The waves of Sal

 If you want to enjoy them to their full (and the wind), November to May is the timeframe and, as we were told, the more breathable period. J There are many things to discuss about Cape Verde, including languages, dialects, and landscapes.

For now, let me say that, should you land on Sal or reach it by ferry at the beginning or end of your trip, read on. I will try to share my experiences from the island, with our base camp in Santa Maria.   


Home away from home

Casa Blu is very clean, has a nice terrace, and is well-managed. Plus, it’s close to everything: beach, restaurants, and rental offices – they are all within a walking distance. We paid CVE 14668 for 4 nights/double room.


Good eats

Cape Verdean cuisine is wonderful. The locals know how to cook and make each island’s ingredients shine. When these are lacking, they bring them by boat from other islands in the archipelago. Very few of my meals were 4* out of 5*; loving the meals of my day was that extra touch that I’d look forward to when I woke up.

Marcel says that he had the best fish from the entire trip at Bom Petisck (garoupa); I had the best papaya jam and goat cheese dessert here (though it’s typical of Santo Antão). I also had some conflicts with a waitress, but the owner is hard-working and the live music nights are fabulous.

My favourite place was Da Marghe – the employees do a great job and they’re smiling even when they are overwhelmed. I had the best pizzas of the trip here!

Waiting for my pizza at Da Marghe; Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde

While getting a table at Cape Fruit can be a challenging task at breakfast, they’re freer around lunch, even late lunch. The coconut lemonade is fantastic, and so are the wraps! (Vegetarians will love it here!)

My wrap at Cape Fruit; Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde

The breakfast solution is Cam’s, with nice personnel and some great fruit crêpes to start your day. (I’ve only had pineapple juice here but I savoured it every time!)  

Breakfast at Cam's; Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde


To do

  • Swimming: by the old pier in Santa Maria; walking on the pier is also an interesting experience – you can even negotiate buying some fish. I recommend getting to the beach following the stairs and the shore because the views are beautiful!
    Walking; Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde

  • Snorkelling: we were advised to go to Bikini Beach (which also runs a good restaurant!) and we did so by bicycle (see below). The visibility is good and you can swim at ease (the shores are diked). We met some lovely girls from Germany here!
    Bikini Beach, Sal, Cape Verde

  • Cycling: apparently, Sal is a great island to see by bicycle. Use sunblock and take water along. You can rent a bicycle from here (EUR 15/half a day, 4h); they require a cash deposit, so come prepared. Riding from Santa Maria to Bikini Beach, then to the spectacular Ponta Preta (my favourite place on Sal), where advanced surfers catch waves, and back to Santa Maria is a doable route.   
By bicycle from Ponta Preta to Santa Maria; Sal, Cape Verde

  • Walking and turtle watching: every day, at 5pm, you can see the turtle conservation efforts if you follow the path to the beach, to the right of Riu Hotel. It’s an easy walk from Santa Maria pier and the activity is free of charge.
  • For the thrills of it: Rent a scooter (we paid EUR 25 for half a day from Be Be Beach) and ride to Espargos (loved this town!), then follow the road to Palmeira (this is the main port – read ‘ferry port’, too). From here, it’s tough and slippery by scooter (and we have a history to this end!) but it is interesting to reach Buracona (even if you can’t see the Blue Eye in winter – and you still pay EUR 3 as an entrance fee). You could normally use the natural pools to swim but they were flooded when we visited.
By scooter to Buracona; Sal, Cape Verde

We then rode to Kite Beach; it was too late to kitesurf but the beach looks inviting!


Know before you go

Upon arrival

Even if you complete the EASE preregistration 5 days before your arrival (CVE 3400), this doesn’t guarantee your easy access to Cape Verde. The lines are very long and the locals are very relaxed, so plan accordingly. J

Arriving to Sal, Cape Verde

A taxi from the airport to Santa Maria is EUR 20; a taxi from Santa Maria to the ferry terminal is EUR 15. Quite expensive, but Cape Verde is not inexpensive.   


Buying a SIM card

It is a very easy process. UNITEL works just fine (we only had issues in Mindelo, surprisingly!) and their office in Santa Maria is also open on Saturdays. We paid CVE 3150 for data + local minutes; it was the optimal solution for 2 weeks.



Be prepared to negotiate. Sal was the most commercial of the islands visited by us during our trip. The prices asked will be huge. Play the ‘I need some time to decide’ (and then walk away) role.



Escudos and Euros were both used. Most of the places used the rate of EUR 1 = CVE 100. Have cash on you.



After visiting 5 of the 9 large islands of Cape Verde, I only have this to say: sail farther than Sal. Whereto? We headed to Boavista.  

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