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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.