Cabo Verde or Cape Verde is an archipelago of ten diverse and beautiful islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Cabo means cape and verde green. We wonder why in english it is called cape verde, not cape green. However, not all islands are as fruitful as the country’s name would let assume. Indeed, Sal island is quite the opposite. There you find sand dunes, long beaches, big waves and strong winds.
GETTING THERE & VISA REGULATIONS
Sal island is easily accessible with international flights. We booked our flight with TAP Portugal, a star alliance member and very good airline. Our journey started in Munich and was combined with a stop over in Lisbon. Read more about that here. Also other islands have direct international flights such as to Boa vista and to Santiago. In terms of visa regulations for EU citizens it is very easy to get a visa. You only need to preregister on the EASE page and pay around 30€ for a 30 day visa, longer stays have to be requested at the embassy.
WHERE TO STAY ON SAL ISLAND
Whereas historically, the island Sal was a big supplier of salt and fish, nowadays most of the people live from tourism. Also Cape Verdeans from other islands move to Sal to profit from its fast expanding tourism. Anywhere on the island you can find ongoing constructions. Many of them come from international investments to build new hotels and resorts. Especially TUI is very present here. Most of the touristic life happens in the village Santa Maria, where we stayed too.
Casa Pau – the place to be
Our choice fell on the small guesthouse Casa Pau and we could not have made a better decision. After a long journey from Lisbon we arrived with one hour delay at 1 AM at Sal airport. The pick up was very professional and organised via Casa Pau. Already in the taxi we received a small welcome note from the owners, saying that there is water, tea and cookies waiting for us in the room and they are looking forward to greet us personally the next day in the morning. This small gesture made a big difference. We were extremely thirsty and did not have any money to buy water – the cash machine at the airport was empty and our last cash money was spent for the transfer. Make sure you have cash with you!
Clean rooms & clean water
Worth to mention here that Casa Pau has a water filter system which keeps the amount of consumed plastic water bottles to a minimum. Yeah! When we arrived at Casa Pau, our expectations were exceeded and the guesthouse was even more beautiful in real. Immediately you could feel that the owners Rui and Berta have put their heart into the guesthouse. Everything is very clean, harmoniously decorated with natural elements and thoughtful details that make you feel home. It was so easy to relax here! Also Rui was extremely helpful with any request we had, especially with our search for a new accommodation in Santo Antão; more about that in our next post.
SANTA MARIA – Locals vs. Tourists
Lets take a closer look at the village of Santa Maria. It is very easy to get an overview of the small area, but definitely mass tourism has arrived here. The center consists of several streets, parallel to the sea. Some of them are perfectly constructed and it is difficult to say on which place of the world you are. Other streets might lack perfection in the eye of a tourist but have kept the local spirit. There, restaurants replaced the old white chair with coca cola branded furniture but you can still taste food of the region and interact with the locals. Our suggestion: the more you walk away from the sea, towards the land, the more authentic places you can find and interact with locals. Cape Verdean people are extremely nice and helpful. We felt very welcome and safe in Santa Maria, also during night time.
WHAT TO DO ON SAL ISLAND
Sal island is the perfect destination for water sports. Here you can improve all types of surfing skills and increase your level of tan.
Kite surfing is the main sportive activity why people come to Sal island. One of the kite surf world champions is even from here. Logic, that in and around Santa Maria you can find many schools that offer kite surf lessons for all levels. As beginners we tried it as well. Our suggestion to other beginners: take enough time for learning it. The wind is strong and waves are big. Our dear friends, who do kite surfing and all others who practice this sport: R.E.S.P.E.C.T!
Although Sal island is not very famous for wave surfing it has some great spots to offer. Through out Santa Maria there are many surf schools that offer kite, wind and wave surfing which are happy to help you finding the perfect time and wave. Well known surf spots are directly at the pier of Santa Maria or Ponte Preta. Beginners and intermediates can find beautiful rides if they just bring enough patience 🙂 A wetsuit is not necessary because the water is quite warm, however it is recommended to bring a lycra to protect you from the sun. Also the surf spots are quite rocky, so be careful during low tide.
Relaxing time at the beach
If your muscles hurt from all the surfing or if your mind needs a time off, then it is the perfect moment for doing NOTHING. Take your bathing suit, high protection sun screen, a towel and spend the day at the beach of Santa Maria. Forget the plank challenge and start the beach challenge. Allow yourself to relaaaaaax.
Turtle project biodiversity
Yeah, there are other things to do besides surfing! Cabo verde is one of the world’s beautiful nesting and hatching places of sea turtles.
Light pollution & stray dogs – a growing danger for turtles
In the south of Sal one can find resort hotels, smaller hotels and bars that are located at the beach. There, turtles are nesting next to the tourist zones and light pollution and stray dogs are one of their main enemies. So to prevent hatched turtles going the wrong way towards the light instead of the white wash of the sea, the organisation relocates the fresh eggs to another less touristy beach. During the hatching season, daily at 5 PM the project biodiversity introduces their mission to protect the sea turtle from extinction here at Sal island. They also play a big part in educating tourists and locals by explaining the impact of our consumer and living behaviour. Until now, there are some laws that protect the sea turtles, but as mentioned above, Sal is growing and sadly many many beach resort hotels are about to be built – pollution will grow even more. If you would like to read more about the organisation or even support them by volunteering or a donation, you can do this here.
Of course, also Santa Maria has its own yoga studio and we went there to check it out for you. Yam Yoga Studio is located outside of the center and only 2 minutes walk from our accommodation. There are daily morning and evening classes and mats are provided by the studio. The yoga teachers, Marta and Sheena are very warm hearted persons who offer a wide range of different yoga classes. We attended the yin yoga and energy flow class – we loved both!
Apart from those we mentioned above, the following other activities were offered on the island but not personally experienced by us: snorkelling, sailing, scuba diving and wind surfing.
NEXT STOP: SANTO ANTÃO
We hope you liked our small introduction to Sal island and are happy to help with further information. Feel free to ask us and stay tuned until our next blog entry about the amazing island Santo Antão!