Sao Vicente © www.caboverde.com
Only six hours flying time from the major airports of Europe, the volcanic Cape Verde archipelago, lying in the Atlantic Ocean off the bulge of Africa, is rapidly emerging as an inspiring holiday destination for those seeking something different.
The nine inhabited islands are bursting with their own individual character and unique musical culture, besides offering plenty of opportunities for relaxation or active pursuits. The rapidly developing island of Sal is particularly popular, with long white sandy beaches luring European beach buffs and watersports enthusiasts. The main tourist town, Santa Maria, near the international airport, is earning its place on the global map as a surfing destination, and also as a major draw for windsurfers and kite surfers, with its trade winds and winter swells.
A former Portuguese colony, Cape Verde is now a struggling Republic, scourged by drought in the last century, which prompted heavy emigration. Exploiting the natural assets of the islands by encouraging tourism has now become a valuable injection for the economy. Apart from beaches, the islands also offer impressive mountains, volcanoes, delicious seafood and an interesting African/Portuguese cultural mix. The distinctive music of the islands, carried abroad by renowned singer, Cesara Evora, 'the barefoot diva', also adds to Cape Verde's character.
Most visitors utilise the inter-island ferries or domestic airline to explore more than just one of these somewhat barren and ruggedly beautiful islands, each of which has unique sights or experiences to offer. In a frenetic world Cape Verde remains slow, unsophisticated and secure, with a stable democratic government, ready to welcome those seeking a simple holiday far from the madding crowd.