With its endless white-sand beaches, stunning mountain scenery and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder Cape Verde is fast becoming one of the UK’s favourite spots for winter sun. Blessed with clear blue skies and temperatures in the high twenties, it’s the perfect destination to escape to during the UK’s colder months.
This idyllic archipelago off the west coast of Africa may be known for its winning combination of sun, sea and sand, but with ten islands to explore there’s plenty of room for adventure too. From watching turtles hatch and hiking still-active volcanoes to a whole host of water sports, Cape Verde is packed with things to do should you need a break from the sunlounger. All just a six-hour flight away!
Want to know more? Here are five reasons to consider Cape Verde when planning your next winter break – and what not to miss while you’re there.
1. The beaches are simply divine
Powder-soft sand washed by turquoise sea, lined with swaying palm trees: the beaches in Cape Verde are pictures of pure paradise.
Sal, the archipelago’s most popular island, is home to the gorgeous Santa Maria beach, where bustling bars, shops and restaurants offer a welcome break from the midday sun. Fancy a little more peace and quiet? On the island of Boa Vista, you’ll find unspoilt stretches of sand with barely a soul in sight to share them with. Praia de Chaves is a must-visit; this otherworldly beach boasts over 5km of sand and dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see.
2. There are adventures to be had
Thought Cape Verde was just a fly-and-flop destination? The beaches may be beautiful, but the archipelago’s volcanic landscape, jaw-dropping mountain scenery and cities bursting with culture make the islands an adventurer’s playground too.
Witness the lunar-like landscape of Fogo, also home to the country’s largest volcano, or immerse yourself in Santiago’s rugged peaks and lush green valleys. If you’re looking for a more cultural experience, you’ll love the island of São Vicente with its vibrant nightlife and buzzing live music scene. What’s more, the higher winds during November and March also make Cape Verde’s beaches a fantastic place to practice water sports, from windsurfing and kitesurfing to sailing. Wherever you go, you certainly won’t be short of things to do.
3. You could see turtles and whales
Cape Verde is home to some of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting sites in the world. On the island of Sal you can visit Project Diversity, a non-profit organisation that protects the turtles’ nesting sites and helps hatchlings make their way to the sea. Visit between July and December for the best chance of witnessing the tiny turtles’ journey.
The waters around Boa Vista are also a known breeding ground for humpback whales, giving you the chance to book a catamaran tour to see the mighty mammals for yourself. Sightings are possible from late February through to May. Keep an eye out for dolphins too!
4. The festival fever is alive and kicking
Festival-lovers listen up. Winter in Cape Verde brings with it a whole host of fantastic festivals and celebrations. Mindelo’s annual Carnival on the island of São Vicente is by far the archipelago’s most famous event. Held each year on Shrove Tuesday, the carnival sees the small Cape Verdean town come alive with live music, colourful costumes and dancing.
Taking its influence from Brazil’s Mardi Gras, the carnival officially lasts a week – but locals will tell you Carnival fever begins at the end of the previous year! The event was unfortunately cancelled in 2022, but should be back up and running in 2023.
5. It’s the perfect place to go island-hopping
With each island offering its own unique flavour, why settle for just one? Imagine starting your holiday on the beach, followed by a couple of days spent walking through jaw-dropping mountain scenery, then the next morning you’re off to hike an active volcano. If that sounds exciting, you’ll love an island-hopping holiday around Cape Verde.
With boat tours leaving daily, there’s ample opportunity to experience the true diversity of Cape Verde for yourself. Don’t miss out on the chance to visit the tiny island of Santo Antão – a wonderland for hikers. It’s by far the greenest island in the archipelago and is often considered the most scenic too.