Cape Verde hotels
This collection of islands, located 500km off the coast of West Africa has, until recently, been something of a well-kept secret. But it's easy to see why it's becoming increasingly popular.
Lush vegetation and volcanoes are the backdrop for white, empty beaches. Sal, which offers 350 days of sun, is one of the most popular Cape Verde island but the other nine have their own charm.
Arts and culture
Santiago's biggest music festival, the Festival Praia de Gamboa, is held every May on the beach. It showcases modern sounds from Cape Verde, Africa and Brazil.
Things to see and do
Many of the visitors to Cape Verde are drawn by the lure of unspoilt beaches and sunshine, but the islands have much more to offer than this alone. Turtles come to Boa Vista in huge numbers in order to lay eggs, and you can join a tour to watch them, available from July to October. Other wildlife options include whale-watching, between February and May, when humpback whales pass by the island, or birdwatching.
The islands of Cape Verde are ideal for a range of water sports. Try your hand at windsurfing at the beaches of Boa Vista. With their strong winds, conditions here are nearly always ideal. You can also learn to scuba dive, or hire scuba diving equipment on the island from the Submarine Dive Centre, which also hires out kayaks.
For something a little different, venture inland and trek through towering peaks, plunging ravines and awe-inspiring volcanic craters. Guided tours are also available. Try the ascent of the Pico on the island of Fogo, which rises to 2,829m and which provides stunning views over the islands and ocean, or explore Santo Antao, another of the nearby islands.
Eating and drinking
Cape Verde cooking can best be described as hearty, and the main dish is cachupa, a stew made up of mashed maize, onions, green bananas, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and yams, among other things. There are a variety of desserts, most of which are homemade, such as coffee pudding and papaya jelly. The chief drink is grogue (grog), an alcoholic drink made from fermented sugar cane.
Café Criolo in Santa Maria is an unpretentious eatery which serves homemade cachupa, fish stews and tuna steaks. Calheta por Sol on Ponta del Sol offers a mix of European and Cape Verdian specialities, while you can tuck into great seafood on the beach at Chez Pastis on the island of Sal.
For cocktails, pay a visit to Blu Bar on Santa Maria, which also has live music. Sal is the most developed of the islands and Santa Maria, the main tourist area, has a good choice of bars.
Live music plays a large part in Cape Verdean culture, and can frequently be found in bars in Santa Marina. Catch late jazz by big name local musicians at Jazzy Bar on Mindelo on Fridays. For the best Cape Verde music, book ahead at Quintal da Musica on Praia – every night except Sunday.
Many bars will have dance areas. Recommended clubs include Tabu, close to the harbour on Praia, the al fresco Zero Horas, Quebra Coco and Disco Kanaga on Brava.
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