Ten beautiful and still pristine islands in the Atlantic Ocean, Sal among them, are about 600km off the coasts of Senegal. Capo Verde is the westernmost point of Africa and the most european for traditions: this destination is in fact said “Africa light”, suitable for who desires to visit the black continent and enjoy the african athmosphere, without giving up the security and the comfort of a somehow european destination.
OUR ITINERARY STEP BY STEP
DAY 1: North tour = Pedra – Lume – Espargos (morning). Murdeira – Palmeira – Regona and Buracona (natural swimming pools) – Terra Boa desert (afternoon).
DAY 2: South-West coast tour = Monte Leao – Murdeira a little village – Calheta Funda (morning) – Ponta Preta Beach (afternoon for relax).
DAY 3: South-East coast tour = Serra Negra – Santa Maria saline – Kyte Beach – Shark Bay – Playa Blanca (the whole afternoon tour organized by the resort).
As you can see you really need only a few time to visit the island, in our case a whole day (1° day) and two half days; you can spend the rest of your vacation in total relax enjoying sea life!
WHY WE’VE CHOSEN SAL ISLAND
We didn’t have a great amount to spend, so we didn’t start with the right foot. Moreover we’ve always read about bad rewies of this island in particular (strong wind, too cold water, and so on…)
Anyway we left the 3rd June 2015 with a Neos direct flight (stop in Boavista, the most popular destination).
After only six hours flight we reach our paradise for a really unique and unforgettable holiday week, contrary to all negative opinions heard before. I can say the tropics behind the corner!
WHICH IS THE BEST PERIOD
From November to February it’s the high season for them: the wind is strong, the waves of the ocean rise a lot and the lovers of kyte and surf begin to give their shows on the water of the Atlantic.I think it’s an incredible experience to see, but right in this period it’s impossible to swim because of the big waves and because of the too cold water.
The period from August to October is the period of the rain: its possible that you don’t even even a drop, but the wind stops and humidity rises. Some people choose right this period finding sunny and pleasant days.
We have chosen the period from march/April to July characterized by a dry season. If I have to be sincere, I expect strong and exaggerated wind, as the various reviews said. Yes, the wind is a constant on the island and this thing should be remembered but so unbearable for me was not. On the contrary without wind it would have been a problem: the sun is too strong and it’s very very hot. Thanks to the wind we could lie in the sun for example at 1.00pm without any hats, without sun umbrellas and without sweating for the whole week: this thing alone it’s fantastic!
When the sun goes down the temperature becomes cooler: I suggest to bring with you a light jumper or a sweatshirt for that moments.
Swimming in front of out resort (Vila do Farol) was sometimes difficult because, even if the waves weren’t so high, it’s always ocean and the movement of the water tended to suck us inside. Se had swom anyway trying to be careful about this aspect; water was nicely cool and when we went out of the water there was always a natural hair dryer that dried us off: incredible! Consider however that into the water the temperatures are not those of the Carribean!
However if you go to Santa Maria beach, you’ll find a calmer sea: here you can surely enjoy your swim better.
What I want to underline is that the wind, the waves of the ocean and the quantity is sand that rises from the ground, depend on the day: you can find a quiet day and perhaps the day after you can find the opposite situation.
Even in cloudy days you can get a suntun: I suggest you to use high protections, not under 30. And the rain? Never seen it in the whole week!
Beaches are never ending and quiet deserted: deckchairs in front of our resort were only few, and if you walk along this great expanse of white sand, you can see farther some persons tall as the tip of a pencil: I find it amazing! Sal is however an island with a lot of contrasts also as regard beaches: you can find small ones and more sheltered from the wind that the others I mentioned above.
DRIVE AROUND THE ISLAND
Sal island is not so big (30km × 12km) that’s why is not difficult to visit: in two days we have visited what we have planned, and we have then dedicated the rest of the time to the relax. This holiday is perfect for people who are in search of tour and relax in the same vacation.
Someone says the island is dangerous: I found Sal absolutely quiet and local people very kind. We have rented a jeep and we have driven on our own with our child. It’s true that signs sometimes disappeared and we had to follow signs of other jeeps on the road that have passed before us to understand that we were on the right way. Anyway you can’t run the risk to loose yourself and we have always met local people or people from organized tours who has helped us to find the right direction.
Yes, you you can! I’ll leave you here below the name of the agency I turn to for the rent: it’s in the village of Santa Maria; it exists phisically and people are very honest. Now I can’t remember exactly how much I spent, maybe around 50 Euros per day in order to the type of car. We had to leave a deposit that we received immediately in return when the agency established that all was ok with the car. Otherwise you can think to rent a scooter or a quad: it would be funnier even if you’ll probably be dirty at the end of the day.
The only zone that a local guide told us to avoid is the North, North-West part, towards Fiura: there people are not used to see foreigners and as they are poor as soon as they see a car, they begin to attack to steal everything they find. However this part has nothing particularly beautiful to visit.
The landscape is desertic, flat and the only mount that make the background for all photos is Monte Grande while from the road you can see Leao Mount, the “lion” that looks towards the sea.
It’s not but true that Sal is only dried and monotonous desert! I was impressed by the peculiarity of the colours: during this tour we have found so many, starting for example from the houses of the little town of Espargos, capital of the island, and those of Palmeira, a little fishermen village, where you can breath an authentic and non touristic atmosphere yet.
The panoramic points, of whome I’ll tell you in more detailed posts, have a breathtaking beauty. Sea is like that of Carribean that thanks to the sun, assumes very beautiful shades of green and light blue colours .
As this is a volcanic island, beaches have white or beige sand, it depends on the place, with very particular black stripes thanks to the crater of the island. There are many small and nice where you can stop to swim if the weatheris clement, or there are wide, endless and desertic ones.
What has impressed me is the combination desert-sea that seems really a contradiction but that creates a contrast of colours, and not only, rather unique and peculiar.
Right in the middle of this contrast, an amazing sand dune created by the wind pop out in front of us: it’s about 60 metres high and changes its colours according to the presence or absence of the sun: once arrived to the top you have the impression to be the master of the world! I’m talking about of the marvellous and endless Ponta Preta beach.
But it’s not all. During an excursion we’ve organized this time with the hotel, I’ve discovered with a great surprise, that also in Sal exist fantastic canyons. During the path I’ve taken a lot of photos because of the thousands colours around us: brown desert that sometimes assumed different red shades , or white with little hills from where flat plants came out. Sometimes tufts of vegetation were the frame for the sunlit canyons; they aren’t much big, not like that in America, but they’re really nice and I didn’t believe that something like that could exist. Driving by jeep we passed through lunar landscapes, like we were on a crater, while a particular image that I’ll never forget of this tour, is a little valley of a white and soft sand closed at sides by lava rocks, almost black, that seemed snow. If all this can’t wonder you and the landscape is defined monotonous by people, it means that people can’t look at the world with a sufficient deep sight.
We have chosen a resort for three reasons: first because the island is quick to visit and it’s not so lively, so that during downtime we could have chosen to take part to any proposed activities; second I didn’t feel like cooking lunch and dinner everyday; third Giada was only seven and loved to play with other children like her, so miniclub could be wonderful for her but above all for us.
There are other resorts like “Crioula” in front of ours and others I don’t know, or a great resort (I can’t remember the name) on Ponta Preta beach where are strangers for most; it’s located in a fascinating place but it’s also one of the most exposed to the wind and so could be colder!
Another possibility is an apartment to organize yourself in autonomy: I know there are several at good prices.
VILA DO FAROL
This is the resort we’ve chosen: not so big, quite simple but really very nice with a beautiful wide swimming pool with salted water, a poolside bar, volleyball and bowling alleys.
The strengths in my opinion are several:
- possibility to take part to the activities of the staff that I must say, wasn’t intrusive at all, like sometimes happens: very kind, available and had respect for tourists needs. I didn’t take part to any activities and no-one forced me to do something.
- mini-club for children even if not for the whole day but from 10 to 14, I think, and from 16 to 18/19. What Giada has appreciated was her lunch together with other children of the mini-club: she went to self service and could take whatever she wanted as, for once in life, lunch for parents was later!
- the entertainment at evenings was very varied and very good also the staff: they prepared their shows on their own, worked hardly and were simply superb!
- lunch and dinner at buffet: in my opinion there was a great choise, at least three or four choises per course, plus fruit and deserts as you want!
- wide and spacious rooms like the bathroom, even if from outside they are similar to containers and for this reasons you can hear a bit of noise ; anyway for us they remain a very good accomodation.
- very good position: from the beach if you go left you can reach Santa Maria beach and village, the main one in the island, through a walk on the beach that lasts about half an hour; if you go right you can reach the old lighthouse walking for about 20 minutes, and the amazing Ponta Preta beach, that one with the famous dunes!
- good value for money.
- people at the reception are kind and at the disposal of the client.
- booking at Vila do Farol, we could fly with Neos, a more reliable company than the Cape Verdean one, that very often is late and not on time!
- a bit more expensive than the near “Crioula” resort, for example, but you can see the difference in details: from the kindness at the reception to the food quality, from the entertainment to the stay in general. I know this beacause a pair of freinds have been there and weren’t so satisfy. So Vila do Farol is more expensive but from the point of view of the quality is better than others.
- They don’t accept animals, while at Crioula yes.
- WI – FI didn’t work neither in the rooms or at the reception, but this is a typical problem of the whole island, at least until 2015! For calls we bought a quite convenient card at the reception.
TOTAL COST OF THE TRAVEL
About 800 Euro per person (1 week)
- flight a/r direct from Milan with a stop in Boavista (only few minutes);
- ALL-INC at Vila do Farol resort, unlimited drinks;
- 100 euro to rent the car for two days;
- about 70 Euro per person for a free trip organized by the resort;
- some travel memories
- 20 Euro Sim for calls.
In conclusion I think that who has criticized this island, hasn’t visited it so well; probably he has done a superficial tour visiting maybe only the most popular attractions and leaving the more particular ones. Surely Sal, like the less touristic islands, is a holiday suitable just for a certain target of people. If you like chaos, social life and the movement in general, then this kind of holiday is not for you.
In Cape Verde life flows calm and quiet: at the restaurant it can be you have to wait an hour to be served. Their motto is ” NO STRESS” : that was not a problem for me that I like simple, but at the same time particular things. It’s a place suitable for meditation.
This island preserves its fashion and its peculiarities but even here people have begun to build: everywhere in the suburbs we have seen works in progress. I imagine that this place will be ruined by the presence of too much tourists. I’m happy that I have already visited it before the big boom!
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THE MEANING OF TRAVEL FOR ME
In the last years I follow what Dalai Lama says:” At least once a year go to a place you’ve never been before”.
After years of sufferings and sacrifices, I’ve decided that life is too short and too unpredictable to continue waiting to do what I like and what makes me happy.
I like exploring the world where I live, take photos of it in general but also in its details, film it to hold back those subtle emotions that you could forget over time, and in the end share with you what I’ve seen and felt through my articles.
Travel is for me Love – Freedom – Gratitude