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Discover the 10 Best Beaches in Cape Verde

White sandy beaches and a laid-back atmosphere… What are you waiting for?

The Cape Verde islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Popular with locals, tourists, and even turtles, the beaches of Cape Verde are truly unmissable. But if you intend to travel to Cape Verde soon, you’ll want to know which beaches rule them all and, more importantly, how to find them.

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide on the 10 best beaches in Cape Verde. How many of them will you tick off?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The 10 best beaches in Cape Verde.

An infographic showing five popular islands for beach trips in Cape Verde.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Cape Verde, ready to enjoy the year-round sun and the warm climate. The calm and tranquil weather makes Cape Verde’s beaches especially inviting.

We’ve split our selection up to cover five unique islands. If you have the time, we highly encourage you to hop between islands to see the country’s diverse beauty. Let’s take a look at our personal favourite Cape Verdean beaches.

Best beaches in Cape Verde – Your quick-start guide:

  1. Santa Maria, Sal
  2. Kite Beach, Sal
  3. Santa Monica, Boa Vista
  4. Praia de Chaves, Boa Vista
  5. Tarrafal, Santiago
  6. Quebra Canela, Santiago
  7. Praia da Laginha, São Vicente
  8. São Pedro Beach, São Vicente
  9. Tarrafal, Santo Antão
  10. Ponta do Sol, Santo Antão

Best beaches in Sal

Sal is undoubtedly one of the most popular islands in Cape Verde for international tourists, thanks to the hotel infrastructure that is already there.

For most European destinations the flight time to Sal island is approximately 6 hours, however it can be as little as 4 hours and 15 minutes if you are travelling from Lisbon, Portugal.

Santa Maria Beach

A grey image showing a map of Sal and the location of Santa Maria Beach.

As the name suggests, Santa Maria Beach is situated by the town of Santa Maria on Sal island. It takes less than two minutes to walk from the town centre to the beach, a fact we’re certain beach lovers will appreciate.

In the daytime, you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and watch the local fishermen bring in the day’s catch, before the fish are then cleaned and sent off to market. Even spending just a short while here can help you see just how important the sea is to Cape Verdean culture.

Praia de Santa Maria (Santa Maria Beach), is approximately 2 kilometres long, stretching from Santa Maria through to Ponta do Sinó, the southernmost point of Sal island. It’s safe to say that you won’t be fighting for space with just how much beach there is to explore!

Kite Beach

Location of Kite Beach in Sal - the most beautiful beaches in the Cape Verde Islands.

For those restless souls who want to enjoy the beach and get their adrenaline pumping, you’ll want to check out Kite Beach on Sal island. Arguably one of the most popular spots in the country for kitesurfing, the aptly-named Kite beach is well worth a visit.

It can be great to watch experienced kitesurfers doing what they love, and if you fancy giving it a try yourself, you can take lessons at one of the many local kitesurfing schools. Now that’ll be a story to tell when you get home!

The journey from Santa Maria to Kite Beach is approximately 5-10 minutes by car. We recommend that you take a taxi, as it is relatively inexpensive, and you can also arrange for a return journey.

Best beaches in Boa Vista

Alongside Sal, Boa Vista island is another top island destination for tourists. This is the island to visit if you are looking for pristine white beaches and a place to let your thoughts truly unwind.

Although Boa Vista is Cape Verde’s third-largest island, it’s easy to take a taxi to wherever you want to go.

Santa Mónica Beach

Santa Mónica Beach - Beautiful Beaches in Cape Verde.

If the word ‘breathtaking’ was a beach, it would be Santa Monica beach.

At 11 kilometres long, this is an unspoiled paradise where you can completely relax.

Due to the sheer length of this beautiful beach, it’s easy to find a spot where you are surrounded by nothing but pure nature, giving you the feeling of having the whole beach to yourself.

However, it is worth noting that the current here is strong, and swimming is generally not allowed due to the hidden rip tides and powerful waves.

It’s recommended that you visit Santa Monica beach first with a registered tour guide, who will provide transport, show you some of the most scenic locations, including the majestic sand dunes, as well as answer any questions you may have.

If you are travelling between July and October, you may also have the chance of spotting a turtle! To make the most of this incredible experience, we do recommend that you go on a night tour with a certified tour guide.

Praia de Chaves

Boa Vista Island and Praia de Chaves - a beautiful beach in Cabo Verde.

If you are staying in Sal Rei, or in one of several popular hotels that are close to the airport, then Praia de Chaves is right on your doorstep.

This beach shares many similarities with Santa Monica Beach, however it is more likely to be busy due to its proximity to hotels and restaurants. For those looking to enjoy a relaxing time at the beach whilst remaining close to your hotel, this is the beach for you.

For those with a sharp eye and who are travelling between February and May, you may also be able to spot humpback whales on the horizon! Cape Verde is a popular spot at this time of year when whales come to breed.

Best beaches in Santiago

Santiago island is a must-see for tourists looking to adventure outside the tourist hot spots. Home to the capital city, Praia, Santiago island is geographically very different to Sal and Boa Vista, as the island is dominated by a stunning mountainous landscape.

That being said, there are still plenty of fantastic beaches to visit during your stay in Santiago. Let’s take a look at two of them now.

Tarrafal Beach

Santiago é a casa da Praia do Tarrafal, Cabo Verde.

Situated on the northern point of Santiago island, Tarrafal Beach is a popular destination among adventurous tourists and residents from Praia looking for the perfect place to take a break.

Tarrafal is approximately one and a half hours by car from Praia, so in order to avoid a high taxi fee, we recommend taking an ‘aluguer’ or ‘collectivo’, which is a shared minibus that runs between Tarrafal and Praia.

While a taxi would cost 7000 CVE (€70) for a one-way trip, taking an aluguer costs approximately 700-800 CVE (€7-8).

It’s no surprise then that Tarrafal Beach is a great place to unwind, with beach bars serving delicious drinks and tasty snacks. You can even try out riding a jet ski, or simply take a towel and do some sunbathing.

Quebra Canela Beach

Quebra Canela - Most famous beaches in Cape Verde.

Tucked away in the heart of the capital, Quebra Canela Beach is well worth visiting if you are staying in Praia. The beach provides a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, and is also home to many local restaurants and bars.

At just 1.6 kilometres away from the city centre, Quebra Canela Beach is also recognised as a popular spot for surfing, despite being a relatively small beach.

You can also go swimming here, with the water being relatively calm. A lifeguard is also on duty during the high season.

Best beaches in São Vicente

Less than an hour’s flight away from Santiago is São Vicente island, the unofficial cultural capital of Cape Verde.

Home to the yearly Creole Festival, inspired by the Brazilian Carnival as well as Portuguese influences, Mindelo is a must-see city that will have you feeling like a local in no time.

Praia da Laginha Beach

Praia da Laginha is the main beach in Mindelo, Cape Verde.

Enjoy Cape Verde’s warm climate at Praia da Laginha Beach, which is medium-sized at approximately 1.18 kilometres and situated towards the north-western side of the city.

This family-friendly beach is a fantastic choice for those looking to enjoy a beach break only a stone’s throw from Mindelo.

The crystal clear water and abundant natural wildlife make this a great place to snorkel, with the current also being extremely calm.

Practise your beach yoga, go diving or fishing, there are plenty of things to do here at Praia da Laginha Beach. Once you’re finished working on your tan, there are plenty of tasty local restaurants nearby. We recommend Caravela Mindelo and Kalimba Beach Club.

São Pedro Beach

Best Beaches in Cape Verde: São Pedro is one of the most gorgeous beaches and perfect to see turtles

São Pedro beach on São Vicente is the place to be for some serious R&R! With its stunning blue waters and sandy white beaches, this corner of the world makes relaxation irresistible.

Adventure-seekers will find plenty to do as well, with great windsurfing opportunities and snorkeling adventures around coral reefs, as well as a one in a lifetime experience – swimming with turtles.

There’s also a fantastic selection of local seafood restaurants to try out, providing the perfect end to any day spent on the beach. Whether you’re looking for a great place for some downtime or an action-packed getaway, São Pedro beach has something for everyone.

To get to São Pedro beach, we recommend taking a taxi from Mindelo, which will take around 15-20 minutes.

Best beaches in Santo Antão

If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, look no further than Santo Antão – the second-largest island of Cape Verde.

This enchanting volcanic landscape is home to stunning green valleys and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. The abundance of nature here is extraordinary; take a dip at one of its many beaches, or explore its charming villages surrounded by lush greenery.

To reach Santo Antão, you’ll need to take the ferry from Mindelo to Porto Novo, which takes approximately 60 minutes and costs around 800 escudos (€8).

Tarrafal Beach (Santo Antão)

Tarrafal Beach (the one is Santo Antão) and its soft sand.

Tarrafal beach in Santo Antão is another wonderful destination for a summer getaway or winter retreat. Not to be confused with Tarrafal in Santiago, Tarrafal Beach in Santo Antão is nestled beneath a stunning mountain range. At the beach, you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing and more.

Away from city life, Tarrafal Beach is lined with coconut trees that provide shade while allowing you to take in the fantastic views all around. At night, visitors can take part in traditional Cape Verdean cuisine and enjoy the exciting local nightlife.

As Tarrafal beach is situated on the western shore of Santo Antão, it is one of the more remote destinations on the island. If you’re spending a longer period of time in Cape Verde and would like to tour as many islands as possible, this is one of our top destinations to visit in Santo Antão.

Ponta do Sol Beach

Ponta do Sol Beach - other beaches in Cape Verde (among the Best Beaches in Cape Verde)

Ponta do Sol Beach in Santo Antão is a picturesque, sandy beach that offers beautiful ocean views and is the perfect place for a low-key trip on your holiday.

Visiting Ponta do Sol, you can expect stunning sunsets, calming waves, powdery white sand, and plenty of options for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and hiking.

With turquoise waters teeming with marine life, such as tropical fish and dolphins, you’ll definitely have an unforgettable time! Plus, due to its peaceful atmosphere and secluded location away from tourist hotspots, you can enjoy peace-of-mind relaxation.

As the name suggests, Ponta do Sol Beach is situated in Ponta do Sol, the northernmost city in Santo Antão. This takes approximately 1 hour by car or taxi, however the scenic routes you’ll see along the way more than make up for the wait.

How to make the most out of your beach visit.

1. Plan Your Itinerary

Before you set off, make sure to plan your itinerary ahead of time. This will help you maximize the experience and ensure that you get to enjoy your chosen beach(es) for as long as you’d like.

2. Pack Light

With its hot climate, packing light is essential for a beach trip in Cape Verde. Leave behind any unnecessary items and pack comfortable clothing such as shorts, t-shirts and flip flops.

Don’t forget to also bring some beachwear such as swimsuits as well as a sun hat for extra protection

3. Choose the Right Accommodation

There are plenty of affordable accommodation options in Cape Verde, so you don’t have to break the bank on your holiday.

Whether you want an all-inclusive resort or just a basic room close to the beach, there is something for everyone when it comes to finding accommodation in this beautiful African country.

4. Take Precautions against Mosquitoes

Cape Verde is home to several species of mosquitoes, some of which can transmit diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Pack insect repellent and use it regularly to reduce your risk of getting bitten.

Consider staying in accommodations with mosquito nets or screens to keep the insects out.

5. Learn Some Portuguese

While some locals in Cape Verde speak a little English, knowing a few basic phrases in Portuguese can be helpful when interacting with locals or navigating the country, especially away from the islands popular with tourists. Consider learning some basic words and phrases before your trip, such as “hello,” “please,” and “thank you.”

Read our language guide to Cape Verde to get started.

Summary

The beaches of Cape Verde are definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind. The islands have a lot to offer in terms of culture and history, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Have you been to any of the beaches in Cape Verde? What was your favourite part?

FAQ

  • Which Cape Verde island has the best beaches?

    It’s not easy to choose between the best Cape Verde beaches, but we’ll give it a go!

    Cape Verde has some of the best beaches in the world, but if you’re looking for the perfect spot to sunbathe, take a dip and swim, or simply enjoy a romantic sunset on an easily accessible island, then look no further than Boa Vista.

    Not only is it beautiful and unspoiled, but it’s also home to Cape Verde’s very own desert.

  • Does Cape Verde have white sand beaches?

    The archipelago has plenty of stunningly beautiful white sand beaches that are understandably some of the most popular tourist spots in the country.

    With popular white sand beaches such as Santa Maria Beach on Sal Island, it’s no wonder tourists flock here year after year to enjoy its untouched beauty on a relaxing beach day.

  • Can you swim in the sea on Cape Verde?

    If you’re looking for an exciting swimming adventure, Cape Verde is the place to go! Home to forests of waving palm trees and stunningly blue waters, this African archipelago offers a beautiful backdrop for sea-based activities.

    With no dangerous species in the vicinity and warm waters, these pristine beaches provide welcome relief in a postcard-perfect setting.

    There have been some extremely rare sightings of jellyfish entering shallow waters and washing up on the beaches, so it is always worth keeping an eye out. Again, this is a very rare occurrence.

  • Are Cape Verde's beaches safe?

    The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, tourist safety is taken very seriously in the country. Their police force has a presence on many of the beaches, ensuring that tourists feel comfortable and secure. Laws are strictly enforced and anti-social behaviour is not tolerated.

    At the same time, we recommend sticking to common-sense safety practices with your valuables and when venturing away from popular tourist areas. Check out our safety guide for Cape Verde if you’d like to know more.

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