The islands of Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) are 460 miles off the Atlantic Ocean coast of West Africa. The islands are divided into two groups: the Wind Islands (North Group) and the Southern Group Islands. On the African plate, the 15 islands are of volcanic origin. Cape Verde’s highest point is 2,829 m in Picodo Fogo (Mount Fogo) on Fogo Island. Based on Santiago Praira, the capital of Cape Verde-Praia is the largest city and economic center of the islands.
The sailing area around Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) requires local knowledge to master and there is little development in the sailing infrastructure. There are some safe havens for the smaller islands.
São Vicente Island is a pleasant point of departure for sailing trips. Porto Grande is the largest marina with two marinas on the Barlavento Islands and is an ideal base for chartering yachts. To the north, on Santo Antao, you may sail in Porto Novo port. You have to cross the Canal de Sao Vicente, a 16 km long sea channel that divides the two islands, to get there.
São Nicolau is situated in the southeastern part of São Vicente, a mountainous island with beautiful large beaches. In Porto do Tarrafal you can anchor there. For experienced and adventurous sailors, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) is a challenging but rewarding area. It is not suitable for beginners because of the underdeveloped infrastructure.
Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) is a tropical island group on about the same latitude as St. Lucia in the Caribbean, just south of the Canary Islands. They lie off Senegal’s West African coast and slap bang in the wind belt of the North East. Hot sun, a consistently strong breeze and a mix of islands-some of which are 100 miles distant and others only half a day away, provides a world-class cruising ground for those who want to discover anchorages and islands without tourist hordes.
There are two distinct groups of inhabited islands: Brava, Fogo, Santiago, Maio, Sal, Boa Vista, Sao Nicholau, Sao Antao and Sao Vincente-windward and leeward islands. The islands of Cape Verde are out in the ocean for water cruising and are just about right for a big ocean ship for an island-hopping holiday. Sal has hosted kite surfing around the world and Boa Vista is well known as a blast spot for windsurfing. To those who like it windy and bright, with hot seas to swim in, Cape Verde is a true mecca all year round.
The waters are rich with fish such as wahoo and tuna, and in small boats with lug sails the locals are still sailing the waters. In each port, you see the boats unloading tons of fresh fish or seafood down the jetties on a daily basis and wheelbarrow. You can see whales, sharks or dolphins flying out on the sea between the wave crests.
Similar to the Caribbean, the tropical climate is drier. There have been many droughts in Cape Verde and rain is very scarce. For January and February, average monthly temperatures are about 23 degrees C and the sea is also 23 degrees C warm. The rain average in these months is 2 mm per month, so much drier than the Caribbean and almost free of mosquitoes that can often ruin a tropical paradise.
Some islands, with beaches stretching for miles like Sal and Boa Vista, are quite flat and barren. Others are more generally volcanic with green soils, moisture giving trade wind clouds over mountain peaks and craters, gorges and terraced slopes full of bananas, coffee, sugar cane and crops of all kinds. The locals are brewing a hot rum grog, which is a heady combination along with their soulful folk music.
Cape Verde, as a Portuguese colony, has a dark past and an African slave trade holding station. Slaves built miles of paved roads in the mountains. There is a rich culture, knowledge of their heritage, and awe-inspiringly beautiful music and dancing, telling island tales and battling slavery. Many Cape Verdeans are working abroad today and sending money back home to this proud but poor independent African nation.
Islands are still untouched by tourism without having international airports, but cruise ship berths are just beginning to be established on islands such as Santiago, so don’t wait too long to visit these unique islands.