress to deeper waters from the long and sandy beaches. The most southerly island, Boa Vista, is the newest tourist center in Cape Verde. Here strong currents scream past the island, drawing in large pelagic species. Finally, Santiago is home to the area’s famous wrecks. More than 14 sunken ships are dividable off the north coast.

With a variety of temperatures ranging from 66 - 81°F (19 - 27°C), both a 3mm and 5mm may be appropriate depending on the location and season. Diving is accessible year round, but the best season lies from April to November. Between colorful volcanic walls, cathedral-like caves and several well-preserved wrecks, Cape Verde delights for divers with a variety interests. You are sure to be amazed not only by the interesting environments but also by the wide variety of marine life from humpback whales to the flying gurnard.

When to go

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USD 871Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers

What to see

With the cooler Atlantic currents and warm tropical waters, Cape Verde is magnet for all types of fish. Colorful corals, sandy bottoms and black lava rocks create interesting backdrops for macro life like nudibranchs, pipe fish, and crustaceans. Octopus, squid, shrimps, crabs and spiny lobsters shyly hide away among the rocks. Plenty of reef fish, eels, sea snakes and sea spiders frequent the colorful volcanic walls. Schools of barracuda, groupers, tuna, wahoo, wrasse and stingrays are commonly spotted and a variety of sharks including lemon, hammerhead, nurse, mako, tiger and bull can be seen riding the currents. Loggerheads, leatherbacks and hawksbills use the area as a breeding ground and during the summer, manta rays are occasionally seen. The lucky few may dive with pilot whales or the humpback whales that breed near Cape Verde.


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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.

Other attractions

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.

Getting there

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.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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