Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I spent time last month visiting some of the gorgeous Cape Verde islands – an archipelago of 10 islands over 300 miles off the west coast of Africa. For a few years now, British holidaymakers have been taking the six hour direct flight to Cape Verde for some reliable winter sunshine, azure seas and white sand beaches. But there is so much more to these fascinating islands. When I went to Cape Verde in February, I ventured to some of the less visited islands and saw a whole other side to Cape Verde – lunar landscapes, fertile valleys growing every fruit and vegetable you can imagine (and some you can’t – breadfruit anyone?), incredibly friendly people, fascinating marine life, fabulous street art and beautiful villages. We hiked for hours on footpaths in the valleys, followed by delicious meals cooked using the very plants we had seen growing. We went out on a catamaran and saw whales, dolphins, turtles and flying fish. The sea is teeming with marine life although we did feel a little guilty about tucking into tuna carpaccio fresh from the sea when we were back on land. Even on the two main islands there is plenty of activity on the water from boat trips and wreck diving to kite surfing. Please read on for some inspiration on how to visit these islands which are now very much at the top of my travel list. Please click here to see more photos from my trip.
The world is really opening up right now and nearly all the destinations Shearwater Travel focuses on are fully open to vaccinated travellers. Some of our favourites, including Jordan and Sri Lanka, have even removed requirements for Covid testing for entry for fully vaccinated travellers. And in the UK, holidaymakers no longer need to take any Covid tests before or after arriving into the UK. But this is not the case for all destinations. Every time I travel, I come across fellow travellers who have failed to check requirements for their destination and are turned away at check-in or spend hours on the airport’s dodgy wi-fi completing online travel forms. So please, please, if you go abroad check the FCDO website (see below) for requirements for your chosen destination. Or book through Shearwater Travel. All our clients receive personalised entry requirements advice.
Fly and Flop
All year round these islands are warm and sunny. So they are great alternative to destinations like the Canaries in winter months. With direct flights to the sandy islands of Sal and Boa Vista taking less than six hours, a week or ten days in a hotel on one of these islands would make for a perfect fly and flop holiday. There isn’t a huge amount to do on either of these islands but if you enjoy sunbathing, swimming in the sea and boat trips with perhaps a day of sight seeing then you will have a great time. Food is generally good with a focus on fresh fish and the local beer, home grown grogue and wine produced on the island of Fogo are great local drinks. Shearwater Travel books clients into either boutique 4* hotels in a coastal village on Sal or the 5* Hilton.
A week on Sal in a 4* or 5* hotel costs from £1103 per person.
As an alternative to flying direct to Sal and then flying onwards to Sao Vicente, it is also possible to fly to Sao Vicente via Lisbon. Lisbon is a lovely city and a great place to spend a couple of nights and break up your trip either on your way out or back. The main town on Sao Vicente, Mindelo, is considered the cultural capital of Cape Verde with live music and good restaurants. There isn’t a huge amount to hold you on the island but a night or two here before taking the boat to Santo Antao will allow you to see the best of the island. We would then recommend staying a few nights in two different areas on Santo Antao where you can walk in the fertile valleys and north east coastal region. Accommodation is mainly in simple but comfortable accommodation.
10 nights with self guided walking costs from £1530 per person including flights and transfers. A guided walking option is possible.
Visit the southern Cape Verde islands
This ten day trip takes you to the southern islands in the archipelago. First to Santiago for its colourful markets, sleepy coves, sandy beaches and decent walking before flying to Fogo, with its dramatic volcanic landscape and dormant volcano. Your trip will include a guided tour to the crater with a short walk on the lava fields and a full day guided tour of the island. Or you can choose to hike up to the crater with a guide. Finish your trip to these islands with some time on Maio – one of the least visited islands in the archipelago – and relax on its white sandy beach.
From £2255 per person including all flights and transfers.
If you have the time, then how about spending two weeks seeing the highlights of both the northern and southern islands in the archipelago. You’ll spend time soaking up the bustling markets on Santiago, explore the vibrant cultural capital Mindelo on Sao Vicente and drive the spectacular cobbled mountain roads of Santo Antao. You’ll walk through the fertile Paul valley passing terraces full of fruit and vegetables and gaze up at the imposing volcanic peak Pico de Fogo on Fogo island which only erupted in 2015. Finally, stay on Sal at one of the best hotels of the Cape Verde archipelago perfectly positioned on Santa Maria beach. On your last full day, take a sailing trip out to see the island from a different perspective.
From £3340 per person including flights.