Cape Verde Travel Guide
A group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the West African Coast, Cape Verde often escapes the attention of even seasoned world travellers. Consisting of 12 islands who see almost no rain throughout the year, its nearly deserted beaches make it a great place to soak up some serious rays without having to battle the crowds.
Being uninhabited before the 15th century, it may not be the best place for history buffs, but being home to a variety of cultures, possessing a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its natural assets will make up for this lack of variety.
Currency: Cape Verdean escudos
Languages: Portuguese, Kriolu
What To Do
Cape Verde tends to lack historic and cultural sites, but those that crave these attractions will want to check out Fortaleza Real de San Felipe. Sitting on the hillside above the town of Ribeira Grande, this fortress was built after a series of privateer attacks shattered the sense of security that this isolated archipelago had due to its lack of strategic and economic importance to the Portuguese Empire.
Part of UNESCO World Heritage site which commemorates Ribeira Grande being the oldest European colonial outpost constructed in the tropics, the fort maintains its imposing walls in the present day, which contains cannons and a sweeping view of the island and ocean below.
Meanwhile, museum fans will want to check out the Archeology Museum of Praia. An intimate space that holds artifacts recovered from shipwrecks over the years, it can be a little difficult to find.
However, the effort will be worth it, as you will find jewellery, pottery, coins, and many other interesting items that have been plucked from the many ships that have sailed into its shallow reefs over the centuries.
Always been meaning to check out the Dead Sea throughout your travels, but have never gotten around to it? While you are visiting Cape Verde, paying a visit to the Pedra Lume Salt Crater can be a quick and easy way to tick this travel experience off your list.
Situated in the crater of an extinct volcano, this body of ultrabuoyant water will lift you up just like its famous cousin in Israel and Palestine. If you wish to relax afterwards, there is a cafe on site, or you can get a drink and snack while revelling in the experience that you just had.
Those looking to check out a truly remarkable natural sight will want to head to Olho Azul. Translating directly into English as blue eye, this visual wonder is produced by sunlight streaming down through a cave filled with water.
The light refracts so that it is visible to spectators situated at the exposed portion of the cave, producing a vibrant blue compared to the darker blue water around it. Visitors to this place can go swimming, but it is recommended that you do not dive deep down into this watery abyss unless you are specially trained in exploring caves.
We would be remiss if we did not mention the primary reason why people visit Cape Verde: its many fabulous beaches.
Start by checking out Praia de Santa Maria, as it is carpeted with white sand and it comes with some of the most amazing crystal clear water that you will find anywhere on the African coast. With plenty of local fishermen bringing in the catch of the day, there are many restaurants along the beach that will provide an excellent venue for a relaxing seafood lunch or dinner.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, spend a day on the sands of Praia de Chaves. While the surroundings are beautiful enough for casual travellers to enjoy a relaxing day here, those looking for activities will love surfing in its big Atlantic waves and sandboarding down the gigantic dunes found further down the beach.
What to Eat
While Cape Verde is situated a fair distance away from the Indian subcontinent, Chamuças are one of its more popular snacks. Identical to samosas in virtually every way, this pastry snack contains spicy beef, pork, fish and vegetarian-friendly substitutes, making this snack imported from Goa a go-to hunger killer between meals.
Speaking of imports, Feijoada is another meal you will find throughout Cape Verde. A bean stew cooked with beef and pork and with whatever vegetables happen to be on hand, this hearty meal will ensure that you make it through the rest of the day without having to grab a snack.
Those looking to sample the national dish of Cape Verde will not want to leave this archipelago without tracking down some Cachupa. This slow-cooked concoction of meat, corn, cassava, sweet potato, and beans, this is a unique dish on an island where most meals come from elsewhere. If you order so much that you have some left over the next day, do what islanders do and fry and serve it up with some eggs and sausage at breakfast.