Sal Cape Verde (Sal is ‘salt’ in Portuguese) probably has the most developed tourism offer of all the Cape Verde islands. In the main resort of Santa Maria, you will find everything from trendy surf shops to colourful cafés and restaurants. Sal is an island for beach lovers and is considered to be amongst the world’s top five windsurfing locations. Kite Beach on the east of the island, and close to Santa Maria, has become an important location for kite surfers, hence its name. Ponta Preta beach on the west side of the island is also lovely and kite surfing competitions are also held there.
Water sports galore are on offer. Don’t be put off as you and land at the Amílcar Cabral International airport. Although a very dry and rather barren island, it has one of the best beaches in Cape Verde with long stretches of soft white sand. This beach, in Santa Maria, is about 8km in length and up to 200m wide in places. There are turquoise clear waters that offer great conditions for a classic beach holiday. It is possible to hire water sports equipment in a number of places. Equipment hire includes surf boards, wind surfers, jet skis and kite surfing equipment. The warm clear waters and the gently sloping beach are a great attraction.
Santa Maria provides nightlife with everything from smart bars to noisy night clubs. Music is a big feature of cape verdean life. Many bars have live music in the evenings and the locals will soon be dancing and of course it is quite acceptable for visitors to join in. In fact it is expected, as fun is the key word. After all, the motto of Cape Verde is ‘Cape Verde, no stress’. The music of Cape Verde is infectious, and comprises the melodies of morna and the more animated rhythms of funaná. The young Cape Verdeans seem to have boundless energy and will often dance for hours. In Santa Maria you will also find the biggest selection of cafes, restaurants, banks and shops, together with most of the tourist accommodation.
Eating out in Cape Verde is relatively cheap. Seafood is on most menus, with a range of fish not commonly seen in Europe. Prices are likely to be around 600CVE (approximately €5) for fresh grilled fish (possibly tuna, wahoo, or garouper). For special dishes and items such as lobster, you could expect to pay around 1,500CVE (approximately €13). One of the traditional local dishes that should be tried is a stew called cachupa. It is made with beans, corn, sweet potato and either fish or meat. It is sometimes served for breakfast, which may seem a little unusual to European visitors. Buzio, a type of sea food, is also a local delicacy.
Sal is one of the northern islands of Cape Verde, within the Barlavento (windward) island group. This makes it the closest island to Europe, consequently there are direct flights of approximately 6 hours from many cities in Europe. If you want a quiet, gentle holiday, that is possible. However, if you want a lively holiday with lots of activities during the day and a full-on nightlife experience, you will find that too. There is something for everyone on Sal.