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The 10 best things to do in Sal, Cape Verde
Brief History of Cape Verde



Cape Verde, officially known as the Republic of Cabo Verde is an island country and archipelago in West Africa. It is made up of 10 islands which are a part of Macaronesia; along with Madeira, Canary Islands, the Azores and Savage Isles. Cape Verde was colonised by Portugal in the 15th century and gained its independence in 1975.

It is now one of the most stable democratic governments in Africa and relies on tourism and foreign investment.
Cape Verde’s population is less than half a million and Cape Verdeans are mainly Roman Catholic; this is due to its Portuguese “roots”. It is said that more Cape Verdeans live outside the country than within as many left for greener pastures. Its official language is Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole is its recognised national language. You will find Cape Verdeans speaking creole amongst themselves and Portuguese in more formal environments.


The 10 best things to do in Sal, Cape Verde
1. Santa Maria Salt Ponds
The salt ponds are also known as Salinas de Santa Maria in Portuguese. It is one of the two salt mines on the island of Sal and the smaller of them. However, it is worth a visit especially if visiting Santa Maria – yes, you have to visit Santa Maria if you are in Sal. Santa Maria was founded mainly for the production of salt in 1830. Salt was exported to Brazil and much later to Belgian Congo; but started to decline and production stopped in 1984. It is a protected site and although it is not as lucrative as in the past, there is still small-scale production in Santa Maria for the locals.

We met a few of the locals working on the salt mine. I watched in fascination as one dug some salt and transported the heap in his wheel barrow. In my mind, I was watching something so special that I had only read about in history books.
We also noticed a row of ATVs sitting closeby. I assumed this is one activity to experience, racing atop a piece of Sal’s history.


2. Kite Beach
Another popular sport in Sal is kite surfing and Kite beach is where you will find the beginners and the pros. Kite beach is one of the best surf spots in the world. There are a lot of kite surfing schools and instructors ready to teach for those keen on the sport. We had a mooch around and watched beginners hoist their kites for the first time. The pros were keen to show off and the vibe was quite fun. The wonderful thing about kite beach is that there are locals kite surfing as well so the atmosphere does not feel so touristy.

I had a chat with an instructor from Mitu & Djo Kite School and was quite impressed. They have multilingual teachers, a restaurant and kids club as well. It is a lovely spot to people watch as long as you are sat at a distance from the kite surfers. Mitu, who is one of the owners is a world champion in kite surfing so this is definitely his forte.


3. The colourful streets of Espargos
One of the 10 best things to do in Sal, Cape Verde is a visit to Espargos. Espargos is the commercial center and capital of Sal and was upgraded from town to city in 2010. It is where you will find the “city center” but don’t expect it to be lined with designer shops. Espargos has narrow alleys and brightly coloured houses. It has an old feel and it is where you will find Cape Verdeans going about their daily lives. From kids walking to and fro school and adults heading in and out of supermarkets and pharmacies.
The city is popular with tourists and has a population of about 20,000 people. Tourists will find authentic restaurants, souvenir shops and local shops in Espargos.
We managed to get up to the viewpoint for the most beautiful view of the city and it was glorious. It is one of those spots where you stand and take it all in for a few minutes. You have the opportunity to walk around the base but we gave the experience a pass. We had our baby with us and I’m somewhat scared of heights so that was out of the question.
Fun fact – Espargos means asparagus, the vegetable that grows in some areas of the island.

4. Terra Boa
Terra Boa, which translates to “good land”, was one of my favourite spots in Cape Verde. I loved the bumpy drive to the desert and it reminded me of the trip into Agafay desert in Morocco. Terra Boa is a remote village in Sal. It is all flat land, sand and mountains in the distance and the scenery is absolutely stunning. We arrived just past noon and had it mostly to ourselves. It often felt like we were alone, however; in the distance, we could see a tourist bus parked with some people admiring the scenery.
The main attraction in Terra Boa is the Mirage that appears like a lake. Depending on how you stand or how you view it, there is an appearance of a lake in the distance. In essence, it is simply a mirage that one tends to find in deserts. It gives meaning to “the more you approach, the further it becomes”. One thing worth noting is that the “water” is actually a reflection of the sky.
In Terra Boa, there is a lovely souvenir shop, which is run by a local. We bought a little souvenir for our table back home. The shopkeeper offered us some local liqueur, which Mr E gulped down without hesitation. It was quite sweet to taste but as a light head, I only had 2 sips.
There is also a toilet there so it is a multi functional tourist site; perfect for a mooch and a wee lol.


5. Murdeira
Murdeira is quite different from the rest of Sal especially in comparison to Espargos and Santa Maria. It is quiet and so picturesque with the spectacular view of Monte Leão aka Lion Mountain as its backdrop. Murdeira is a sleepy fishing village. It is where tourists trying to escape the bustle of Esparagos and resort life of Santa Maria will find solace.
Mudeira has beautiful beaches where one can enjoy and relax. Its natural beauty speaks for itself and there is an abundance of water activities. Murdeira village is also where you will find a lot of foreign ownership of properties. Due to it being secure and relatively new, it is attractive to foreigners looking to build on the Island.

6. Buracona
The natural swimming pool also known as “Blue Eye” is one of the most epic places to visit in Sal. It is 3 euros for entry and the best way to view this site is with a drone. The best time to see the blueness of the pool is in summer months between 11am and 1pm. Any period outside these months and the blue will not be as visible as expected. However, it is still a stunning site to behold regardless of time.
This natural pool is carved into a rock and is perfect for strong swimmers looking to take a dip. Swimwear and appropriate footwear are required to avoid slips; after all, it is a rocky route.
On our way out of Blue Eye, en route Palmeira was an unexpected find. This was our own version of the Blue Eye. Best of all, it was free and empty and we were able to fly the drone for an aeriel view. As you leave Buracona, keep your eyes open for what you will find along the way. There is so much beauty that this little island has to offer. I am not sure you can swim in any of the little coves along the way; however, they are worth the stop to marvel and photograph as well.


7. Palmeira
The beautiful fishing village of Palmeira welcomed us with locals coming in from a day of fishing. We got to the dock just as fishermen were pulling in with their catch of the day. Palmeira is colourful and as we wandered, we were greeted by friendly faces; mainly of older men sitting and chatting animatedly. It felt like a beautiful community where everyone knew each other by first name and looked out for one another.
Street art litters the walls, buildings are painted in an array of bright colours reminiscent of the houses in Espargos. Palmeira is perfect for a slow, evening wander. On Sundays, you can hear live music playing from different parts of this area with food stalls set up. It was basically street party vibes multiplied by 100.
One way to support the locals is to buy some fish especially if you are staying in a self-service accommodation. Not only are you going to eat some fresh fish but you will also be putting money directly into their pockets.

8. Shark Bay
Shark Bay is the only place in Cape Verde where you can come in close contact with lemon sharks without disturbance. Due to the area being attractive for the sharks to hunt for food, tourists can walk into the shallow water to see the sharks in their natural habitat. Depending on the time of the day, the area where you view the sharks will differ. However, this is such a fun activity and one of the 10 best things to do in Sal, Cape Verde.
For this activity, water shoes are recommended. There is the possibility to rent water shoes for 3 euros. It is also encouraged to give a tip to the guide. Most guided tours will have Shark Bay tour as part of the package and the fee should cover the rental.


9. Salt Mines: Pedra de Lume
Another epic thing to do in Sal is to visit Pedra de Lume. It is the only salt mine in the world that is located within an extinct volcano. How is that for awesome? The salt mine is natural from the water filtering through from the ocean nearby. You can pay to go inside for a cool experience. However, for a more epic view, drive to the viewpoint all the way up for a stunning aerial view. As with the Santa Maria salt ponds, Pedra de Lume salt mine is protected. It has also been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage list.
Salinas de Pedra de Lume is one of the seven natural wonders of Cape Verde. It is also Sal’s most popular tourist attraction. What makes this one different from Santa Maria is that you could bathe and float in the lake; whether you know how to swim or not. The amount of salt in it is the trick to staying afloat. It is said that it is even saltier than the Dead Sea.
Entrance to Pedra de Lume is 5 euros and swimwear is recommended if you plan on floating in the saltpan.
On the way from Espargos to Pedra de Lume, our driver, Didy showed us some of the earliest settlement houses. These houses were some of the first on the island built in the colonial era. Today, they are protected and those who live in them are not allowed to change the façade. You can see extensions that have been built from the back of the properties but their fronts remain the same. These historic houses used to be inhabited by slaves who worked in the salt mines.

10. Santa Maria beach
Trip Advisor has named Santa Maria beach as the best beach in Cape Verde. So of course, visiting this stunner is one of the 10 best things to do Sal, Cape Verde. Just like Pedra de Lume, Santa Maria beach is also one of the seven natural wonders of Cape Verde.
We spent a lovely afternoon there and enjoyed the sunshine while flying the drone. It sure is a beautiful beach; however, I thought Kite beach was beautiful as well.
Bonus – Sunset on the beach
I might have saved the best for last but Sal has some of the most beautiful sunsets ever seen. We caught the sunset every night of our stay; each time, it was even more beautiful than the last. The sun set really early when we visited in January, at about 6.15pm. So we would get to the beach at about 5.45pm and watch as the colours changed until the sun disappeared.
Our beach of choice was our resort’s, Algodeira, which was an easy walk each evening from our room. On some lazy evenings, we watched the sun set from our balcony. Thankfully, our lovely room came with a sea view balcony, which was special.
Cape Verde is beautiful and if we had more time, we would have visited other islands outside Sal. I guess it is a valid reason to go back. This list of 10 best things to do in Sal, Cape Verde is to be used as a guide. There is much more to see so if you visit Sal, make sure you go beyond this list.


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