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Island by Island Guide to Sailing in Cape Verde

Santiago coast Cape Verde

Comprising of 10 individual islands, the sub-tropical Cape Verde archipelago lies some 500km off the coast of West Africa. With a unique geography, landscape and culture like nowhere else on earth, sailing in Cape Verde is the best way to experience all that life has to offer in this corner of the world. Explore Cape Verde in style onboard luxury yachts Chronos and Kairos, or experience traditional life at sea with historic tall ship Oosterschelde

Whilst a typical package holiday to Cape Verde may offer a day trip or two to the lesser known islands, a sailing holiday remains the best way to travel between the islands and uncover all they have to offer. Part of the magic of sailing in Cape Verde lies in its variation of landscapes and activities, meaning that there really is something for everyone to discover. Enjoy relaxing on golden sandy beaches, exploring a colourful African market or hiking through a volcanic forest landscape! With so much to discover, we have put together this handy island guide to prepare yourself for an adventure sailing in Cape Verde. 

Sailing in the Barlavento Islands 

The Northern band of the Cape Verde islands are known as the Barlavento Islands. They include Sal, São Vicente, Santa Antao, São Nicolaus and Boa Vista. Our luxury sailing yachts Chronos and Kairos usually depart from the Northern islands.

Sal Cape Verde
Local boats moored in Sal, Cape Verde


One of the most popular islands for holiday makers in Cape Verde, Sal is home to the majority of beachside resorts, restaurants and bars. The island also has the better transport options, with direct flights from the UK arriving here. This makes it the perfect starting point for sailing in Cape Verde. Oosterschelde’s voyages begin in Sal, providing plenty of time to explore the island before setting sail. Those who make the effort will be rewarded – the coastline here showcases an endless stretch of golden sands and crystal clear waters whilst inland offers a desert, a lunar-like landscape. It’s worth a trip to the hidden mirage at Terra Boa appearing as an ocean in the middle of the desert!

Santa Antao Cape Verde
A mountain village in Santo Antão, Cape Verde

Santa Antão

Considered the most beautiful island of the archipelago, Santa Antão is a paradise of lush mountain peaks and native flora. A must see destination, all our vessels sailing in Cape Verde call in to visit this beautiful island. Spend the day exploring the island at your leisure before returning to the boat in the evening. The adventurous traveller will particularly enjoy hiking the Riberia Grande trail. The trail dramatically winds its way along the edge of a volcanic crater providing stunning sweeping views across the island. 

Cape Verde Sao Vincente
The mountainous shoreline at Sao Vicente, Cape Verde

São Vicente 

Considered the cultural hub of Cape Verde, São Vicente has excellent international transport links. Along with Sal, this makes it a great place to start your venture sailing in Cape Verde. The capital Mindelo is home to the islands famous music scene, with a rich local culture and a vibrant nightlife. Join tall ship Oosterschelde to discover all that Mindelo has to offer. Take in the local cuisine with dinner in the city before a crew member guides you to the best spots for live music and dancing! Beach lovers will enjoy the world renowned wind surfing beaches, or the natural lagoon for swimmers at Baia das Gatas. 

São Nicolau 

An unspoilt paradise, São Nicolau is home to undoubtedly some of the most breathtaking scenery in Cape Verde. One of the least visited islands due to its secluded location, São Nicolau is a fine example of how sailing in Cape Verde can unlock the hidden gems of this diverse archipelago. Our luxury yacht Kairos has formed strong local relationships here and visits regularly when sailing in Cape Verde. Breathe in fresh crisp air on a mountain walk amongst sweet smelling pine forests or climb the inactive volcano of Mount Monte Gordo. Wander through volcanic landscapes, discover the islands beautiful national parks and meander through the colourful town of Ribeira Brava, before heading back to the ship.

Cape Verde Boa Vista
Sweeping sand dunes in Boa Vista

Boa Vista

One of the most visited islands, Boa Vista is home to dazzling sandy beaches and glorious landscapes. It’s name translates to ‘beautiful view’ and it’s little wonder why. Added to this, the island is undeniably a snorkellers paradise with plentiful tropical fish, native coral and mysterious shipwrecks to bubble down to. Both Kairos and Chronos sail with various water toys to make use of whilst you visit the best beaches in Cape Verde. Time it right and you’ll be able to admire the world’s largest Loggerhead Turtle breeding sites – a once in a lifetime experience and all part of the sailing adventures with Oosterschelde whose crew arrange for guests to meet with a local guide from the turtle foundation.

Sotavento Islands

The southern cluster of islands are known as the Sotavento islands. They are most often visited by tall ship Oosterschelde whose crew are familiar with the area and local population.

Santiago coast Cape Verde
The coastline of Santiago, Cape Verde


The largest island in the archipelago, Santiago is home to colourful local markets brimming with the unique Creole culture and a landscape bursting with lush green valleys. Santiago is often the first island sailed to from Sal, and with a crossing of 110 miles between them there’s likely to be night sailing, celestial navigation, and incredible starry skies! Following our arrival into Santiago – and a well-earned hearty breakfast on the boat – guests are free to step ashore and explore the island at will. We suggest taking in the peaceful mountain village of Rabelados as well as making a visit to the reservoir of Agua Barragem or The National Park of Serra Malagueta. 

Fogo Cape Verde
The volcano Pico do Fogo, Cape Verde


Thousands of years ago the island of Fogo was formed from a volcanic eruption, and remains known for its fiery landscape. The dramatic volcano of Pico do Fogo dominates the landscape with fantastic hiking opportunities. Pretty Portuguese squares, local coffee and traditional wine combine to create a fascinating island brimming with culture.

Santa Luzia

The smallest of the islands in Cape Verde and the only one that lies uninhabited. Santa Luzia is a mysterious place, with a wild and rugged north coast, and beaches and dunes to the south. Become one with nature as you experience the unique flora and fauna of Santa Luzia. Tall ship Oosterschelde often passes by the island which is well known for it’s plentiful fish. Guests are welcome to throw out a fishing line and you may even catch your own dinner!

Maio & Brava

Maio and Brava are two of the most untouched islands in Cape Verde, both brimming with flora and fauna. Our sailing adventures in Cape Verde tend to forgo these islands for the more dramatic scenery found elsewhere in the Sotavento islands, however be sure to look out for them on deck as you sail by!

With all this to explore and more, discover this tropical island paradise with us on a skippered sailing holiday to Cape Verde. Choose from a number of trips on our fleet, from a luxury voyage with 5* service, or an offshore expedition on a traditional tall ship, there’s an adventure for everyone.

View Cape Verde Sailing Schedule >

COVID-19 FAQ’s – Book with Confidence.

Pellew Sailing

Updated March 2022

COVID-19 brings difficult times for us all, and here at VentureSail Holidays, we are continually adapting to this new world as we all find a way forward to keep customers safe. We know there are still many questions that people need answers to, so we have compiled some COVID -19 FAQ’s and answered them as simply as we can. If you have any further questions about booking a sailing adventure with us, please do give us a call in the office.


Will my booking go ahead?

Unless you hear from us, your voyage is due to depart as scheduled. We are monitoring the FCO and the WHO for updates and will be updating you with any new travel advice as we get it. Holidays outside of the UK may be subject to travel delays and entry requirements, so please check destination guidance before leaving.

Will I need to take a test?

Please check the matrix below to see which boat you are sailing on and what they are requiring from guests. All boats are offering a slightly different policy for their 2022 sailing season. Some boats are still opting to do a Test and Sail policy (detailed below) with a lateral flow test taken by all crew and passengers before each sailing. For those boats not asking for a test before sailing, please still be mindful and responsible in the lead up to joining the boat. If a guest is showing signs/symptoms of COVID, you will be asked to take a test from the boat and may be refused boarding. Please note that each boat has its own risk assessment for COVID safe sailing and may operate slightly differently from another.

Agnes & Pellew – Test and Sail Policy as below
Bessie Ellen –
Testing not required before boarding
Blue Clipper & Maybe –
Testing not required before boarding
Cherokee –
Testing not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel
Chronos, Kairos & Rhea –
All guests must either be fully vaccinated or have a relevant recovery certificate which is required upon booking. A self lateral flow test will be required at the time of boarding for all passengers regardless of vaccination.
Escape –
Testing not required before boarding

Eye of the Wind – Testing not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel.
Fleur de Lys – Testing not required before boarding
Florette –
Testing not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel

Flying DutchmanTesting not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel
Grayhound – Testing not required before boarding
IreneTesting not required before boarding
IrisTesting not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel
Lynher – Testing not required before boarding
Noorderlicht –
Testing not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel

OosterscheldeTesting not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel
Pilgrim of Brixham –
Testing not required before boarding
Skyelark –
Testing not required before boarding
Steady –
Testing not required before boarding
Stravaigin –
Testing not required before boarding

Unity – Test and Sail Policy as below
ValienteTesting not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel
Zorba – Testing not required before boarding, but please follow any/all international guidelines for travel
Zuza –
Testing not required before boarding

Test & Sail
For our boats opting to continue with the Test and Sail policy, guests are asked to do a COVID-19 Lateral Flow Test 72 hours prior to departure, and again on the day of boarding the vessel. 

Can I postpone my trip if I’m unable to travel due to COVID-19?

For bookings made from 2021 if you are unable to travel due to COVID-19 disruption, you will receive either a full credit voucher to the value of monies paid. “COVID-19 disruption” includes affected travel plans caused by government restrictions. This credit note is valid for 12 months from the date of your scheduled departure and should be used in the first instance with the boat that was originally booked on. Please read our full terms and conditions here and the boats these terms apply to. Some of our fleet have different terms for COVID events, so please check when booking.

Can I cancel and get a refund if I no longer want to travel?

If you have a disinclination to travel that is in no way related to COVID-19, your booking will be cancelled in accordance with our booking terms and conditions or that of the vessel booking terms where those apply.

Can I get refund it I display COVID-19 symptoms before I’m due to board?

If you display COVID-19 symptoms up to 14 days before you are due to depart, you will not receive a refund but you will receive a credit voucher for all monies paid valid for 12 months.

What happens if my flights are cancelled but the trip is still going ahead?

If your flights are cancelled for reasons regarding COVID-19 and/or government restrictions, you will receive a credit voucher for all monies paid for your voyage. If your flight is cancelled for any reason, you will need to contact your travel insurance provider for compensation. We will not refund or credit any monies paid in toward costs of travel to meet the embarkation location.

What if I or another guests gets COVID-19 during the voyage?

If any person sailing on a voyage gets COVID-19 the vessel will follow their COVID-19 procedure. Each destination/port authority will run different procedures depending on where you’re sailing and government advice at the time. Most likely we will endeavour to get passengers off the vessel and onshore as soon as possible to either isolate or receive medical assistance if required.

What happens if the vessel has a COVID-19 outbreak before I am due to join?

If the vessel is required to quarantine in port for a time period that will affect your travel, we will offer you an alternative boat, if there is one available, or we will transfer your booking to a later date. Once a vessel has completed it’s quarantined it will be cleaned with an antiviral procedure to eliminate any chance of re-infection.

Do I have to pay my balance or can I wait and see what happens?

Unless you are told otherwise, please follow our existing terms and conditions for making payments as normal.

Is my money safe?

Yes. When you pay your balance, your money sits in a secure Client Account that is only accessed when the voyage goes ahead.

Do I still have to buy travel insurance?

Yes. We understand that travel insurance companies have been reluctant to cover any claims regarding COVID-19 or offer new policies with COVID-19 cover. You will still need to purchase the appropriate travel insurance as this covers you for a whole host of other eventualities while sailing.

 Will I still get the same sailing holiday experience?

Yes – absolutely! It is our mission to ensure that your sailing holiday is the refreshing break you need. Aside from the need to wear face coverings ashore, once boarded, out at sea we will be entirely operating as normal, but please bear in mind we do have to adhere to all the latest government recommendations.