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Paradise beaches, year-round sunshine and adrenaline-pumping adventures: there’s a reason more and more Brits are heading to Cape Verde for a holiday.
Relatively new to the package holiday scene, Cape Verde – a ten-island nation floating off the coast of Senegal – is fast becoming a popular option for its reliable weather, white-sand beaches, and epic wildlife experiences.
Most people head to Sal or Boa Vista, both of which are just a six-hour direct flight from the UK. For beach lovers looking for an all-inclusive holiday, it’s hard to go wrong with either island.
Besides beautiful beaches (of which there are plenty), both islands combine a mix of culture, adventure and wildlife. Windswept Sal is popular with windsurfers and surfers, while Boa Vista is a prime spot for whale watching. When you fancy a break from your hotel, Santa Maria (Sal) and Sal Rei (Boa Vista) offer local nightlife and dining.
After an off-the-beaten-track experience? The islands of Fogo, Brava and Santo Antão are harder to get to (you’ll need to fly from Sal or Boa Vista) but well worth the effort. Much lusher, you’ll find volcanic peaks and black-sand beaches, ideal for hiking, adventuring and even biking.
The island of São Vicente has great nightlife and hosts Baía das Gatas, a three-day festival held each August when the town of Mindelo turns into one big party. Outside festival season, Mindelo has lively bars, nightclubs and restaurants where you can try cachupa, a slow-cooked stew, and grogue, the local firewater.
For a relaxing beach holiday, the resorts on Sal and Boa Vista are a good start and attract the lion's share of visitors. For culture, São Vicente and Santiago reach through the ages with a melting pot of influences, while Fogo is ideal for hiking and backpacking.
Sal is a good choice for a fly-and-flop holiday. It has Cape Verde’s main airport, so it's relatively easy to reach. It also has some of the archipelago's best beach resorts, such as the five-star Hilton Cabo Verde Sal.
Boa Vista is another popular spot for a relaxing beach holiday. There are many resorts and hotels around Santa Maria Beach, which is near Deserto de Viana and the nesting loggerhead turtles.
As a rule, the lesser-visited islands such as Fogo and Santo Antão – which you get to by short connecting flights or ferry – are more affordable, with cheap hotels and guesthouses set up for a hiking holiday.
You’ll find budget hotels and hostels on Sal and Santiago islands, too.
The all-inclusive resorts by Praia de Chaves on Boa Vista have great packages for all budgets. If you’re looking for an affordable family holiday, consider the four-star Iberostar Club Boa Vista on Praia de Chaves with its many pools, evening entertainment, and kids' clubs.
Staying on Sal? The coastal town of Santa Maria has a number of all-inclusive resorts, too. The VOI Vila do Farol Resort with its large pool on the beachfront is great if you’re travelling with children, or just want to be close to town.
If you're looking for a romantic holiday, Sal has a good collection of adults-only luxury resorts. Those around Santa Maria put you within walking distance of the town and seafront for a romantic after-dinner stroll and cocktail.
Boa Vista is more of the same, with lots of adults-only hotels to choose from. If you’re a couple who like a DIY holiday, São Vicente is a lively island, while Fogo is brilliant for hiking.
São Vicente is the cultural capital of Cape Verde – and for good reason. It's the former home of singer Cesária Évora, known as the Barefoot Diva. The exhibition at candy-coloured Palácio do Povo tells the story of Cesária Évora’s life, and the Museu do Mar, a short walk away, displays shipwreck finds, from a 200-year-old bottle of port to giant elephant tusks. Stay near the main city of Mindelo for boutique hotels and local guesthouses.
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