Some words about Sal Island

“…and when God finished the creation of the world, he was looking down on his work and while he admired the beauty, he clapped his hands and the crumbs of dirt fell from his hands into the sea and created a magnificent place - Cape Verde Islands." as one of the legends, told by the locals on the island, says.

We´ll tell you a little bit about the Cape Verde Islands, so you can prepare yourself for a unique atmosphere there and so you know little bit about the history. Let us tell you a little bit about these islands. The Cape Verde Islands were discovered by the Portuguese in 1456. The islands were uninhabited, when the Portuguese arrived. They gradually began using the Cape Verde islands as a supply station and subsequently began to grow sugar cane there. Today´s inhabitants are usually the descendants of the slaves and the Portuguese settlers. Most of them are mulattos, the rest are black people and a very small part of inhabitants is created by white people.

Cape Verde Islands, or Cabo Verde is named after Cap-Vert peninsula, which in French means "The Green Cape." It consists of 10 islands and 5 smaller islands, which are divided to southern and northern group of islands, according to prevailing winds:

The north, windward islands are Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sao Nicolau, Boa Vista and Sal, which is currently the windiest and the most sought after kitesurfing destination. The southern, leeward islands are Mario, Santiago, Fogo and Brava. All these islands are volcanic, but only the Fogo Island has an active volcano called Mount Fogo, which last erupted in 1995. For this reason there are frequent soil erosions and draught. The country has a shortage of water, which for this reason is highly prized.

The temperature on Cape Verde Islands is almost constantly around 24°C to 29°C throughout all year.

The Cape Verde Islands expand on over 4033 km2 and are inhabited by over 418,000 people. In the period from 1773 to 1866 were Cape Verde Islands hit by a total of three famines and 40% of the population lost their lives in each one of them. Ever since the islands were discovered, they became a significant stop on the way to India. The slaves from West Africa were being traded on the Island of Santiago and this place was also a major transshipment location from 1500 to 1620. A further development of the slave trade took place in the 18th Century, which was directly connected to the development of English Colonies in North America. The islands were also a great whaling center during this period and the end of 18th century is associated with the decline of the economy, when people began to emigrate to Brazil and to USA. In 1974, a so called Carnation Revolution took place in Portugal and the Cape Verde Islands were able to declare their independence. They became a Republic on the 5th of July in 1975 and their first president was Aristides Pereirae. The Cape Verde culture has its roots in a mixture of European and African culture.

Thanks to ever expanding tourism on Cape Verde Islands the English language is being used more and more, however the original official language is Portuguese. The locals mostly speak Creole language which comes from Portuguese. Nevertheless you can even come across the French language here.


The Cape Verde Islands are located at the western tip of Africa and are south enough for there to be around 25°C in December! If you come here, right after you step off the plane you´ll immediately feel the rays of scorching African sun, cooled by the nice flowing breeze. Upon the arrival at the Cape Verde airport, you´ll experience few tough moments in the heat because of the African administration. You´ll have to stand in the long line for visa, no matter if you already paid for it, or not. After that you´ll take a ride to your "destination" through a barren desert, which is surrounded by a magnificent blue sea, that you´ll only see, if you drive along the coast. The way along the main road is not very interesting. The beauty of the Sal Island is not on the main road. It is actually hidden someplace else.

However it´s vital that you entirely forget the word stress, or anything, that even remotely resembles this "state of mind." The people of Cape Verde live up to their motto "no stress." They are easygoing and take their time. Whether things are accomplished today, or in a week, it doesn´t really matter. So those of you accustomed to quick handling of things, slow down, take it easy and enjoy. That´s the only good advice!

The Island of Sal is one of the windward Islands with a steady strong wind, which makes it a true paradise for the lovers of kitesurfing. The Island of Sal is located in the Atlantic Ocean only 6 hours away from Europe. The Island of Sal is one of two islands with an international airport and that makes it also one of the most visited islands. It is one of the most western islands, together with the Boa Vista Island and thus it is closest to the African continent. It´s name is derived from Salt (in Portuguese language), because there were large quantities of salt being mined, loaded on ships and delivered world-wide. All this extraction on the island created a great crater, which you can visit and where you can also see the original historical transportation system, which transported the salt from the mines to the ships. The capital of the island is Espargos and on the south side of the island you will find a beautiful town of Santa Maria, next to which is our Kite Surfing Center located. There are many points of interest on Sal and you can drive around the entire island along the coast. You can see sharks warming up in shallow waters, visit deserted beaches, see the magic of underwater world, or visit the fishing piers, where your eye can behold things you´ve never seen before.

Even though Sal is a sandy island, it doesn´t really mean it´s a boring island. So if you´re not one of those people, who like to spend their entire days lying in the sun and turning from side to side, until they are golden brown, you are sure to find some very interesting places there. Fortunately not everyone goes on holidays for a purpose of lying around on the beach all day. The first tip we´d like to give you is to rent an off-road vehicle and drive around the entire Sal Island. The island is about 30 km long and 12 km wide, so you only need about 2 days to explore the entire island in a great detail.

From town of Santa Maria you can head towards Ponta Preta, which is a sandy cape with the biggest waves on Cape Verde Islands, where the World Surfing, Windsurfing and Kiting Championships are held regularly each year.

You can then continue further north to the island´s capital and make a short stop by the Lion´s Mountain, which was named this way, because it looks like a resting lion.

Along the beach going from the Lion´s Mountain towards the island´s capital, you can see beautiful gorges with rivers, where the erosion created canyons and you´ll find rushing waterfalls and colorful tones of different types of sand. It´s kind of a local "Grand Canyon," especially because this natural formation is about 30 cm high and no more than 30 m long and wide.

After this short stop, you´ll get to the top of the hill above the island´s capital, Espargos, which has about 6,000 residents and therefore it´s the biggest town of the island (the second biggest is Santa Maria, with its 2,000 residents). This town lies in the middle of nowhere and you´ll find just some houses, wires, barrels and dust there. There are a few colorful houses there and the rest of the houses are very poor. Espargos is a good place to stop for a lunch, or a snack, when driving around all day. For example you can try the famous "Bom Dia" cafe, which means "Good Day" where you can enjoy some nice refreshments. The next stop going down the hill is the Palmeira Bay Port, Sal Island´s main marina and the umbilical cord to the other islands as well as to the African mainland. The food and fruit imports goes through here and from here, the fishermen export their catch to Santa Maria and to Espargos capital. There is a beautiful lighthouse in Palmeira, an interesting children´s school and even few green trees.

From Palmeira you can further travel to Burrancon, a large lava field, formerly under water, where you can see here how the separate lava streams slowly hardened under water. Nothing grows on lava stone. The lava is black and it forms large round pillows. The ocean slowly tunnels through these lava pillows, which makes an amazing sound. Burrancon consists of several different "pools" connected to the ocean by narrow cracks, so when the water gets inside, it makes an incredible thundering sound. The entire pool suddenly fills up with sea foam and it´s a rather scary sight. Some locals like to jump into the water just when the biggest wave rushes in, but they have it figured and they know what they are doing. If you´d like a similar adrenaline experience, don´t do it headfirst. If you pick a wrong moment, the waves could smash you against the rocks.

From Burrancon you can head to one of the last stops, straight to the heart of the island, Terra Boa. Terra Boa, aka "The Good Earth," is one of the most fertile parts of Sal Island, but to us, from heart of Europe, it seems more like a dry desert with just a few pieces of grass. However really is the most fertile part of the island, compared to other parts and the locals manage to grow some corn and vegetables.

Sal is the driest island on Cape Verde, in fact it´s basically a desert, with only some grass and climbing plants growing here and there. The few palm trees, that grow here, were artificially planted because of the tourism industry - the palm trees need lots of water and therefore they are not natural to Sal Island. On hotel´s grounds there are date and coconut palm trees and the leaves of coconut tree swaying in the wind are a beautiful sight...

At the other end of the island, on the east coast, lies a hidden jewel of Sal – Salinas Pedra de Lume. In prehistoric period, this part of Sal was underwater and after the volcanic activity forming this group of islands continued, Sal started to rise; the salt water was trapped on the land, gradually dried up and created a huge salt flat, which was depleted after being discovered by the Portuguese in 17th century. Today, in this place of the original salt flat, salt is "grown". The sea water is left to dry here and the dried out salt then gets extracted. Part of Salinas is also used for tourists, who come to treat psoriasis and other skin diseases here, because the salt flat is closed off by hills and it has a more beneficial microclimate, than the Dead Sea.

For a small fee, you can walk through a tunnel that goes through the mountain and enjoy the view of the entire salt flat, the individual salt "fields," as well as sky lift, which earlier served to transport the salt to the coast, where it was loaded onto the ships. You can swim and you can also buy the salt here.


Walking, or lying around on the beach is basically one of the few activities, you can do on Sal, unless you want to lie by the pool, or engage in sports or other hotel animations. But that is not all. You can certainly travel around the island, buy souvenirs, or observe the local flora.

People of Cape Verde are connected to sea ever since birth. They like to swim and as you will see, that many of them like to go for a swim around sunrise. And if they happen to miss their daily swim, they become little bit irritated, as if they missed something very important on that given day. So no wonder that the World Kitesurfing, Surfing and Windsurfing Cup is held on Sal Island each year.

Next to the village of Santa Maria the beach is stretched out in a shape of a large crescent. The village is in the middle and there are two long sandy scythes, one on each side. Sun sets behind one of them and it rises behind the other one. The beaches on Sal are yellow to almost white and the ocean is such a crystal clear color, that it´s hard to describe....

And since we are talking about the walks along the coast, the amazing thing on Sal Island is the fact, that it´s always windy. You can walk around in the middle of a scorching day under the heat of the midday sun without getting sweaty, or tired. The wind blows just enough to cool you down, but not to make you cold. However there is a disadvantage to this. You don´t feel the heat. The sun is strong during these months and so you could easily get burned, or get a skin rash from the sun.

If you like to go out in the evening after a hot day to explore the Santa Maria town, there will be tons of local Senegalese immigrants trying to get you to buy something from them, from the moment you step outside. Do not fall for it right away. If you have the courage and you´re willing to dicker, you are sure to succeed. However if you want to bring something truly original from Cape Verde Islands and not something imported, then it´s a good idea to head to the local marketplace - it´s relatively small, but you can find some handmade products here, sea salt, the authentic Cape Verde coffee as well as their traditional vine.


Santa Maria is one of two towns on Sal Island and it is located by the bay in the southern part of the island, between two sandy capes. Santa Maria basically serves as a tourist base and when people want, they find some nice spot on their own here.

Those of you staying here will surely go out to explore the town, when buying water, food, or just taking a walk, or doing some minor shopping. You need to know, that the town of Santa Maria revolves around tourists which are mostly just lying around on the beach, so everything you can buy here is pretty expensive. Beach is a tourist trap. The local currency of Cape Verde is called Escudo. 1 € = 110 Escudos. If you pay in Euros, the locals will calculate 1:1, which means that 1€ = 100 Escudos. So if you pay in local currency, you´ll already save a 10% of the price.

Here you must dicker. The locals expect it and they price things for example ten times their value. But if you don´t feel like dickering, but you want to buy some things, it probably won´t be cheap, unless you dicker. Of course the dickering only works with the souvenirs salesmen, not in the restaurants, shops, or at the farmer´s market, where you can buy vegetables, or fruits that aren´t even familiar to you...

If you want to try something "local" in Santa Maria, then the best advice is to take advantage of local people´s friendliness. They will be glad to show you around and tell you the secrets of their country.


Pontao means "pier" in Portuguese. Pontao is located near the town of Santa Maria and the only thing you´ll find in Pontao, besides the pier, are hotel complexes. Pier is the center of all happenings. Here the local people trade with tourists, they carve and sell the freshly caught fish from the sea and this is also their starting point to go out at sea to catch or to observe fishes.

Everyone who goes to Santa Maria, comes to Pontao, if only to watch the local boys jump headfirst into the water and swim around the pillars of the pier, or to see how a moray head, or a life-size 30 kg tuna fish looks like. You can buy different types of smaller fish here very cheap (e.g. 1€ /Piece). You can also buy seashells or clams here, as souvenirs from your vacation. Upon the arrival from the sea (earliest time is usually around noon) the fishermen gut the fish and sell it directly. The large pieces of fish such as a 15-30 kg tuna fish or a delicious Serra fish go straight to the local restaurants. Basically unless the fishermen catch some small 2kg tuna fish, you have no chance to buy one.

A typical local food is "Cachupa". This dish is made of corn, beans, fish, or pork meat, sweet potatoes and cabbage. It is extremely hot, so if you don´t like to indulge in hot foods, then the best thing to try in Cape Verde is fish prepared in any way! The fish is fresh straight from the sea and it tastes a quite a bit differently, then a frozen, imported fish. And of course we cannot forget the fresh carpaccio! In one moment you see the chef carrying a bucket full of freshly delivered fish and in 30 minutes you have a serving of this fish on your plate. Wow...

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