A group of jungle-clad volcanic islands off the west coast of Africa, Cape Verde has only fairly recently been discovered by mass tourism. Visitors relax on white-sand beaches, do water sports or explore the dramatic natural landscape...
A Portuguese colony until the 1970s, with Portuguese remaining the official language, Cape Verde offers a fascinating mix of European and African cultures.
With an average 350 sunny days a year, the cluster of 10 islands makes a more off-the-beaten-track beach break than a package holiday in somewhere like the Canaries.
The island of Boa Vista is renowned for its vast sand dunes and its beautiful beaches, many of which are under environmental protection to preserve the turtle population of these clear, warm waters. Water sports on offer include snorkelling, windsurfing and diving.
Sal Island has more scenic strips of white sand and a salt lake (“sal” means salt in Portuguese) where bathers can float as if weightless on the surface.
While Sal and Boa Vista islands attract a growing number of package holidaymakers, Cape Verde's rugged mountains and clean seas draw plenty of adrenaline-seeking independent travellers, too.
Cape Verde isn't the kind of place for people who want full British breakfasts every day. It would be a shame to overlook the national dishes, which combine Portuguese, African and Creole influences to delicious effect. Seafood is excellent, and the paellas in particular shouldn't be missed.
Flying almost due south from the UK, the islands are a couple of hours further on from the Canaries...
Direct flights to Cape Verde from the UK take around six hours, landing at either Sal Amilcar Cabral International Airport (SID) or Boa Vista Airport (BVC), on the two main islands. Thomson and Thomas Cook offer the only non-stop flights from the UK, departing from Manchester, Gatwick and Birmingham.
An alternative is to fly via the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, with TAP. The fastest connections from London or Manchester will take around nine hours.
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If staying at resorts on Boa Vista or Sal, airport transfer are generally fast and inexpensive...
The small size of the islands means that a taxi journey from the airport to any point on Sal or Boa Vista should take no more than 20 minutes.
For travellers heading to one of the less-visited islands, inter-island transfers can be made by small plane or boat. You'll avoid delays if you book these connections at the same time as your flights or accommodation.
Most travellers to Cape Verde stay on one of the islands' resorts...
On Boa Vista, most of the beachfront hotels are on Santa Monica beach, in the area of Curralinho. There is also a selection of beach bars and small restaurants hereabouts, although most of the action takes place in the resorts themselves. The island's capital, the small town of Sal Rei, is easily reachable from here.
If visiting Sal Island, you may want to stay at Santa Maria. The major resort on the island, it's set on a five-mile-long beach lined with restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as craft shops and surf shacks. It's low key but has all you need for a restful holiday.