Sitting at the airport with a pizza and coffee waiting to come home is always a bittersweet moment for me, this time it seems particularly difficult…
Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) has gotten under my skin; the people and the authenticity, the beauty and the barrenness
Just over a week ago we took the 5.5 hour flight from Manchester to the island of Sal. I’ll be honest I was apprehensive… All Inclusive holidays are not something we have ever done as a family and I was scared of being ‘stuck’ in the hotel and feeling like I could be anywhere in the world.
Looking over the turquoise fringe island as we came in to land definitely made me smile…
We were staying at the RIU Palace Santa Maria, and we enjoyed everything about the hotel. The food was incredible- we tried all the specialty restaurants (these are all included in the All Inclusive program) – the Japanese was very good! I have to say though, the choice on the buffet was fabulous and if you decided not to go to these alternative restaurants you wouldn’t be disappointed. The RIU Palace has direct access to the beach and 3 of the 6 swimming pools over look the amazing sands. The location of the hotel is great, a 30 minute stroll along the beach takes you into Santa Maria town where there are some nice bars and restaurants giving you the option of trying out the ‘catch of the day’ and get a real flavour of the local life.
The complex, really lends itself to families with preteen children. The kids sounded like they were having a great time in the clubs and in the fantastic waterpark. Alternatively if you are travelling as a couple; the restaurants and adult only swim up bars – plus the romantic sunset walks on the beach make this hotel perfect!
Something great to note was the facilities place for guests that are in wheelchairs or of limited mobility. There were ramps, spacious seating areas in the dining rooms and additional measures around the pools such as hoists.
Top Tip; Friday nights is RIU party night. It alternates weekly between a white party and a neon party. It was fabulous fun and not to be missed!
The service, cleanliness and facilities were great. Something to note is that the gym and indoor pool is for over 18s which we hadn’t clocked, but Holly soon made use of the spa with her Aloe Wrap 😊
If you have teenagers, maybe look at the Hilton or Robinson Cabo Verde which is slightly closer to Santa Maria and have loads of water sport and beach based activities. Robinson Cabo Verde has a very cool, surfy vibe and a fab beach bar – we really liked it here. Plus a big selling point for me was that you could swim in the sea!
I loved the fact that you could get out an explore. We booked a private tour as we wanted to get to the heart of this island and find out more. What a fantastic day – Bumping around on the back of a pick up was an adventure itself! I could go about this trip all day. I loved it, but I only have so much space so here are my highlights:
✨Sharks Bay – walking out into the crystal clear sea to swim with the lemon sharks is an amazing experience! They grow up to be around 3 meters long and although I could see the big ones further out to sea, I was quite happy with the babies swimming around my legs 🦈
✨Salinas De Pedra De Lume is very unique. This was the largest salt works in Cape Verde, but now is know locally as the ‘dead sea’ as you can swim- well float in the salt lake which lies within a crater of the volcano.
✨Olho Azul – ‘the blue eye’ is spectacular! If you arrive at Buracona around noon and the sun is shining you’ll be in for a great surprise as the black hole turns a vivid blue as the light reflects from the rocks and the Sandy bottom of the cave!
The island isn’t that big, about 30km long and about 12 wide, so it’s easy to get around in a day! Be prepared to get dusty though, especially when your exploring the inner lands lunar landscape and mirages. It’s so baron, it’s breath taking!
In contrast the coastlines are incredible beautiful! Bright blue seas lap against white sand beaches, kite surfers filling the sky with colour as they brave the surf and boats bobbing along in the hope of seeking out whales and turtles in their natural habitat.
Before we travelled there were a couple of recommendations we wanted to try out! Bikini Beach Club was one of them. We arrived around lunch time and had booked a pool front cabana bed for a minimum spend 70 Euros. It was such good value for money! We had a fabulous food , amazing cocktails and basically a private pool as it was really quiet! It started getting busy as it hit early evening and the super trendy DJ started playing – that was our Q to leave as it becomes adult only after 7pm. Just to pre-warn you the beach club is a little weather beaten and could do with a sparkle so don’t expect Ibiza standard, however the staff were absolutely fantastic and we would definitely go back.
The beach club is located on the promenade that’s backed by the Melia Llanas and Tui Blue Cabo Verde. These hotels looked gorgeous and the beach here is very different to the Santa Maria beach as it looks as through the hotels have invested in man made coves meaning it’s a lot safer to swim in the sea as these temper the waves. No matter where you are on the island, make sure you heed the warnings of the lifeguard, the sea can be pretty choppy! The Bob Marley Bar in the same area had also been recommended but we didn’t have time to try this.
From this here you can walk down to Ponta Preta beach where there is a couple of cool beach bars. The world kite surfing championships was taking place whilst we were there which was an amazing spectacle.
Our last night arrived and we’d booked a table at the Bounty Restaurant about 5 minutes drive from our hotel. We’d had a sneaky lunch here the day before and the food was AMAZING. The evening lived up to our expectations, overlooking the beach, lovely wine and excellent service.
As you can see, getting out and about was easy and affordable using taxi’s or taking a trip. Electric bike tours and dune buggy trips are also really popular.
The local people are so helpful and friendly and it felt very comfortable walking around outside the hotel complex. Beach sellers approach you selling their wares ( there is some quite good stuff actually! Nick managed to get his fridge magnets) however is you say that you are not interested they don’t hassle you at all.
There is a wonderful saying here …
Hakuna Matata which means ‘no worries’
We will definitely be back to explore these islands more, maybe a triple centre exploring Sao Nicolau, Sao Vicente (home to one of the most beautiful bays in the world) and Santo Antao.
For now I’ll sit and reminisce on the flight home about this fabulous winter sun destination and all it has to offer!
Pop in and see me, Nick or Holly for more information. We would love to tell you more x