First impression after landing? Not so great. Dark, empty, gloomy. That changed after two days of being here. Cabo Verde is not only beach and desert, but there are also many interesting places on the island. Also, when it comes to diving. I didn’t expect much from diving here – caverns and wrecks but after two diving days I’m seriously impressed. Cabo Verde in my country’s ranking is very close to reaching the top 10.
Cabo Verde is a former Portuguese colony and that is visible everywhere. Sal Island where I landed despite being a part of Africa has this Caribbean vibe with a touch of European influence. The atmosphere of the place is very chilled out, people are nice and relaxed, the pier where the fishermen sell their catch is busy and smells like fish 😛 I Went out for a drink with people I meet during diving and Santa Maria – the main tourist area feels very safe. Same is for the rest of the island. The buildings around the island are very colorful – all shades of the rainbow, plus the street art is very much impressive. Actually, this place looks like a big art gallery.
Additionally, Cabo Verde is a destination which people from western Europe pick as their retirement spot. There are many villas around the island where retirees from England, Germany and Portugal live. No wonder… weather is mild, food tasty and prices low. Perfect to settle down in the autumn of your life. Are there any drawbacks about Cabo Verde? Yes, it’s the covid situation. Imagine you must wear a mask in the hotel common areas like restaurants and bars or generally in the city – no locals do it only tourists.
In the desert you can take off the mask. Man, what a bullshit… that’s just annoying especially as upon arrival in Cabo Verde you need to show a negative covid test or be vaccinated. Besides, wearing a mask in 30 degrees Celsius and 70% humidity is just silly. Ahhhh however there are ways to get around it – just do as the locals do 😉 But all in all small inconveniences are not a reason not to like Cabo Verde.
During my first diving day two things happened that turned out to be good news. The dive center owner told me that they are closed on Sunday – bummer. The cool dive buddy – Andre I met told me about this incredible island tour he did with Dany Lopes Tours. Asked him if he could message Dany to ask if he has a free place for the tour on Sunday. Luckily, he had! Have to say the tour was a bullseye. A full day of sightseeing for 20 Euros plus 10 Euros of entry tickets and lunch at your own expense. That is a very very competitive price looking at the prices of excursions offered by tour agencies like TUI. Dany, the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, you could instantly sense that he knows what he is doing. He speaks good English, and the tour is very well planned. It starts with the usual, salt fields, beaches with nice views, mountain tops, fishing villages.
When you reach Ragona for your first swim you don’t take off your bathing suit until the end of the trip. As mentioned, the first swim is in Ragona – crystal clear water surrounded by volcano rock formations. Then you move over to see the blue eye and have a swim in a pool inside the volcano rock formations. Next comes lunch and after a swim in Salinas – salt extraction fields. Funny enough the water from the ocean is filtered somehow and there are pools where the water is so incredibly salty that you don’t sink – something like an artificial Dead Sea. People can swim there… yay!!! The best thing I did when I went to Israel years ago was to swim in the Dead Sea… Sal Island reminded me of that experience. Very much thumbs up!
After the salt swim there were two more cool stops. A place where you can watch baby sharks swimming by and a sunset swim in a white sand beach with quite high waves. During my travels I was on many local tours but have to say this one on Sal Island exceeded my expectations.
Additionally, the fellow travelers on the tour were super nice and funny. I had the pleasure to share the tour with six people from Portugal. Man… after my positive experiences from Portugal last year I knew those guys will be fun! Indeed, they were… We had a couple of beers and joked all the way through the tour. At the last stop I didn’t wanna go into the ocean as I was nearly dry but one of the guys convinced me to jump into the water. Didn’t regret going it as jumping along the big waves was very much fun. Have to say it was an extremely exciting day. Left the hotel at 9.00 am and came back around 6.30 pm. Exhausted as hell but it was totally worth it. In case you plan to go to Cabo Verde, don’t buy an excursion from the tour agency you came with. Instead get in touch with one of the local guides. You can easily find them on Facebook or Instagram. They are much more organised, and the prices are lower. Only when using the local tour agency don’t forget to leave a tip. It’s a nice way to say thank you 😉
Very very unexpected. As mentioned in the beginning I didn’t expect much from diving here… how wrong I was. The water is clear, visibility is great and marine life rich. Damn… I didn’t expect to see nurse sharks here… big nurse sharks. One of them was massive… even bigger than the ones I saw in the Maldives. One shark per dive – not bad at all. Additionally, at least two big stingrays per dive and many many many fish swimming in the current under reef wall overhangs. Plus, the colours… I didn’t see so many yellow soft corals before. What is surprising however is the temperature. I’m used to water that has soup temperature. Here however it’s a bit tricky. On the first dive I noticed it’s a lot colder when you go to a certain depth. By colder I mean that after 20 minutes I start shaking. Unusual but bearable as my brain is busy with keeping the body warm so can’t be bothered to get seasick 😛 Good news is that I didn’t have my usual first diving day puke your guts out day.
For me it’s very unusual to have warm and cold currents mixing. Imagine you swim in warm water then suddenly it gets cold. After ten minutes you swim into a warm current again… funny but something different. The thermocline effect where the cold water turns into warm is more common in lakes than in ocean’s but hey nature is fantastic 😉 The dives here are generally very relaxing. During the surface break I even fell asleep on a zodiac boat… and let me tell you a zodiac boat is not very spacious 😀
Having said all that I can’t wait what will happen during the rest of my holidays 😀