In this week’s travel feature, local traveller Shaun Yeo visits the stress free islands of Cape Verde in Africa.
By Shaun Yeo
The motto of the Cape Verdeans is “No Stress!” You hear it all over the streets, everywhere you go. It basically means they take life easy and don’t stress about any worries, and they always find a solution to any problem.
Cape Verde is a collection of Islands, located at the bottom of the Macaronesia Volcanic Archipelago. The Islands belong to the African continent and is 570 kilometres from the West African coast of Senegal.
Cape Verde was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th Century.
The islands were used as a forwarding base for the Atlantic Slave Trade up until the 19th Century. The Cape Verdeans received independence in 1975 and are now no longer under Portuguese rule, and known as their own country in Africa.
I first heard of Cape Verde, when local band Jetstream travelled there to play for a music festival a few years ago. I did some research and decided to visit two out of the main 10 Islands and 5 Islets, Sal & Boa Vista in two separate trips.
Sal is Portuguese for Salt. The Island is named after the large salt ponds found on the island, one of these inside the crater of an extinct volcano.
The Salt industry was started in the 18th Century in Pedra de Lume, with a former salt mine which can now be visited by tourists, as well as swimming in the salt ponds, giving you a strange sensation of the positive buoyancy keeping you afloat.
The capital is Espargos, but most of the tourists are found in the busy town of Santa Maria in the Southern Coast.
The white-sand beaches with its beautiful turquoise waters, makes it a magical paradise for any visitor.
You can find many activities here; scuba diving, fishing trips, quad biking, Island tours and excursions to watch turtle nestlings at night, as well as a wide variety of other water sports.
There is also a bay where you can find some Lemon Sharks swimming around, which you can go enter the seashore to watch them come up close to you!
Boa Vista Island
‘Beautiful View’ that is what Boa Vista means in Portuguese and the name of this Island. Boa Vista is known for its desert landscape, including the sand dunes found in the Viana Desert.
This Island is the third largest of the Cape Verde archipelago. I stayed in the capital; Sal Rei. There were hardly no tourists insight, quite the opposite to what I found in the other Island of Sal.
There are two large tourist resorts in the white-sand beaches of Boa Vista, but these are miles away from the local towns. I personally prefer to stay in the local areas when I travel, rather than in an all-inclusive tourist resort.
Boa Vista also offers Island tours, Scuba Diving, Quad biking and excursions to view the turtle nestlings at night, but I found it very difficult to join any of the activities from the tour operators in the local town I was staying in, due to lack of minimum tourists required to run these activities.
Instead I had to opt for a private VIP Island tour on my own, and travel daily to one of the tourist resorts to take part in Scuba Diving trips.
Overall, I liked the Island of Sal more than Boa Vista. Sal was livelier with more activities and people around, on the other hand Boa Vista is a dreamy and almost deserted like Island, with not much going on.
It’s up to you, what type of holiday you’d prefer. I would personally go back to Sal but not Boa Vista, but if in the future if I travel back to Cape Verde, I would visit one of the other Islands I still have yet to see.
To read more about Shaun’s travels and diving expeditions check out his blog: www.shaunyeophotography.com
Are you a keen traveller? Or do you enjoy short weekend breaks up the coast? The Chronicle’s weekly travel feature is open for local writers to share their experiences of the places they visit. Contact the Chronicle to find out more.