Why Cape Verde?
Of all the possible places you could go in the world, why choose Cape Verde? We’re slightly biased, of course, but we’d like to think that with a little convincing, you might consider these unforgettable islands as your next vacation or research destination.
To get started, here’s a quick reference guide to all the Cape Verdean islands. Click on the island’s name for its separate page with detailed information. Each listing here also includes a “recommended if you like” section so you can find out which island or islands are perfect for you and yours.
The largest of the Cape Verdean islands, Santiago features rugged interior mountains and serene beaches. The national capital of Praia is also here, and serves up a bumping cocktail of nightlife in the form of dance clubs, bars, and music halls.
Recommended if you like: hiking, music, history (African and European), nightlife, sunbathing
Singer Cesária Évora, “the Barefoot Diva” who took the Cape Verdean sound to the world, was born here. Her hometown of Mindelo is the epicenter of the country’s jazzy and tango-ish music, as well as its art scene general. Here you’ll find cozy cafes, upbeat nightclubs, and laid-back lounges. There’s also beautiful Laginha Beach, located near the heart of the city.
Recommended if you like: live music, visual arts, fine dining, nightlife, Carnaval (Mardi Gras)
A hiker’s dream, this island’s peaks and valleys are the perfect place to experience the greener side of Cape Verde’s terrain. Some of the archipelago’s best spirits are made in the traditional fashion here as well. Hike, drink and be merry!
Recommended if you like: hiking, wine- and -spirit tasting, sustainable agriculture
Fogo – which means fire in Portuguese – is best known for its Pico, which reaches 3,000 meters into the clouds. After the recent 2014 eruption devastated the main town inside the volcanic valley, the town is continuing to revive itself. The island still offers something special to visitors including the beautiful cobblestone streets of colonial São Filipe, diverse agriculture in the quaint towns surrounding the base of the island, and of course the delicious wine made from the grapes that grow so well in the island’s rich, volcanic soil.
Recommended if you like: hiking, wine-tasting, festivals, geology, history
This island of fun in the sun is the unquestioned tourism capital of the archipelago. Gorgeous white sand beaches and a wide offering of water sports and high-quality hotels draw a huge crowd of mostly European vacationers every season.
Recommended if you like: watersports, SCUBA diving/snorkeling, sunbathing, sea turtle/whale watching
The “Beautiful View” is home to some of the best beaches in the world. Smooth, white sand hugs stunning turquoise waters around nearly the entire coastline. Cape Verde’s least populated island is less saturated with tourism than neighboring Sal, but you’ll still find four-star, all-inclusive resorts as well as simple villas. A good choice for travelers with wallets fat and thin.
Recommended if you like: watersports, SCUBA diving/snorkeling, sunbathing, sea turtle/whale watching, dune buggies
Where you go if you love the beach, but not the bustle. That’s because the exquisite beaches come with a relative lack of infrastructure, no international airport and infrequent ferries. Maio is relatively untouched by the outside world and an oasis of tranquility.
Recommended if you like: watersports, fresh seafood, SCUBA diving/snorkeling, sunbathing, sea turtle/whale watching
The best time to visit is in February or March when Carnaval, the Cape Verdean version of Mardi Gras, takes place in the island’s capital of Ribeira Brava. Bring a costume, your dancing shoes, and come well-slept, because you won’t have much downtime during this four-day weekend of tradition, parades, and parties.
Recommended if you like: hiking, Carnaval (Mardi Gras), fishing
The smallest inhabited island in the archipelago is a huge garden of fragrant hibiscus, oleander and bougainvillea flowers. Hike the misty, green mountains and breathe in the island’s beauty, fresh air and intoxicating smells. On your second day, take a ride to Fajã de Água and bathe in the natural rock pools.
Recommended if you like: hiking, fresh seafood, boating, swimming
This island is uninhabited and difficult to reach, unless you have a friend who owns a fishing trawler. Santa Luzia is only for the most adventurous, but you wouldn’t be interested in that…
Recommended if you like: boating, swimming, fishing, sunbathing, solitude