Sailing Holidays in Cape Verde
With 10 individual and enchanting islands to discover, Cape Verde is the hidden gem of bucket list sailing destinations.
Jutting up from the Atlantic, some 500km west of the coast of Africa, the tropical archipelago of Cape Verde has a charming blend of volcanic mountains, sandy beaches and peaceful seaside villages.
Situated on the North East trade wind belt gives Cape Verde a constant breeze – perfect for an adventure sailing holiday. Dutch tall ship Oosterschelde frequents these islands most winters and the usual force 4-7 wind speeds means she can effortlessly island-hop under full sail, making a new location most days. The distance between the islands paired with these great wind conditions makes sailing in Cape Verde the perfect destination for those seeking an offshore sailing holiday discovering beautiful anchorages off the beaten track, away from the tourist hustle and bustle.
Exploring this chain of islands by boat is the easiest and best way to experience everything that Cape Verde has to offer. Known locally as Cabo Verde, (the “Green Cape”) the islands are famous for their warm tropical climate, floral landscapes, wonderful musicians and delicious cuisine. With 10 enchanted islands to discover, each varies wonderfully in its offerings to travellers.
The Northern band of the Cape Verde islands is referred to as the Barlavento Islands and consists of Sal, São Vicente, Santo Antão, São Nicolau and Boa Vista.
São Vicente is home to the cultural capital of Mindelo, dotted with lively bars and traditional music where the local community gathers to dance together.
The island of Santo Antão is considered to be the most beautiful of the archipelago. Impressive mountain peaks hide luscious green valleys of native flowers and sugar cane. The Riberia Grande walking trail skirts the edge of a volcanic crater, following ancient terracing – perfect for hiking with stunning views of the valley.
Boa Vista is home to over 55km of dazzling sandy beaches and is well known for its shifting sand dunes. Further inland, the island has an almost lunar-like landscape with rock filled vistas and ancient ruins in the desert. Snorkelling here is also a delight with tropical fish, bright coral and mysterious shipwrecks along the coast.
The Southern cluster of islands, referred to as the Sotavento Islands consists of Santiago, Maio, Fogo and Brava. A stark contrast from the sandy shores of Sal and Boa Vista, the island of Santiago is home to steep green mountains with traditional villages dotted precariously into the sides of the valleys. Colourful wooden fishing boats are lapped by crystal clear water in sandy bays with mountain backdrops rolling straight into the sea. The most southern islands of Fogo and Brava offer their own enchantments, from dramatic volcanic scenes with deep gorges bursting with flora and fauna to sparkling bays framed by towering cliffs.
The sea isn’t just for perfect sailing though. Every day sees the local fisherman brave the surf in what seem like tiny lug boats to bring fresh wahoo, tuna and seafood for the village markets. These produce markets are a real cultural treat with vibrant fruits and vegetables and artisan, handcrafted goods laid for all to buy and trade.
Cape Verde is rich with animal species both on land and in the water with many species endemic to the islands. Flying fish, Humpback whales, dolphins and sharks frequent the waters with over 75 bird species on land. On Boa Vista, a turtle protection programme has been successfully running since the early 2000’s with Cape Verde being the third largest Loggerhead Turtle breeding site in the world. Our tall ship Oosterschelde has good local connections on Boa Vista and as part of their sailing adventure in Cape Verde, the crew arrange for guests to meet with a local guide from the Turtle Foundation.
is the Creole word for the archipelago’s hospitality. Mixed together with the constant lilting beat of the music that Cape Verde is famed for and the charming offerings of each island, it’s easy to see why this little known sailing holiday destination is fast becoming a bucket list location for many.
Please note – Cape Verde entry requirements: 1) A full COVID vaccination incl. booster (3 doses) as mandatory, 2) Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your date of departure