Cape Verde (Cabo Verde in Portuguese, which is the national language of Cape Verde), is an island nation off the coast of West Africa. Known mainly as a land of beaches and sunny weather, Cape Verde is actually a diverse destination that has both mainstream resorts and quiet, nature-dominated areas. This country might be one of the more-difficult destinations to reach (flights are intermittent at best, with many carriers offering seasonal service or once-per-week service). Nonetheless, tourists seeking a great beach, eco-tourism, cultural tourism and adventure destination will be able to find what they are looking for in Cape Verde. Many travelers will find that prices are reasonable as well.

Here are six reasons why you should visit Cape Verde, Africa’s undiscovered island destination.

Culture in Mindelo


Photo: sky#walker / Flickr

Mindelo, on the island of Sao Vincente, is a culturally-rich town that some people consider the heart of Cape Verde. If you wander around town in the evening, you will hear the unmistakable rhythms of Cape Verdean folk music coming from restaurants, cafes and bars. The architecture and the vibe here are a mix of African and Portuguese (a mixture often referred to as Creole). You can enjoy the laid-back vibe by sitting in any number of cafes or bars, or just by strolling around the charming city streets.

Hiking in Santo Antão

Santo Antão

Photo: dickdotcom / Flickr

This is the second largest of Cape Verde’s islands. It is a wild island, for the most part, and accommodations and prices make this a great base for people who are traveling on a tight budget. Half the island is quite arid, but because of the terrain and weather patterns, half is mountainous and forested and a great venue for serious hikers who want to engage in a little adventure during their staying in Cape Verde.

The beautiful beaches of Sal

Beach in Sal

Photo: bi_plus_one / Flickr

The island of Sal features some great beaches and sand dunes. It also has ideal conditions for surfing and wind surfing. If you are seeking out some sort of resort scene, this is probably one of the best islands to find it on. Even in the main tourist hotspot of Santa Maria, the atmosphere is quite relaxed, so most people won’t be confronted with any sort of inauthentic touristy vibe. For jaded beach-goers who are used to touristy beach destinations, this is the best part of Cape Verde: even with all its attractive attributes, it still doesn’t feel like a mainstream beach destination.

Eco-tourism and adventure on Pico de Fogo

Pico de Fogo

Photo: imke.stahlmann / Flickr

The island of Fogo has some amazing volcanic landscapes. One of the most interesting trekking spots is Pico de Fogo, a tall peak that offers amazing views of the surrounding landscapes. The mountain itself boasts an otherworldly landscape that was created by volcanos thousands of years ago. This is not a trek for the faint of heart, though anyone with a decent level of fitness can make it to the top, as there is little technical climbing ability required to reach the summit. This is the perfect destination for eco-tourists and people who want to experience a little adventure during their stay in Cape Verde.

The colonial history of Cidade Velha

Cidade Velha

Photo: Gagum / Flickr

Beaches, culture and adventure are all on the menu for Cape Verde visitors, but so its history. These islands have a long colonial history. Cidade Velha, on the island of Santiago, is one of the oldest European settlement in the tropical latitudes. The city center is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Portuguese colonial architecture dominates the narrow streets, and the place is quite well preserved. An old fort sits above the town. If you have any interest in history in general and in African and Portuguese history in particular, then Cidade Velha is a wonderful attraction to visit.

The chance to away from it all on Brava


Photo: F H Mira / Flickr

Cape Verde is a great place to “get away from it all.” The entire nation has a welcomingly laid-back island vibe, but the island of Brava is one place where you can really relax. This small island is largely undeveloped and can only be reached by ferry boat. This is the most sparsely populated island in Cape Verde and it does not draw beach tourists because of its craggy coastline. Nonetheless, it is possible to find places to stay here, and with very few tourists, you can truly have a quiet, authentic vacation.

Cape Verde is a very diverse nation, and it is impossible to list all its positive attributes in the space of one article. If you have something you would like to add to our list of the best reasons to visit Cape Verde, let us know about it in the comments section below.

Josh Lew
Josh Lew
Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it's free).

1 Comment

  1. This gets me in the mood to travel !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>