Cape Verde Holidays
It's rare that a new destination comes along, offering a blast of warm, year-round sunshine, comfortable flying time, and soft, silky beaches. So when it does, you'd expect them to be deluged with holiday makers, intent on discovering the next 'must-visit' place. Thankfully, holidays to Cape Verde offer everything you'd want for a relaxing week or two, and a gentle, unhurried way of life as well. Seems that, despite obvious attractions of Cape Verde, the secret's not totally out of the bag yet! These dramatic islands, just off the coast of West Africa, could well be your favourite new holiday spot.
Holidays in Cape Verde begin and end on the beach. The Trade Winds which blow onto the beaches of Boa Vista are great for surfing, but you can find a spot out of the breeze too, should you wish to laze the day away. The islands all have miles of empty, undeveloped coastline, so you can find a private spot too. Holidays in Cape Verde begin and end on the beach. But, then, even in the resorts, the beaches are hardly what you'd call crowded. There's simply too much sand to go around. Santa Maria beach is a photographer's (and sun worshippers) favourite and Sal's beaches offer the irresistible combination of powdery, clean sands washed by warm turquoise waters. This really is the closest you'll get to the Caribbean this side of the Atlantic.
Africa is only 300 miles away - and you can taste it! Cuisine in Cape Verde is as influenced by the spices and colours of Northwest Africa as it is by the fruits of the sea. Add a little Portuguese passion into the mix and you've got a melting pot of wonderfully tempting dishes, freshly cooked, and the opposite of anything resembling 'fast food' or, for that matter, anything you've experienced before. Cape Verdean dishes favour dried corn, stews made with beans and meat (or fish), crisp patties and kebabs, and filling pastries (sweet and savoury) for great picnics on the beach. The brave, who try the island's goat stew, are rewarded with a deliciously tender alternative to beef and chicken.
Cape Verde Holidays - Tropical Sun
There are colourful markets dotted around Sal and Boa Vista - look out for them, as it's here you'll find the best bargains (and better quality, often) in textiles, crafts and incense. Look, too, for pretty necklaces and bracelets. Santa Maria, on Sal is, probably, Shopping Central (not that anywhere on the island is exactly retail heaven), so check out its covered markets for African masks, bongo drums, straw hats and other ridiculously touristy pieces, but good fun nonetheless. Ceramic production is widely practiced. Traditional methods are used to create striking mosaic tiles, lamps, bowls and the like.
Colourful, and athletic Senegalese dancers are responsible for most of the island's energetic floorshows. Elsewhere, in the warren of bar-lined streets in Mindeol's historic core, you can hear the wonderfully evocative Cabo Verdean music (a bit like the Portuguese Fado - a lament, usually, to the tough life of the sailor). São Vicente produced the "barefoot diva" Cesária Évora, Cape Verde's greatest musical export, and her music is heard everywhere. For a touch more rhythm, Brazilian music is favoured in the island's lively discos, revealing the islands' strong Portuguese cultural links.
Do take time to explore this intriguing archipelago - at first the islands seem very barren, but they hide many beautiful spots. A good tour should include the island's lush valleys, dramatic peaks and nature sanctuaries. If you're fit, you should try a spot of trekking. Santa Antao is the island to visit, with its unspoiled interior reaching a memorable crescendo at Pico de Fogo - a stunning volcanic cone. Diving is also world class. Just make sure you don't go out of your depth (literally) as there are some seriously impressive submerged caves and shipwrecks off the coast of Santa Maria on Sal and Mindelo on São Vicente. Back on dry land, the island's bird life is astonishing. A guided tour is a must, to experience it in all its colour and chorus.