Cape Verde, an archipelago of ten islands in total, has only become a tourist location in the last fifty years. It has a surprisingly moderate climate for West Africa, as it is separated from most of Africa by cool ocean currents and offshore winds, with a maximum average day temperature of nearly thirty degrees Celsius from May to November.
There are some amazing activities on the islands, from wind-surfing to trekking to diving. The island of Sal has the most easily accessible diving sites just a few minutes from the beach, and for beginners there are many dive centres – the Scuba Advisor website has some handy hints on the best companies and when to visit. Its underwater sights include reefs, caves and wrecks, including the site of the Santa Maria shipwreck which is home to some spectacular wildlife. At the right time of the year, you may even hear the sound of humpback whales singing to each other, as the waters are a safe breeding ground for them – in Sal, the peak season is usually in June and July, whereas the nearby island of Boa Vista is slightly earlier in March and April.
On Boa Vista, Maio and Sal, you can witness turtles laying their eggs on the beaches between late May and September – an amazing sight. Several turtle conservation organisations work to protect these endangered prehistoric creatures. A ferry system connects the islands, meaning that holidays to Cape Verde are perfect for a variety of activities, whatever you want out of your trip. If you’re exhausted after whale watching, or hiking on the hills of Santo Antao, the village of Pedra de Lume (which means “fiery stone”) in the south of Sal is home to salt mines and lakes where visitor can enjoy a curative salt bath.
São Vicente is the cultural destination to visit in Cape Verde, with a host of musicians and writer in residence. Several styles of music have come from the island, including morna and coladeira, and in the south of the island lies the cultural centre which is full of African market stalls, and an annual beach music festival. The rainy season is from mid August to mid October, although even during these times it may go weeks without any rain, and kite surfing is at its best in the early months of the year. Cape Verde is definitely not just a summer destination, with activities to keep you occupied all year round.