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World > Africa > Cape Verde

Cape Verde Cheap Hotel Bed and Breakfast Guest House Accommodation

An arrow-shaped archipelago of ten islands off the coast of West Africa in the North Atlantic Ocean, they are divided into the Barlavento, or windward islands and Sotavento or leeward islands. The northern windward islands are Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sao Nicolau, Sal and Boavista; the southern group consists of Miao, Santiago, Fogo and Brava. With the wonderful tropical climate, interrupted some years by a season of light rain lasting from late July to early November, they are a favoured destination for beach holidays, with great watersports including diving and boat-fishing, as well as being a fantastic place to go hiking and climbing: the rugged volcanic terrain offers great opportunities and challenges for outdoor enthusiasts. Otherwise, the majority of sightseeing and cultural visits are to be enjoyed on the largest island, Santiago, known for being the location of Ribeira Grande, the first European city to be founded in the tropics.

The islands are famed for their superb fresh seafood, while popular local treats include Lagostada, a lobster dish, Cachupa, and Tosta mista. For those in search of true escape, the most luxurious beach resorts are to be found on Sal, Boavista and Santiago, while Sao Vicente and Maio also offer some good beaches and accommodation. Fogo and Santo Antao are also often visited, but mainly for their spectacular hiking.

Hawksbill Turtle - Eretmochelys Imbricata - with divers on the background, Sal Island, Cape Verde Islands, Atlantic Ocean
Diving off Sal

The islands of Cape Verde were uninhabited until the 15 th century when they were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese. Following the founding of Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha) in 1462, the islands prospered by becoming integral trading posts for the transatlantic slave trade. Obtaining independence in 1975, Cape Verde has become a stable democracy, with its inhabitants enjoying the highest living standards in West Africa, and a capital now based in the city of Praia. Its official language is Portuguese, although since independence a Portuguese-based creole has been gaining in prestige. It is this language which is usually at the roots of the melancholic ‘morna’ songs, made famous worldwide by the singer Cesaria Evora, whose lyrical interpretation of her national music has become a hallmark of its country and its culture.

During your stay, have a stroll around Cidade Velha, a World Heritage Site with city ruins dating back to the 1600s having survived attacks of the British, the French and pirates. The impressive Fortaleza Real de Sao Filipe, a fortress built to defend the city from these ravages, now provides an interesting landmark with lovely views. For a choice of beaches to match your bikini, take your pick from the fine white sand of Sal, and the salty black sand on Sao Nicolau. Meanwhile Boa Vista has desert-like shifting dunes and palm-lined stretches of sea front. Away from the beaches, other worthwhile exploration of the islands should take you to the salt mines of Sal, actually built inside a dormant volcano. This island also provides some of the best underwater experiences you can hope for, with teeming sea life, the volcanic underworld and eerie shipwrecks to keep you entertained.

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Sal

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