If you are searching for a mix of culture, relaxation and lots of watersports, then Sal, Cape Verde is the perfect island for you! Sal is one of the ten islands that make up Cape Verde, and is located around 570 kilometers from the main Cape Verde Peninsula in West Africa. Sal has a warm climate, with an average temperature of between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius all year round. The island also has very little rainfall with an average of five or six days a year, so you can almost never go wrong with the weather. In this article I’m excited to share why you should add Sal, Cape Verde to your island bucket list!
Sal is a popular place to see turtles, especially during their breeding time between July and October. Between these months there will be a lot of turtles coming up on to the beach to lay their eggs. August is the best time to witness this.
Keep in mind it’s forbidden to go to the hatching areas on your own, but you can book and go with a guide. Also keep in mind some of the beaches are entirely closed to visitors during the breeding season. These beaches are guarded by policeman and guards, so always be careful. Watching the turtles hatch will be a moment you’ll never forget!
Once a year Sal hosts the kite surfing world championships. This championship takes place in February, which is considered the windiest month on the island. This is a big event on the island, and well worth a watch if you happen to be on the island during the event.
The capital city of Sal is Espargos which is definitely a must visit place on the island. The city is named after the wild asparagus that grows in the city. Espargos does have a number of very poor neighborhoods, with a lot of people living in slums.The city of Espargos is filled with very colorful houses and they use these houses to navigate around the city, as none of the roads have street names. I would recommend exploring the non-touristy places in the city, as they are less crowded and you can explore the city how locals experience it.
One place you should definitely visit is the Espargos view point, where you can see the entire city and the stunning view. During our time in the city we played a local game called Ouril, which is the oldest game in Africa. It is also makes for a great souvenir to take home.
FOOD ON SAL
During your time in Sal, I recommend tasting the national dish called cachupa, which is very delicious and filling stew. Many locals eat this meal three times a day so it’s worth a try. The fish is also very good on the island, where it is all caught freshly by local fisherman and is very high quality.
The majority of the accommodation on the island are resorts, which are lovely places to relax after a long day of exploring. Most of the resorts have private beaches, which is perfect if you don’t like crowded beaches. Many of these resorts also have spas, perfect for getting a relaxing massage to relax and clear your head, after all the activities and exploring. Some of the best reviewed hotels are the Hilton Cabo Verde, The Odjo d’Agua Hotel, and The Budha Beach Hotel.
If you like to go for a drink or a nice dinner, the small beachfront village of Santa Maria is the place to go. Santa Maria has lots of beachfront restaurants and bars to choose from, which have a laid back and chilled vibe. There’s two amazing places where you can eat lobster called Cretcheu and Chez Pastis, I would definitely recommend a meal in either of them. Santa Maria also has a number of places to rent surfboards and other watersports equipment, which is great exercise and lots of fun.
Palmera is a small fisherman town located close to Santa Maria. It’s very small and not many tourist visit the town so you can experience how the true locals live. From this village, you can see how the fisherman return from the sea with their catch of the day and watch them unload their boats with lots of fresh produce.
Did you think the only sea you can float in was the Dead Sea? Think again. In Sal you can float in the old salt mines, which were created with a lake over a large number of years. The salt in the lake is 26 times saltier than average seawater, so it stings your eyes and wounds like crazy!
The feeling of floating without an inflatable is so weird, but also the best feeling! Around the lake you can see the old machines and tools they worked with back in the day, which is impressive to see how they used to work and how hard they worked. Once your done floating in the lake, you can rinse off the salt in the showers provided. However, I recommend just letting the salt dry on your skin then rising it off later at your hotel, which it doubles as a good natural scrub and leaves your body feeling so soft.
Viveiro is a botanic garden, which contains a large number of plants that grow within Sal and on the other islands of Cape Verde. The gardens also have rescued animals which call the garden home. The gardens are a great place to visit if you like nature and wildlife, we had a guide who showed us around and explained all about the plants and animals which live there.
Buracona is considered the famous blue eye of the island. While the island doesn’t actually have a blue eye, there is a rock formation which has a hole in the rocks where you can see the sea through it. When the sun hits the right angle, the sea shines bright blue. You have to be there are the right time to see the whole eye. The majority of the time you can only see a piece of it, but it is definitely worth a visit, it looks magical!
On the east side of Sal, there is a rocky beach called Shark Bay. Here there are lots of lemon sharks which you can get up close with, even from as little as 50 meters into the ocean. The baby lemon sharks will come up very close, sometimes even just a meter away, while fully grown sharks don’t come up as close and stay a few meters away from you. The babies and the full-grown lemon sharks will never be spotted together, because the adults will eat the babies if they get the chance, so you will only see one of the two.
On the beach you see a lot of trash lying around, which has been washed ashore by the ocean. Locals do a trash collection once a week, but it always seems to come back the next day. So please be kind to our environment and pick up any trash to see on the beach.
Sal is a great place to go scuba diving, because there is a lot of marine life underwater, including puffer fish, turtles and even sharks. If you are lucky you can even see whales between February and April. We were there in July so we didn’t see any whales but we were lucky enough to dive in some shipwrecks and caves. I recommend diving with the PADI certified location, such as Scuba Team Cabo Verde. The people were very nice, caring and made you feel welcome. I even got seasick on the boat and they looked after me.
SAL VERSUS THE OTHER CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
Sal is the driest island of Cape Verde islands, so there are not a lot of wildlife on the island compared to others. The islands dry landscape means there are no farmers, as nothing will grow. Other islands are not so dry, so they have more wildlife and plants. Sal’s landscape is very flat with a lot of rocks, while other islands are mountainous and green.
The easiest way to get around the island is by taxi and it will only cost a few Euro’s to go from one place to another. I don’t advise you to take a bus or hop in a random vehicle as the locals often do, because it’s not always the safest option for tourists. The drivers aren’t the safest and you have to wait on the side of narrow roads for the buses.
Sal is a great place to visit and explore if you want to do some water sports, dive with marine wildlife as well as just exploring the local area. Sal is a small island so you can explore places quickly and easily, giving you plenty of time to relax and undertake some water sports, which make for a great holiday combination, definitely worth traveling to.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Sal. If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.
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Our Top Places To Stay In Sal, Cape Verde
- Hilton Cabo Verde
- The Odjo d’Agua Hotel
- The Budha Beach Hotel
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