I haven’t yet discussed my trip to Cape Verde (or Cabo Verde, whichever you prefer) in detail, but only because half of my pictures from the trip are of me on the beach, in a spa or lounging beside a pool; it was hands down the most relaxing holiday I’ve ever been on. The small, Portuguese speaking collection of islands off of the North-western coast of Africa, are known for their tropical climate- however, Sal (the island that I stayed on) is known for it’s beaches, clear water and luxury beach resorts.
I visited a lot of beaches during my trip, and I could go on forever about each one as each experience was different and amazing memories were created- but instead, I’ll share with you the best ‘beach-themed’ experiences that I had during my trip; including where to see the best beach sunset, where to spot sea-life, and where to get the best photographs…
RELAX ON THE ALGODOEIRO BEACH
The Algodoeiro Beach was hands down my favourite out of all the beaches I visited in Cape Verde. Between the turquoise sea water and mountainous sand dunes that you can kill time walking across, it is the ultimate location for tranquility. The crashing of the waves makes it impossible to pay attention to any other undesired sounds around you, and the view of the sunsets are amazing (seriously, if you’re there in the evening you’ll be amongst many other people trying to capture the perfect sunset shot).
The Algodoeiro Beach beach is huge, meaning there’s always a spot that isn’t so populated, and from what I witnessed- the waves are perfect for surfers (they looked huge and that’s when I was viewing them from the top of a sand dune). The Algodoeiro Beach is also the backyard to many beach resorts, (including the Melia Tortuga Beach Resort in which I stayed) and home to the Bikini Beach Club- a stylish restaurant, bar and private pool (think Ibiza style, but to a smaller scale). If you’re looking for other beach activities, you can go horseback riding or rent jet skis.
WALK WITH SHARKS IN SHARK BAY
Shark Bay, located in Santa Maria, is the perfect opportunity to ‘swim’ with sharks… without actually swimming with the big boys. By wading 40 meters (approx) into the thigh-deep water, young Lemon Sharks (which can grow up to 3.4 metres in length) will happily swim around you as they’re comfortable with being closer to shore, and in close proximity to people. The rocks can be a little slippery along the way, and many people will offer to sell you waterproof shoes once you’re there (essentially cheap crocs); I didn’t need any, but if you’re with younger children they may need some.
There are many different tour groups which will drive you to the Santa Maria Bay, and tell you a little more about the sharks- my guide even found several Sea Urchins in the water, and let us get a look at them up close. You can however, hire a car and make the journey on your own. The Sharks are completely calm and weren’t threatening at all (cute, if anything)- but of course, we were advised not to walk too far out as that’s where the bigger Sharks tend to lurk. Pictures don’t photograph too well due to the water, but if you have an underwater camera- nows the time to bring it out.
FLOAT IN A SALT MINE
There was once a time where Cape Verde’s Salt Mines were the Islands biggest attraction, and largest source of tourism income. Whilst people now visit the island for numerous other reasons, the Pedra De Lume Salt Mine still proves to be a popular attraction for those seeking beautiful scenery and a time for relaxation. For the small price of five euros, you can enter the Pedra De Lume, located in the crater of an extinct volcano, and spend time floating in the salty lake. The water is reportedly twenty-seven times saltier than regular sea water- meaning, if you aren’t a confident swimmer (like me) all you can do is float anyway! It’s also a bonus that the salt has healing properties, and is really great for the skin.
When visiting the Pedra De Lume, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and a swimsuit- an odd combination I know. The salt lake is surrounded by beautiful, naturally rugged landscapes in which you can walk around. Do not bring with you any valuable possessions; this location is often visited by groups of tourists all at once, so leaving your belongings on the side whilst you go for a dip is the ultimate scenario for things to get lost/stolen.
There is a small cafe located on site in which you can grab a few drinks (but don’t rely on this as it is really small). Of course, the optimum time to enjoy your visit to the salt mine is when the views are most beautiful, and it’s less crowded. Try planning your day trip on the clearest, sunniest day that you can- you may be able to see the salt pans glow white and pink under the sunlight. Be sure to avoid the busiest times of day (e.g. midday) if you want peace and quiet.
Cape Verde is home to an ancient and endangered breed of Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Female Loggerhead Turtles are known for coming to shore during the night to choose a spot to bury their eggs- leaving them hidden from predators and hunters whilst they hatch. After laying her eggs, the Turtle covers her tracks and heads back to sea; she never returns for the babies, who later crawl above the sand and head out to sea once born. Unfortunately, there’s been an increase in hunters and tourists targeting the adult turtles and even the babies- however, there is still a way that you can witness this amazing event without any disturbance.
Under the supervision of conservationists, beach rangers and guides, you’ll be able to watch the Turtles come to shore and choose a spot for their nests (you’ll have to watch from a distant crouched spot in the sand). Once the female Turtles lay their eggs, they go into a ‘trance’ where they aren’t completely aware of their surroundings- this is when you’ll be led up to her from behind, to get an up close view of about fifty eggs being laid. This is a great experience to tick off of your bucket list, and also the safest way to do so for the Turtles.
TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS ON THE ‘EMPTY BEACH’
Whilst this beach isn’t the best if you’re looking to sunbathe or chill (unless you prefer completely desolate beaches with not much in it’s surroundings), it is the best location to capture any beach-themed pictures; imagine your dream beach photoshoot where you don’t have to photoshop anyone out of the background. This beach features a tall, deserted, wooden structure which is a great spot for you to take a break out of the sun or in my case, do a few outfit changes.
VISIT THE BURACONA LAGOON
The Buracona Lagoon is an amazing, natural sea cave and grotto with luminous blue water against picturesque ‘lava’ rocks; this is definitely a place where you’ll want to capture pictures. The ‘blue eye’ is a popular tourist spot located here, in which you can view the iridescent cave water surface light up at certain times of day. Unfortunately, it’s extremely hit or miss so I can’t advise you on which times of day that is exactly; but if you get lucky, the pictures of the blue eye always turn out amazing. On the bright side, the blue water grotto is spectacular if you’re into geographically stunning views, and a unique place to go swimming in.
There are a few restaurants located nearby meaning you can make the most out of your day trip to the Buracona. To get there, you need to travel through plain flat desert land- either by car, or if you’re feeling more adventurous; motorcycles, quad bikes or Jeeps.