CAPE VERDE should be your next holiday destination – here’s the best seven things to do on its most popular island Sal.
“No stress” is the mantra of Cape Verde but you will feel exhilarated by sharing the water with their sharks.
At Shark Bay, near Feijoal, on the island of Sal, you can wade out to see these stunning adult lemon sharks, each growing to a gigantic eight feet in length. Watch as they duck and dive over the waves, showing off their infamous black fins.
It’s perfectly safe, your guides will confirm that lemon sharks only eat fish and are not interested in humans, although one look at their jagged teeth may have you unconvinced!
Shark Bay in Cape Verde is a sight to behold
The Pedra de Lume salt mine is a truly unique sight. To enter you must first climb a hill parallel to a disused cable car, a powerful symbol of the decline of the Cape Verdean salt industry.
At the top you shuffle through a narrow tunnel to emerge looking out across dozens of salt evaporation ponds built on top of a huge crater. This natural salt lake was formed through infiltration of water from the sea and once represented the backbone of the country’s economy.
The island’s founder Antonio da Noli claimed in 1737 that the salt beds could supply almost the entirety of America.
Today Pedra de Lume barely exports salt anywhere, but remains as a reminder of a bygone era. You can take a dip and float around in the salt water, just like the Dead Sea, but don’t dunk your head under…
The Pedra de Lume salt mine in Sal is quite a sight
Sal is renowned as one of the best kite-surfing locations in the world, with Shark Bay – also known as Kite Beach – and the Bay of Santa Maria, popular hotspots.
This is because wind conditions in Cape Verde are almost perfect during the peak season from December to May.
But what is kitesurfing? Well imagine being strapped into a wakeboard or small surfboard by your feet, and harnessing the power of the wind with a large controllable kite steered by your hands to propel yourself across the water.
It is as fun as it sounds but two words of warning – it is not easy or cheap.
Kitesurfing is hugely popular in Sal, Cape Verde
If you stay at the all-inclusive Melia Llana Beach Resort and Spa (which we hugely recommend) you will be based in the south west of Sal, just above Santa Maria. This bright white five-star hotel on the beachfront means sea swimming is an easy option, if you can pull yourself away from the pool…
Unwind on Bali beds by one of the two main pools or relax on the beach beds reserved for hotel guests. And if you fancy splashing out, upgrade to The Level and enjoy access to the exclusive pool area where waitresses pander to your every need, and to nearby The Lounge where you can kick back on an outdoor sofa and watch TV.
Hot dogs or legs? Chill out by the pool at the Melia Llana hotel in Sal, Cape Verde
For those wanting to party, look no further than Bikini Beach Club. Built 40 metres into the Atlantic Ocean at the bottom of the Melia Llana, the bar, restaurant and sun terraces surround their very own private pool.
At the launch party, Roger Sanchez, Basement Jaxx and Tinie Tempah performed to a wild crowd under the stars.
But if serenity is more your thing then head down for lunch to share a sushi platter or treat yourself to a T-bone steak, and make sure to watch the sun go down with a watermelon margarita in hand.
Don’t miss the sushi at the Bikini Beach Club
The Bikini Beach Club launch party was wild
Do venture away from the hotel to check out the ‘Olho Azul’, which in Portuguese means ‘Blue Eye’. Located in Buracona, a small bay in the north west of Sal, tread carefully down the path leading to a cliff edge where waves crash into the rocks below.
Find the illuminated gap in the rocks and peer in, for when the sun’s rays hit the water just right, the cave lights up and looks like a gigantic blue eye. You can also swim in the natural lava pool next to the ‘Blue Eye’, from which you have a clear view of the 263m-high Monte Leste.
Swim in the ‘Blue Eye’ if you dare…
Find time to explore Santa Maria, an idyllic fishing village on the southern tip of the island with an 8km stretch of powder-white sand.
Crayola-coloured buildings stand out against cobbled streets dotted with palm trees, giving life to why Cape Verde has come to be known by many as “the African Caribbean.”
Stroll along the pier popping into the funky craft shops, before stopping for drinks on the outdoor terrace at the Odjo d’Agua Hotel to watch the kitesurfers do their thing.
And if you’re feeling adventurous experience the Santa Maria nightlife – full of reggae music and flowing rum.
Santa Maria has a colourful look
TRG has the largest resort and hotel pipeline in the rapidly growing tourist destination of Cape Verde, with two award-winning beach resorts open at MELIA Tortuga and MELIA Dunas. In December 2016, TRG opened two new hotels, Sensimar Cabo Verde by TUI and MELIA Llana Beach Hotel and the new exclusive Bikini Beach Club. There are a further seven projects in the pipeline. Today, the Group is directly responsible for employing over 1,000 people.