My name’s Coumba and welcome to my travel guide on the amazing Cape Verde. I’m originally from Senegal. I moved to Niger with my family when I was 8 for my parents job. My travel adventures started from then on.
After 10 years in Niger, I went to study in France for a few years and then moved to the UK for a year abroad. I came back to France to finish my studies and travelled to Tahiti, French Polynesia for 6 months and to Johannesburg, South Africa for a further 6 months.
I even made it to Morocco for a year and a half. Now I am in Cape Verde. My love for travel really kicked off when I moved to the UK. It’s got to the point now where I feel like I can’t stay still. I’m always on the move, looking for new destinations to settle but only for a little while.
As for photography, I guess it came along the way while I was documenting my trips and sharing pictures on social media. It was just for fun and it still is. But now I really want to share my experiences, inspire people to discover new destinations and explore through my eyes.
The advantage of being an expat is that we can dig deeper into the different cultures and really get to understand them. My aim, with Amazing Passport, is also to show that despite my “weak passport” it is not that hard to discover the world and even be an expat.
Why Cape Verde should be on your Bucket List
Many people don’t know where Cape Verde is located on a map. They have never heard about it or think it’s located somewhere in the Caribbean. I didn’t know much about Cape Verde myself before moving here. I knew how to locate it on a map but not really what to expect.
As we say here, Cape Verde is “1 country, 10 destinations”. It’s an African archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean made up of 10 different islands. Each of these islands is totally unique and beautiful in its own way.
What I love about Cape Verde and Sal (where I live) is definitely the “vibe”. I guess it’s just “island life”. People are laid back, very nice and welcoming. The melting-pot of cultures is also another amazing part of Cape Verde. There’s African, Brazilian and Portuguese influences all mixed together.
Due to the country’s rich history, it has many different influences that can be found in everything from gastronomy to music and fashion.
Cape Verde Travel Guide: My Favourite Places
So far I haven’t visited all of the islands yet but I am eager to do it soon. I love Palmeira on Sal Island the most. It’s a small fisherman village with colourful houses, a nice atmosphere and music is always playing. You have the best fish in Africa here in a local restaurant by the pier.
I love Shark Bay too where one can paddle with lemon sharks. It’s such a cool feeling. In Boa Vista, my favourite area is Morro de Areia Nature Reserve. The landscape is incredible with sand dunes over the ocean. The scene is calm and peaceful (well at least by myself, there were no tourists).
10 Best Things To Do in Cape Verde
I recommend island hopping and discovering every single island when you visit Cape Verde. There are 10 islands that make up the archipelago. To be honest, I have heard so much about these places and I can’t wait to see them all myself. Let me introduce them to you below:
1. Visit Sal, The Beach-Lovers Paradise
Sal is where I currently live so if you visit Cape Verde make sure you come here first and say hi! This island is one the most popular islands for tourists due to the beaches. As I said, Palmeira fishing village is amazing and if you come in September be sure to check out the Santa Maria Music Festival.
2. Party in São Vicente, The Cultural Heart of Cape Verde
São Vicente is considered the cultural capital of the archipelago. Many artists come from this amazing island including the most famous Cape Verdean singer, Cesária Évora. It’s also home to many great restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Plus the colourful Mindelo Carnival is not to be missed for its spectacle of music, dance and parades.
3. Explore the Unspoilt São Nicolau Island
This gem of an island is yet to be spoilt by tourism. In fact, it may be the best kept secret in all of Cape Verde. The barren ranges of the island offer some spectacular views on hiking trips as well as horse riding adventure. Then the capital, Ribeira Brava is a colonial town well worth a visit.
4. Marvel at the “Island of the Flowers” – Brava
Another hidden gem of Cape Verde is the island known as Brava. This teeny-tiny island is home to some beautiful flora and fauna and towering lava cliffs that will take your breath away. The best way to experience the island is by going on long walks through its mountainous terrain.
5. Relax at the Spectacular Beaches of Maio
Maio has terrain that resembles much of Boa Vista and Sal, especially some of the beaches. Discover stretches of unspoilt coastline which are perfect for sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling. Another fantastic aspect about Maio is that there are only 4000 locals, making it a relaxing place to visit.
6. Immerse yourself in the History of Santiago
The largest island of Cape Verde is a place called Santiago. It’s home to the historic capital city, Praia and the country’s old capital, Cidade Velha. The latter was the first city to be built by Europeans in West Africa and today is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
7. See Fogo with its Dramatic Volcanic Landscapes
Fogo is situated in the south-west of the archipelago and is famous for its dramatic volcanic landscapes. These incredible volcanoes should be included in every travel guide to Cape Verde. Pico do Fogo stands at an impressive 2,829 metres and dominates the island in a magnificent way.
8. Get Off-the-Beaten-Track at Santa Luzia
This island is one of the driest and most barren places on earth. For this reason, Santa Luzia remains uninhabited. Although you can still visit on a boat trip from São Vicent which takes roughly two hours. The beaches and sand dunes in the south are quite stunning and are fun to visit for the day.
9. Discover Pure Paradise at Boa Vista
Boa Vista is the very definition of paradise. The island is blessed with miles and miles of golden sand, crystal-clear waters and a chilled-out environment. Here you can relax at some of the best beaches in Cape Verde and get your adrenaline pumping with some fun water activities.
10. Take Epic Adventures at Santo Antão
Imagine an island where massive green peaks and fertile craters are just a stone’s throw away from towns that literally hang on the edge of cliffs. That’s Santo Antão. There are endless adventures to enjoy here such as epic coastal drives, long hiking trips and stunning camping spots.
Cape Verde Travel Guide: People, Culture and Food
Cape Verdeans are very hospitable people. The “morabeza” spirit is a real thing. It means gentleness and kindness, like a softer way of living.
What I like most about the culture of Cape Verde is the hospitality, the chill vibe and the “no stress” motto. What’s better than having a drink on the beach, music playing in the background and people playing volleyball or soccer or going for a kitesurf? Life is simple and amazing.
When it comes to food, the typical national dish is called Cachupa. It’s a stew with corn, beans, vegetables, meat and Cape Verdean chorizo. There are a few different types of this dish to enjoy. However, my favourite dish is fish and seafood straight from the pier. The octopus is really to die for!
Cape Verde Travel Guide: Best Places to Stay
Cape Verde is untouched and authentic. But tourism is booming and people are getting to know it more and more. Sal is the most touristic island in Cape Verde. There are several hotels, including international ones.
The archipelago is still seen as an all-inclusive destination, therefore there are quite a few of these huge resorts but also non all-inclusive hotels like Hilton. There is every type of accommodation here – luxury, budget, Airbnb, etc. Most hotels are in Sal and Boa Vista.
On the lesser visited islands, there are more guesthouses, lodges and small hotels. No matter your preference, you’ll find something perfect for you.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
My advice to anyone wanting to visit Cape Verde is always: don’t be afraid of the unknown, get out of your comfort zone and try to stay with locals. Not for the safety aspect, because Cape Verde is a safe country, but for the stories they have to share and for their expertise of the place.
Locals are the ones who can take you to the best places in Cape Verde. They can show you the surroundings off-the-beaten-track and turn your experience from an ordinary one into an extraordinary one.
Thanks for reading my travel guide on Cape Verde. I hope it has inspired you to visit one of the most remarkable and beautiful places on earth!