Your complete Cape Verde activity guide
We’ve selected activities in this list based on a wide range of tastes and preferences. Maybe you’re a food lover who can’t go a week without trying a new restaurant – in that case, a local food tour will be right up your street. Or perhaps you’re a diehard surfer searching for the perfect wave. Let me tell you that Cape Verde will blow you away.
So let’s dive right in as we pull back the curtain on what Cape Verde has to offer.
Windsurfing / surfing
It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or a rookie, if you have an appetite for trying an action-packed activity out on the open blue, why not give surfing a trip. For a unique twist, why not try windsurfing – Cape Verde features some of the best beaches to give this activity a try.
Beginner lessons in surfing and windsurfing are available – a short search will show you the closest training centres to your accommodation.
Windsurfing on Boa Vista island
For the perfect windsurfing experience, you’ll need a location that features the perfect wind conditions. There are spots off the shores of Boa Vista that showcase just that. Cross offshore wind conditions ensure that the sea remains flat, remaining unaffected, no matter how strong the wind becomes. One popular destination in Boa Vista is Sal Rei, also a popular destination for tourists thanks to the stunning beaches and fantastic food.
If you’re looking for a place to catch the perfect wave, then Sal island in Cape Verde is worth checking out. With many resorts and hotels only a short drive or walk away from the beach, it’s a simple job to hop out of bed and onto the board. Mix in near year-round sun for some truly amazing surfing conditions.
Diving / snorkelling
Do you want to take a dip below and discover what marine wildlife Cape Verde has to offer? Well, you’re in luck! Diving and snorkelling are some of the most popular activities for visitors to the islands thanks to the plentiful options and packages on offer, as well as the diversity of marine life. With crystal clear water, do we need to say any more?
Take some diving lessons
If you’re a first-time diver, then there’s no need to worry! You’ll find diving training centres scattered throughout the islands which offer courses. If you’re staying for a longer period of time, for example as part of your Cape Verde visa for digital nomads, then why not add a diving certification to your list of achievements?
Snorkelling on Santiago Island
Take a stroll through the capital city of Praia before dipping your head below the water on a snorkelling trip – how does that sound for a day trip? If that’s piqued your interest, we’re sure you’ll love taking a snorkelling cruise around Santiago island.
Take an island tour
Perhaps you’d rather trade in your flippers for a pair of trusty walking shoes. What better way to learn more about the local culture and places to see than with the aid of a local tour guide. Available for a half-day trip or a full-day excursion, island tours are a great way to chat with locals about their home islands.
Learn from a local
As part of a local tour, you’ll also have a chance to ask your own questions while supporting the local community. Unless you are already familiar with the area, it can be easy to overlook certain locations that may prove hidden gems during your travels. A local guide can help you uncover these gems and make your trip even more memorable.
Explore by foot
For solo adventurers and groups of adventurers alike, exploring the islands is completely doable. With a little research (or no research at all if that’s your style), you can find some of the top destinations of the islands to visit online. Taxis are amongst the most popular form of travel in Cape Verde, so it’s very easy to hop from one town to the next.
Explore the Local Towns and Villages
During your travels, we highly recommend stopping by some local villages and towns to get a true feel of local Cape Verdean culture. Perhaps you’ll decide to head from the capital city of Praia up towards Tarrafal. You’ll instantly find a much different atmosphere from the capital, with live music playing frequently and local restaurants and bars to try.
Take to the hiking trails
If you always pack your trusty hiking shoes, no matter where you visit, then Cape Verde has some fantastic surprises for you. The islands all feature unique geographical features and formations, with Santiago, Santo Antão, and São Nicolau being three popular islands for hikers.
Many Trails to Hike
Like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, Santiago undergoes a wonderful transformation come the yearly rains. From a relatively dry and mountainous environment, the island erupts into a wonderfully green hiker’s paradise. Even when the rains have not yet fallen, Santiago features some of the best hiking routes to be found across the archipelago.
But Santiago isn’t the only island with fantastic hiking routes and gorgeous views. Check out this photo below of a view from the mountains of Santo Antão.
As Cape Verde is comprised of ten unique islands, it’s a fantastic opportunity to do some island hopping. You’ll be surprised by the diversity in geography, food, and culture. From the beautiful white sandy beaches of Boa Vista to the mountains of Santiago, there’s a whole lot to explore.
Hopping between the Cape Verde Islands
The next question of hopping between the islands comes down to transportation. For travellers, the options available for going between the islands are either a ferry ride or a short flight. Check out our article on transportation in Cape Verde here to learn more about interisland travel.
Get some much-needed beach-time
Sometimes, what you really need is some deserved me-time on the beach, soaking up the sun’s rays and truly getting your fill of vitamin D. Sounds good? Well, Cape Verde is known as the ‘African Caribbean’ for a reason – offering some of the best beaches to visit and relax on in the world.
Santa Maria Beach, Sal
Many travellers flock to Sal Cape Verde for the pristine beaches that lie only a hair’s breadth away from the resorts. You can walk from Santa Maria pier along golden beaches before stopping at a local restaurant for a bite to eat.
Santa Monica Beach, Boa Vista
Santa Monica beach in Boa Vista is arguably one of the most relaxing places you can visit during your time on the islands. The white dunes are a spectacle to behold and explore, having been swept across from the Sahara over thousands of years.
#Tip: Swimming at this beach is only possible on a few days a year, due to the strong waves and currents.
Go on a food tour
Feeling hungry? Let’s try some local cuisine. You won’t have to go far from your accommodation to find restaurants selling the freshest fish you’ll ever find, with tantalising menu options leaving you to try something new every day. If you’re not a seafood lover, there are plenty of local dishes on offer, such as vegetarian cachupa or any of the fantastic soups and stews.
While it can be tempting for those staying at their resorts to enjoy the dinners prepared from the comfort of their hotel, in order to really get in touch with the local culture we highly recommend travelling a little further into town. For example, you can explore Santa Maria and find the wonderful beachside restaurants offering an unforgettable experience.
Admire the wildlife
Travellers from across the globe make the trip to Cape Verde for the bountiful wildlife to be found. It’s time to ditch the Dead Sea and instead get up close and personal with turtles, whales, sharks, and more. You can’t go on a trip to Cabo Verde without witnessing the amazing wildlife of the Cape Verde archipelago.
Turtles have become a cultural icon for Cabo Verde, and for good reason too. Cape Verde has the third-largest loggerhead turtle population in the world, the sandy beaches and warm climate making it the perfect place to lay eggs. You can find the majority of these turtles nesting on the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, between the months of July and October.
For a glimpse at some of the most majestic animals in the world, you won’t have to go far from shore. There are plenty of whale watching excursions taking place between the months of March and April when humpback whales arrive to give birth to their young. However, sightings are sometimes possible from late February to May.
Swimming with sharks
Don’t be alarmed, we’re not saying you’ll be swimming with any great whites any time soon! Cape Verde is home to a variety of shark species, including whale sharks and lemon sharks. Lemon sharks, for instance, do not pose any threat to humans – you can visit the shark nurseries to get up close and personal!
Catch and cook your very own fish on a fishing expedition in Cabo Verde. Fishing accounts for more than 20% of the country’s GDP, so why not get in on the action on a fishing excursion. A fishing trip is a great family activity, or perfect for you and a few friends to hang out for the day. Who knows… maybe you’ll catch the big one!
Delve into Cape Verde’s history
Stretching back as far as 1462, Cape Verde has a very interesting history for those looking to look a little beyond the country’s reputation as a holiday destination. The capital, Praia, was founded in 1615, so there are over 400 years of the city’s history to explore.
Cape Verde Concentration Camp
Also on the island of Santiago is the Tarrafal concentration camp, where political and social prisoners were interred. The camp was established in 1936 and was closed down in 1974, a visit to the museum located on-site is well worth it.
Horse riding on the beach
A beach? Check.
Gracefully trotting along on the back of a horse? Check.
Sunset? Double Check.
Sounds like a dream, right? Well, you can turn this dream into reality with the varied horse riding experiences to be found in Cape Verde. For the budding Instagram photographer, this may well be the highlight of your trip.
Lounge on a catamaran
Catamaran hiring services are also available in Cape Verde. This is a great way of meeting new people or filling it with your friends. Available in half-day excursions, catamaran trips often come with free snacks and drinks, as well as the opportunity to witness some of the flourishing ocean wildlife, such as sea turtles and whales.
Enjoy the local nightlife
When the sun goes down, the night is only just beginning. Bars in Santa Maria explode with music and are visited by locals and tourists alike. If the dancing scene isn’t your thing, you’ll find quieter bars that feature live music and are a great place to enjoy a much-deserved cocktail.