Sal is one of the most popular of the ten Cape Verdean islands, located just off the North West coast of Africa.
If you’re looking for a slice of authentic African landscape and culture, you will still very much find it here but with undeniable European influence prevalent amongst its architecture, language and religion. The mix of the two makes for a beautiful place to visit. You will be amazed by the amount of different languages you hear in Sal, yet English seems to be amongst the few. Portuguese and Creole are the native languages, where I admit I felt pretty in my element having grown up in Portugal!
Along with its beautiful stretches of sandy beaches and turquoise blue water, the barren African landscape, the sand pans, the incredibly delicious food, the warm weather year round and the vibrant and buzzing streets of Santa Maria, Sal should definitely be on your bucket list of places to visit.
I flew out for a week in mid January with my friend for a week of relaxation. The flight is just short of six hours, which actually seemed to go by extremely quickly. As I landed and left the airport, I was instantly surprised by the raw and undeveloped state of the island. Still so untouched by tourists, with long stretches of barren desert land and salt flats for miles. A country that has not yet properly been discovered nor built on or developed by the tourism industry. An island with heaps of potential and beauty, unfortunately crying out for development and tourism. I guarentee it will be a very different place in five to ten years with development plans for new hotels and casinos already under way.
Sal is famous for its wind. It is one of the worlds top destinations for wind and kite surfers and you will often see hundreds on the beaches and worldwide competitions taking place here. The wind was quite strong when I was there but in the summer months it gets less so and makes sunbathing that bit more pleasurable, not that it wasn’t, but a wind shelter is definitely recommended. The average temperature when I was there was around 25 degrees but in the summer months it warms up to the late 20s/30s.
The town of Santa Maria is an idyllic fishing village dotted with Crayola-coloured buildings, cobbled streets and palm trees on every street corner which has given way to it name as ‘The African Caribbean’. Walk along the strip in the evening and dance away to live bands, reggae bars and friendly locals dancing and drinking in the streets. There’s also a handful of amazing restaurants along here and the food is divine. Lots of local fresh produce and fish is one of their specialities. Try a small restaurant called ‘O Carangueijo’, translated as ‘The Crab’ in English. It’s rather humble exterior doesn’t do justice to its mouth-watering menu. Try the Black Squid Ink with Seafood. It will leave you literally salivating! *Drool *
With the local mantra being ‘No Stress’, there is a nice sense of calm and uninhibitedness on the island which I absolutely loved. It was so easy to feel at peace and relaxed. Chilling on the beach was my favourite pastime throughout the week ( no surprise there, I’m sure). Although, if you know me, I do also love a good party and good music and one place that is quite different due to its more luxurious and modern vibe is ‘Bikini Beach’. A beautiful beach club stretching fourty metres in to the ocean which boasts amazing views from its modern white terraces. Bikini beach is perfect for day parties watching the sunset over the Atlantic ocean whilst listening to local and international DJs spin their tunes.
Another reason I am keen to return is due to the amount activities and things there are to do on the island, which due to my persistence in ‘just chilling’ we didn’t get round to do! However, I hope by some of the images and video, you get a feel for the beauty and rawness of the island. You can go shark watching, quad biking, kite surfing, island boat tours, floating in a salt mine and many more, so if I were you I would plan a trip to the secret spot of Sal, Cape Verde, whilst it still remains as untouched, authentic and as beautiful as it is.
Loie x x