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Island Hopping from Volcanoes to the White Beaches of Cape Verde

Island Hopping from Volcanoes to the White Beaches of Cape Verde

This is sponsored guest post by Anna Ridley. Anna is a freelance Travel Writer who has a passion for travel, writing and drinking fizzy wine. After living in the French Alps for two years, she now lives back by the beach in Cornwall where she is attempting to work her way through her “bucket list”.

When it comes to island-hopping my thoughts turn to Indian Ocean destinations such as the Seychelles or the stunning archipelago of Greece.

However, the Atlantic Ocean has its own collection of idyllic isles including the diverse Cape Verde with ten islands offering everything from volcanic peaks and rolling green hills, to sandy beaches situated 400 miles off the coast of West Africa

One of the most striking things about Cape Verde is its breathtaking natural beauty so I headed off to the three main islands of to explore a nation which has been influenced by Portuguese, European and African culture and history.

Santiago is the country’s largest, most popular and most African-influenced island and is home to the capital city, Praia. The island is made up of mountainous terrain, lush valleys and national parks, which makes it a fantastic spot for hikers, bikers and nature lovers. Hikers and cyclists can visit the rugged coast, mountains, and canyon of Ribeira Grande where green vervet monkeys and blue kingfishers can be spotted.

Santa Maria Beach at Cape Verde - Sal Island

Santa Maria Beach at Cape Verde - Sal Island

Sal Island (Portuguese for salt) is geologically the oldest island in Cape Verde and formerly home to a salt mine. White beaches surround the island’s coastline and turquoise waters offer perfect conditions for watersports including surfing, windsurfing and scuba diving. With sea temperatures rarely dropping below 22 degrees, divers can enjoy crystal-clear waters as they explore caves and shark sites with turtles, rays and Tiger sharks. Ponta Preta and Santa Maria Bay are excellent places for surfing and windsurfing and the fishing town of Santa Maria is becoming a thriving coastal resort with new hotels, restaurants and shops.

Fogo Island is the most volcanic island in the archipelago with the most recent eruption in 1995. This island is home to the majestic Mount Fogo (Portuguese for fire) and the black volcanic crater of Cha das Caldeiras which is a must-see for hikers. The world heritage town of São Filipe sits on the slopes of Mount Fogo and is a great place to discover the island’s charming cobbled streets, colourful colonial houses.

To sum Cape Verde’s other islands:

Boa Vista – Closest to Africa, this island boast white sand beaches, the Estoril dunes perfect for quad-biking, and is an important nesting sites for loggerhead turtles with 3,000 of the beautiful marine creatures arriving on the shores each year.

São Vincente – The island’s capital, Mindelo, is a fantastic place to enjoy fine food in cafes or restaurants whilst watching boats and yachts sail into the harbour. The town boasts plenty of live music and fascinating colonial architecture.

São Antão – A fantastic and scenic place for hiking across mountains, crater rims, and ridges. The island offers fantastic canyoning activities where waterfalls cascade down steep mountains.

Maio – Cape Verde’s quietest island has flat terrain similar to the island of Sal. Maio is a great place to relax on uncrowded beaches, swim in the turquoise ocean, trek through the acacia forests, or take a jeep safari around the coastline.

Brava – The smallest inhabited island and also one of the wettest and greenest. The coastline comprises rugged cliffs and there are plenty of walking opportunities including climbing from Monte Fontainhas down to lush valleys and the bay of Faja d’Agua.

Santo Nicolão – Home to Cape Verde’s prettiest town, Ribeira Brava, Santo Nicolão features diverse landscapes including Mount Gordo, green fields, colourful gardens and colonial architecture, stony mountains and volcanic craters.

Santa Luzia – This is Cape Verde’s smallest and only uninhabited island. It was previously used for raising livestock but by the 1990’s the island was abandoned. The arid island has a rugged northern coastline and beaches and sand dunes to the south.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Flickr Photos: yohanlincoln, photon_de