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Visiting Cape Verde – Everything You Need To Know

Where is Cape Verde? 

Technically an African state, Cape Verde lies 620 kilometres off the coast of Senegal. Because of this disconnect between the scenic region and the rest of Africa, there’s far more of a tropical feel to the country. Sandy beaches are the norm, with lush areas of greenery dotted throughout. 

Cape Verde

Owing to its former colonial roots, there is a strong Portuguese flare present throughout the region, with the food, music and traditions reflecting that perfectly. This gives a feel of the Mediterranean despite being part of Africa. 

Far from just one mass of land, the archipelago actually consists of 12 islands, nine of which are inhabited. The largest of these, Santiago, is teeming with history, having at one point been a large trading port. It, much like its 11 counterparts, offers the perfect climate for those looking to relax in the sun, while also absorbing local customs and traditions. 

What to do in Cape Verde 

Unsurprisingly for such an exotic location, there’s a myriad of activities for any traveller to get involved with. Here are just a handful of fantastic options to choose from: 

Snorkelling. Most of Cape Verde’s islands are perfect for snorkelling, but it’s arguably Sal which provides an unforgettable experience. Described as somewhat of a lover’s paradise, this spot is fantastic for those looking to experience a unique adventure with their partner. 

The best spot comes about 50m off the coast of the town of Papaia. Here you’ll find an underwater statue, which has been taken over by local sea life. Bright aquatic flowers of orange, red and yellow are the perfect contrast to brilliant diamond blue of the ocean. 

Kitesurfing. One for adrenaline junkies, this extreme sport is available to try on pretty much any island within the area. The best variety for all skill levels can be found on Boa Vista. The winds here are mild enough for beginners to cut their teeth, while further out from the shore wind speed picks up enough to make it a challenge for more experienced heads. 

Once you’ve had enough of kitesurfing, you can relax on the beach with a mojito, while tucking into a traditional Portuguese BBQ. Don’t worry if you’re not a natural, to begin with. Kitesurfing is a tricky discipline, which can sometimes take years to master. 

Hike up a volcano. Tackling the challenges of a volcano might sound like something from Greek mythology, but it can be a reality if you’re off on a trip to Cape Verde. Head to Folgo Island where you’ll find the imposing figure of Pico do Folgo.

With a peak of 2,829 metres, this behemoth dominates the entire island. The houses and local communities you’ll find here are something completely different than your used to back home. After a volcanic eruption which occurred back in 2014, the Cha people evacuated the area, only to move back once the chaos had settled.

Their profound connection with their ancestral home has seen them rebuild on top of the wreckage. The result? A 700-strong community living in blackened huts, in the middle of a crater wrought by the volcano. Truly unique.

Quad biking. A little more down-to-earth, yet no less exciting, quad biking is another adventure sport which simply cannot be overlooked. You can choose to dual-bike it with an experienced driver, or take the quads out on your own (with a guide also coming along on the journey with you).

Naturally, with such a high octane sport, it’s advised that you take out the right kind of travel insurance. While spills are unlikely, there’s always the chance you could take a tumble while driving one of these powerful machines. 

Bathe in the salt sea. For those looking to leave the excitement of quad biking and kitesurfing behind, a dip in Pedra Lume’s salt sea is well worth a try. What was once a giant crater has become a basin for a vast expanse of salt-heavy water, ideal for relaxing in. 

There’s actually a higher consistency of salt here than can be found in the famed Dead Sea, so even those with absolutely no confidence with swimming can get involved. The presence of this naturally-occurring substance means it’s practically impossible to sink. 

How safe is Cape Verde? 

It would be wrong to suggest Cape Verde is without danger, but things are definitely moving in the right direction. Crime is usually an internal affair, with the Government reporting very few incidences involving British tourists

Robbery and muggings are the most common crimes to take place on the islands, so be sure to keep your possessions close at all times and only take out the necessities. 

When it comes to natural elements, the aforementioned volcano on Folgo Island is technically still dormant. With the last eruption happening as recently as 2014, it should be a long time before the next one. 

Important numbers to remember when you’re in Cape Verde are:

If you’re a British tourist looking to get in contact with the embassy, you can contact them using these details:

Shell Cabo Verde Sarl

Av Amilcar Cabral CP4

Sao Vicente

Tel: 00 (238) 232 66 25/26/27

Fax: 00 (238) 232 66 29


It’s also worth noting the government in Cape Verde is currently stable. There have been no terrorist attacks in recent years and the likelihood of one happening is relatively small. 

What else do I need to know about travelling to Cape Verde?

Let’s explore some of the other important need-to-knows ahead of a holiday to this African archipelago.

Flight time: Flight times to Cape Verde are what you’d expect, given the relatively remote nature of the islands. Average times are around six to six-and-a-half hours when flying out of London Gatwick. Flights from other UK airports are available. 

Capital city: Praia. Found on Santiago Island, this city has been the capital of the region since as far back as 1770. To this day, it remains the cultural, political and economical hub of the country, housing roughly 30% of the total inhabitants of Cape Verde. 

Language: People in the region speak Portuguese and Creole (a language most commonly spoken in Caribbean regions). 

Timezone: -1 GMT, meaning the region is two hours behind the UK. 

Currency: CVE – Cape Verde Escudo. At the time of writing, £1 is the equivalent to 123.28 CVE.

Population: The country has a population of 516,733 as of the last census check.

Weather: The average temperature in Cape Verde barely changes across the year. January is usually the coldest month, with an average conditions remaining around 24 degrees. September, the hottest month, sits at around 29 degrees. 

Best time to visit: With rainfall rare, and a breeze from the Sahara keeping climates moderate, the best time to visit really depends on your own schedule. 

Passport and visas: If you have a British passport, you’ll be able to stay for up to 30 days in Cape Verde without the need for a visa. If you’re intending to stay for longer, apply for a visa with the Honorary Consul in London. 

Excited about a trip to Cape Verde? Be sure to brush up and learn as much as you can about the country before you head there. 

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