The view from outside Santa Maria market.

Top Ten Reasons to Move to Santa Maria, Cape Verde

Experience the best of both worlds with local Cape Verdean culture and great international links.

Santa Maria is the most popular destination for holidaymakers coming to explore the Cape Verde islands. Not only is Santa Maria’s town centre a hub for international travellers and smiling vendors selling their wares, but come nighttime you’ll see live music and dancing spilling out onto the streets. The popular town is a true testament to the vibrant culture Cape Verde has to offer.

Why should you consider moving across the Atlantic Ocean to Santa Maria, Cape Verde? If the snow-white beaches aren’t enough to tempt you, then the incredible local food certainly will – and that’s not all! Read on to learn why you should swap concrete for a new adventure in the country of near year-round sunshine.


Ten reasons why you should consider moving to Santa Maria, Cape Verde.

We’re excited to share with you all of the wonderful reasons why moving to Santa Maria will be your next unforgettable memory, but first – let’s look at where Santa Maria is and what you will be trading away for this big adventure.

Where is Santa Maria?

The popular town is located on the southern side of Sal island, approximately a 20-minute taxi journey from Sal International Airport. As the town is located on the coast, there are fantastic beaches for you to enjoy, and the proximity to the airport makes it easy to travel to the other islands.

Within only twenty minutes from the airport, you can be immersed in the rich culture of the island.

What will you be leaving behind?

  • Rainy, dull weather – Cape Verde has a warm and dry tropical climate, where humidity sits at a comfortable level for the majority of the year.
  • Unhealthy and bland food – One thing is for certain, Cape Verdeans are proud of delivering fresh food – especially fish!
  • Indoor exercise – With such a fantastic climate and plenty of outside space to exercise, you can’t help but take your exercise outside. (There are still indoor gyms to be found though!)
  • Lack of activities – There are all sorts of activities to try out in Santa Maria, from exploring Sal’s hidden treasures to getting your dose of adrenaline from windsurfing.

1) The perfect winter escape

With record-breaking cold temperatures hitting Europe in 2021 and 2022, it’s easy to see why holidaymakers are looking for a winter break away in warmer countries. Cape Verde offers the perfect solution, with a year-round warm climate and temperatures averaging from the early to late twenties (°C).

Santa Maria Beach, Sal

So as you start to see the temperatures dip in your home country, why not take a trip to Sal? This is made even easier thanks to the…

2) Easy links to Europe

The hotel infrastructure in Santa Maria and the surge of flight-inclusive holidays have encouraged more airports to schedule flights to the archipelago, turning Santa Maria into a hub for international holidaymakers in Cape Verde. The other three international airports in Cape Verde are found on the islands of Santiago, Boa Vista and São Vicente.

There are 9 different countries in Europe that currently offer direct flights to Sal island, including:

  1. Portugal
  2. Italy
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Belgium
  7. The Netherlands
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland


Which country will you fly to Cape Verde from?

Even if you are travelling from another country in Europe not on this list, there are approximately 30 flights per month travelling from Lisbon to Sal. This makes it easy to fly to Lisbon and then take a connecting flight to Sal.

3) Great visa options

When you want to move to a new country, the last thing you want to do is worry about the visa options available. Thankfully, there are some fantastic options available for those who want to move to Cape Verde. Here’s a brief summary of the best options for an extended stay:

  1. Remote Working Program – Visa length of 6 months with the possibility to extend up to a year. Perfect for digital nomads and remote workers!
  2. Apply at a local embassy – Up to 90-day Visa, perfect for escaping the winter blues and with enough time to explore some of the other islands too.


Click here for a comprehensive breakdown of the visa options for Cape Verde.

4) A whole new culture

Cape Verdean culture is truly unique. With roots in Portuguese and West African traditions, it’s the perfect example of how two seemingly different cultures can merge to form something very special!

When you first arrive in Santa Maria, you’ll instantly see and hear this for yourself. The vibrant and upbeat music will encourage you to get up and dance after a day of work, bringing together locals and travellers alike. At the same time, the street art and local crafts will bring out your own inner creativity!

Santa maria Market - inside stands

5) Local food

Cape Verdean food takes its greatest inspiration from the sea, with the freshest local fish and seafood available in markets and restaurants. The most famous dish is Cachupa, which comes in many forms, but is traditionally served as a slow-cooked stew with meat or fish served as a base, mixed with beans, corn, sweet potato and more.

One thing's for certain, Cape Verdean food is sure to fill you up!

Another great factor of living in Santa Maria is that although you have access to the wonderful local food, there are also plenty of cafés and international restaurants where you can eat if you feel like having something different.

#Tip: We break down ten of the most famous Cape Verdean dishes in our remote working article.

6) Welcoming locals

A culture is its people and the people of Cape Verde are as warm as the weather is! From the taxi drivers who will greet you when you first land at the airport, to the waitress serving you coffee in the morning, the people of Cape Verde are genuinely friendly and helpful.

This is especially reassuring when you are moving to a new destination for the first time. There’s always a helping hand to assist you if you need it.

The vibrant street art of Santa Maria.

7) Pace of life

In comparison to the fast-paced and draining 9-5 workscape, Cape Verde is as far away from a corporate megalopolis as you can imagine. After spending a few days there, you’ll feel your tension begin to quickly unwind, as you truly take on board the motto of the county, “no stress.”

If you’re a remote worker, you’ll intersperse your work breaks with beach time, or maybe a fantastic smoothie from a local café. And if you’re there for an extended holiday, then you’ll have even more time to get stuck in with local activities and Cape Verdean culture.

8) The perfect launchpad

With Santa Maria located so close to Sal’s airport, it’s easy to springboard to the other islands. In fact, we highly recommend that you do so, as not only are the transport links between the islands great, but every island truly has something unique to offer.

Boa Vista's beautiful desert.

From Santo Antão’s beautiful mountainscape to the bustling city of Praia on Santiago and the deserts of Boa Vista, flights between the islands are short and will quickly give you a refresher if you’re looking for a change.

9) English is widely understood

While Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole are the official languages of Cape Verde, English is still a widely recognised language in Santa Maria, largely due to the number of tourists visiting the area. You won’t have any trouble getting around and eating at the local restaurants – this will help you adjust well to daily life.

However, if you do travel outside of Sal to the other islands, then it’s much less likely you’ll find English speakers.

Tip: If you want to brush up on a few useful phrases in Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole, check out our article here.

10) Activities galore

There are so many activities available in Santa Maria, and Cape Verde in general, that it’s difficult to know where to begin! Whether you prefer a life of relaxation or are looking for an adventure that is full of adrenaline, you’ll find it in Santa Maria. Here’s a list of some of our favourite activities:

  • Whale watching – Between February and May, humpback whales make their way to the shores of Cape Verde to breed. This makes it the perfect time to go whale watching with a local guide
  • Star gazing – At night, take a stroll past the palm trees and along the beach to watch the stars twinkle as the waves lap against the shore. It’ll be an unforgettable memory!
  • Snorkelling – Get up close and personal with Cape Verde’s amazing marine life
  • Turtle spotting – July to October is turtle nesting season, where the loggerhead turtles of Cape Verde come ashore by night to lay their eggs. Just make sure to follow the local laws in place to protect them
  • Water sports – Windsurfing is one of the most popular activities in Cape Verde, and Santa Maria features some of the best windsurfing conditions


Beach volleyball on Santa Maria beach


Choosing to live abroad takes no small amount of courage, but it can be one of the most fulfilling and memorable experiences you can have. Santa Maria makes for a great place to live, with abundant restaurants to try, great transport links to the other islands (Santiago, Boa Vista, Santo Antão, etc), and plenty of activities to get stuck into. Not to mention how easy it is to travel to other countries.

However, it’s also important to recognise that island life also has its challenges – we’ve covered these in detail in our blog post ‘Challenges of Living in a Small Island Country.’ For a more complete picture, we recommend you check it out!

Interested in learning more about what Cape Verde has to offer? Take a peek at our articles to learn more about the beautiful archipelago.


  • Is Cape Verde a nice place to live?

    We wouldn’t be showcasing it in our articles if it wasn’t! There’s truly something for everyone, from the incredible food to the assortment of activities to try. Cape Verde also enjoys very low crime rates; however, it is important to remain vigilant of your valuables and observe best safety practice

  • What is the cost of living in Cape Verde?

    How much you spend while in Cape Verde does depend on your own lifestyle, as well as the time of year you visit. In the high season, you’ll find that accommodation prices increase in areas with high tourism, such as Santa Maria. Accommodation on the less touristy islands tends to be cheaper; however, you may not enjoy the same level of infrastructure.

    The price of goods and groceries does also vary from island to island – imported goods tend to be more expensive, while local goods tend to be cheaper.

  • What are the best places to visit in Cape Verde?

    There are many fantastic spots to visit in Cape Verde, but if we had to pick a few to recommend, we would include: Pico do Fogo (Fogo island) – Cape Verde’s active volcano is a great challenge for hikers and the highest peak in the country; Ribeira Grande (Santo Antão) – Truly stunning landscape is another popular option for hikers; Praia (Santiago) – The capital city can’t be missed, and while you’re there, why not take a trip to the lush Cidade Velha?; Deserto do Viana (Boa Vista) – Step into Cape Verde’s very own desert, blown across from the Sahara over thousands of years.

Picture of CaboWork


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