Sal Island, Cape Verde. where is it and what to see?

Sal Island

The Sal Island is the most flat island among Cape Verdean islands to the west of Africa in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Today, the picturesque island belongs to the Republic of Cape Verde. Its name means “salt” in Portuguese.

The island of Sal is 30 km long and up to 12 km wide. It is home to 25.6 thousand people. Unlike the other islands of the Cape Verde, Sal is less mountainous. Its highest point, the peak of Monte Grande, reaches a height of 406 meters. The sunny island has clear weather almost all year round. Rainfall is rare, and the wet season lasts from August to mid-October.

Save money on your trip!

Video: Sal Island

General Information

Sal is considered the oldest island in the archipelago. According to scientists, it is of volcanic origin and was formed about 50 million years ago. During the Middle Ages, the Moors came to the island for salt and the Portuguese discovered Sal in 1460. For several centuries Europeans failed to settle the island due to its arid climate, so only cattle were grazed in its valleys. In the 1930s of the XIX century in the crater of an extinct volcano discovered deposits of table salt. It contributed to the colonization of the island. The inhabitants mined salt and sold it to Brazil and Africa.

Today, the island of Sal has a well-developed infrastructure for tourism. This is evidenced by the fact that more than half of all visitors to the Republic of Cape Verde spend their vacations here. The beautiful natural conditions have made Sal an attractive place for divers, boaters, surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers.

Boat trips along the coast are popular on the island. During trips on yachts and catamarans you can see interesting places, swim in the open sea, enjoy snorkeling and sea fishing. For fans of the underwater world organize excursions on boats with a transparent bottom. Fans of educational tourism go to the ruins of the fortress Oásis de Algodoeiro, which the Portuguese military built during the development of the island of Sal. Many tourists come to the small town of Santa Maria.

Diving in Sal

There are several big diving centers on the Sal Island, where they teach beginners, rent equipment, organize night dives and underwater safaris for experienced divers. Suffice it to say that close to the Sal is more than thirty interesting places for diving.

The Blue Room, the Palmiera site, the Buracona cave and the Ponta do Farol reef are the sites with the most divers. In addition, there are three dive sites near the shores of the island, where wrecks rest in accessible depths for beginners.

Surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing

Outdoor enthusiasts choose Sal Island because of the consistent ocean breeze throughout the year. There are six big surf centers on the island, which train beginners and rent modern equipment. Each center includes a professional rescue service.

READ
Swiss Lakes.

Ponta Preta has the most athletes. When the wind from the west, it raises high waves. However, the coast near Ponta Prete is rocky, so only experienced athletes are advised to go there.

Windsurfers and kitesurfers have long mastered the shore near Santa Maria. The coast of the city is shaped like a big horseshoe, in the center of it the water is always calm, so beginners train here. On the edges of the bay, which go into the open ocean, conditions are more difficult, and these places are chosen by experienced surfers who can cope with large waves.

Not far from Santa Maria is the simple Albatross spot. It features a steady side wind that produces low waves. But if you ride at a distance from the shore, you can become a victim of big waves, wind dips and strong ocean current.

Many kitesurfers try to ride on the Salinas spot. Because of the wide beach, lack of strong currents, stable winds and coral reef, this sport has become a great place to learn for beginners. Those who are not yet too confident of their abilities also choose Kanoa, located in the south of the island of Sal. The cozy bay does not have strong winds and beginners can safely glide through the small, safe waves. During mating season, humpback whales congregate here, so the bay has the status of a marine reserve.

Special offers on hotels

How to get there

Travelers from Russia get to the Amilcar Cabral International Airport on Sala Island only by making a connection. From Moscow to Sala travelers take approximately 9 hours with a connection in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris or Frankfurt. The main harbor is located 2 km from Espargos, the capital of the island.

Going to Cape Verde: a week on the island of Sal

Cape Verde is an archipelago of a group of volcanic islands located northwest of Africa. The country consists of 10 large and 8 small islands. The capital of Cape Verde – Praia – is located on the island of Santiago. And the most attractive islands for tourism are Sal, Boavista, Fogo, Santo Antão and San Vicente. Our reader from Kharkov Yaroslav Lyubchinsky traveled to Cape Verde and shared his detailed trip plan to this island state in the Atlantic Ocean.

Cape Verde has few tourists, unspoiled nature and excellent beaches. It’s also a little-explored place, which is of particular interest. Well, when we found tickets at a good price, it was almost a crime not to take advantage of the proposal, which can be found once a year.

On the Internet you can come across a lot of contradictory information about the visa: they write that you need to bring 2 photos 3×4, certificate of employment and income, they mention about getting a visa at the nearest embassy, and a lot of other junk. But this information is unreliable. In fact, visas for citizens of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are made on arrival. Prepare for this to stand in line for about an hour, because at an interval of half an hour several planes arrive, and only two windows are working for the issuance of visas. The only saving factor is that there is a good free wi-fi and while waiting you can chat with relatives or post pics in social networks. The visa costs € 25 and a fee of € 31 (in total € 56). Note that Russian and Belarusians necessarily need a Schengen visa, as you have to fly from Europe.

“Your first thought – you’re on another planet.

There are not many options for flying to the islands, the most popular is from Portugal. TAP flies to several Cape Verdean islands at once. After Brussels Airlines came to Kiev in 2018, it became very easy for Ukrainians to get to Cape Verde.

READ
9 things to do in Athens in one day, Greece

My route consisted of two segments Kiev – Brussels and Brussels – Sal. The second segment of the flight works according to the shuttle method: after departure from Brussels, the plane lands on the island of Boavista, drops off some passengers and picks up people who fly to Brussels, then on the route of the island of Sal, where the situation repeats. The flight Kiev – Brussels – Kiev costs € 65, Brussels – Sal – Brussels – € 130. And the total sum was € 195 (it was a promotional offer only with hand luggage up to 12 kg). The standard cost of flights on this route starts at about € 600. You can also fly from Europe to the islands using the services of tour operator TUI or charter airline Thomas Cook.

Cape Verde has its own currency – the Cabo Verde escudo. It is not necessary to bother with currency exchange, because everywhere you can pay for euros. The official rate is around 110 escudos per € 1, but in general, the calculation equate 100:1. The only time I met the official exchange rate was in the biggest supermarket in Sal Island. There you just give euros, and you can get change in euros and escudos, or in two currencies simultaneously.

You shouldn’t expect to pay with payment systems. For excursions, surfing lessons, restaurants, food and other important things you can pay only in cash. Although there will be places where you can pay by Visa and Master Card.

The main mode of transport on the island is a cab, the standard fare from the airport to the city of Santa Maria is € 15 but you can safely negotiate and knock down the price to € 10. There is a lot of competition, and someone will agree to take you for that money. On the island of Sal there are also shuttles, which run on incomprehensible tracks with a chaotic schedule – they leave only when there is a full cabin.

READ
What is behind the mystery of Oak Island? Why hasn't it been solved yet?

You can rent a car, the rental price starts from € 35 per day, but it seems that there is no point in it – the island is very small and there is not much to go. If you want, you can take a tour around the island for € 25.

Santa Maria is the main town, where everyone who arrives on the island of Sal stops. The town is located 16 km from the airport. You have no problem choosing accommodation – Booking and Airbnb have a lot of offers (from hostels and apartments to luxury hotels). I’ve chosen apartments for myself, which cost from € 150 per week. Apartments are convenient because they have everything you need for life: refrigerator, stove, dishes and cutlery, various household appliances. It is better to rent an apartment away from the city center, where there is less noise and lower prices.

Note that often when booking an apartment, the price does not include tourist fees, as well as bills for light, water and cleaning. This can cost you half the price – pay attention to the bottom line when you pay.

The island’s main provider of food is the ocean. A variety of seafood – tuna, sea bass, sawfish, octopus, lobster – are found off the island. Sal Island cannot boast lush vegetation and fertile soil, so all other products get there through the port. But that doesn’t mean there’s a problem with food on the island. There is a large supermarket in Santa Maria with the groceries we are used to – a small but sufficient assortment. Food prices are higher than in Europe.

On the island I both cooked on my own and ate at different places. Cooking on my own is not much cheaper. Every day from 10 am at the pier (this is, you might say, the central part of Santa Maria) local fishermen return from the ocean with fresh catches. The fish can be bought immediately (cost from € 4 per kg), it will be cleaned immediately.

There are a lot of good restaurants and the menu is dominated by seafood, especially tuna dishes. For those who like more familiar dishes, pizza, steaks, burgers and so on are on the menu. Cape Fruit (Rua 15 de Agosto) is one of the best breakfast spots on the island. You’ll have to wait in line, but the food is really worth it. A full breakfast costs €6 (includes freshly squeezed fresh fruit, yogurt and fruit, toast with butter, coffee and scrambled eggs). Be sure to try the pancakes, which are served with chocolate hazelnut paste and banana or with fruit and honey (€5).

READ
Kyoto Railway Station. Japan

The national dish of Cape Verde is cachupa . It is a dish based on vegetables, yams, various legumes, corn with the addition of meat and seafood. There are poor and rich cachupa – so it is called by the locals. Determining which is which is very easy – the more ingredients, the richer the cachupa.

Things to do on the island

Sal is the most touristy place in the Cape Verde Islands, so there are plenty of interesting things to do. The main infrastructure on the island is concentrated in the town of Santa Maria – here there are schools of kitesurfing, diving and windsurfing.

Sal is the world capital for kitesurfers, here were born and honed their skills several world champions in this sport. On the island there is a constant strong wind, especially in winter, which is ideal conditions for kitesurfing. My trip coincided with the World Cup Kite-Surf 2019, so on the beaches of Ponta Preta you could meet the best surfers from around the world. Kitesurfing lessons start at €50 per lesson. To learn the basics of kitesurfing, you need at least 5-6 lessons – this, in my opinion, a very difficult sport. One theory takes 2 lessons.

Surfing lessons cost from € 25, windsurfing lessons from € 50. A boat trip costs €99 for a day or €50 for half a day. The price includes a light lunch and seasickness pills.

The shores of Cape Verde are washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which is rich in marine life. There are valuable species for sport fishing, such as tuna (you may even get a trophy), and the dream of every fisherman – blue marlin. You can go fishing with a group of up to 6 people or individually. The cost – from € 50 per person to € 600 for an individual tour.

On the island of Sal are large dive centers that provide various services, from training to beginners to the rental of equipment. The best months for diving are from April to November. The most popular dive spots are the Blue Room, Burocano Cave, Ponta do Farol reef.

One of the most memorable events for me on the Sala is the island tour. It’s a 5-6 hour pickup truck ride with stops at the most interesting locations in the area. The first stop is Murdeira village, where you can see the view of the restless ocean. The next stop is Espargos, the island’s capital and the highest point of the telecommunications center. It’s here that you can get a great view of most of the island and understand how much dust covers this piece of land lost in the ocean.

READ
The most popular resorts in Thailand.

Next we went to Palmeira, the water gateway to Sal. It’s where the local fishermen hang out – cheerful and open-minded people who know how to enjoy life. They spend all their time fixing tackle, drinking, smoking cigarettes and listening to Bob Marley music. And you can see why the island’s main slogan is No Stress. From here we made our way to Burocano Cave (also called “Blue Eye”), but we didn’t get to swim because it was out of season due to high waves.

Back in the capital and after a quick bite to eat, we went to a place called Shark Bay. There you really get to see sharks! Although initially I had a fear that when we get there, the sharks will not be there, and the guide will start saying that, they say, it’s out of season, the sharks are not in the mood and stuff like that. But as we drove up to the place, I saw shark fins in the distance. To get close, you have to have closed rubber shoes. If you do not – do not worry, on the shore you will meet an enterprising locals who rent shoes for € 2. You could get as close as 3 meters to the sharks, and the little sharks swam under my feet – without exaggeration, this is the most striking impression of my entire trip.

“The little sharks floating under my feet was the most vivid experience of my entire trip.”

The salt lake in the crater of an extinct volcano was the final point of the trip around the island. This is where table salt is mined and is entered through a tunnel. When you go through it, a stunning landscape opens up, and the first thought is that you are on another planet. You can swim in the lake, it is similar to the Dead Sea in its properties. Diving and wiping your eyes because of the high concentration of salt is not worth it. Entrance to the lake is € 5. And the whole tour of the island cost € 25. Be prepared that by the end of the tour you will be covered with dust from head to toe.

For lovers of lazy relaxation, the island has long sandy beaches and an ocean with turquoise water. You can easily find a place of solitude, enjoy the sound of the surf and watch the boundless water element – the mighty and unruly ocean. It’s moments like this that make us realize how much time we are wasting, because there is still so much unexplored on the planet.

Rating
( No ratings yet )
Like this post? Please share to your friends:
bucketlisttc.com
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: