When it comes to places to vacation, Cape Verde may not be one of the first destinations that comes to mind. Cape Verde is an archipelago off the mid-Atlantic (ocean), made up of a cluster of 10 volcanic islands. Its capital Praia is on the Island of Santiago, which is also the location of the country’s major airport. Cape Verde is a mere 350 miles from Senegal, and close to Gambia and Mauritania.
Cape Verde, officially known as the republic of Cabo Verde, is your best choice if you are looking for a vacation spot that offers tropical sunshine, miles of white-sand beaches and an unforgettable experience.
It is said that the weather is pleasant all year round, which I found to be true; the temperature was 25 to 30 degrees Celsius with 17 hours of sunshine, amazing right? The water is not always safe to swim in, however, relaxing on the beach watching the waves, and the currents rip across the surface was blissful. In addition to the amazing views, the lifestyle is relaxed, almost “stress-free”. Praia, where I spent most of my time during my visit to Cape Verde, has a vibrant nightlife, with clubs that play a variety of music that reflect the diversity of the continent.
Traveling in Africa is often a harrowing experience of multiple stops and long layovers; however, my flight to Cape Verde had one stop in Dakar, Senegal, where I opted to spend the night and catch a connecting flight to Praia the following day. My stay in Dakar was very interesting, which I shall talk about in another blog post. A round trip ticket from Nigeria to Cape Verde, depending on the time of the year, would cost about one thousand, five hundred (1,500) US Dollars.
On arrival in Praia, I was immediately struck by the ocean fresh scent of the air, I simply couldn’t get enough of the exhilarating feeling of breathing in such freshness. As always, I arrived at my hotel full of anticipation. As those of you who follow my blog posts already know my passion for hospitality, the hotel experience is always a very special one for me.
I arrived at the Sol Hotel, a 4 star hotel located on the hills of Santiago. My fourth floor room provided a beautiful view of the ocean; I was in heaven. Breakfast at hotels is always for me, a good measure of the worth of a hotel, especially if it’s buffet style. The next morning I was not disappointed. Breakfast was buffet style with an impressive selection of cold cuts, hot dishes, salads and pastries, with freshly brewed coffee, freshly squeezed juices and selection of tropical fruits. This was a great way to start my first day in Praia.
There are many exciting places to visit on the island of Praia, and though I had made a list before traveling, I was overwhelmed by the available choices when I actually got into town; so many awesome places that are not even listed in the online travel guides. While Praia is the main island, each island features its own unique set of attractions and reasons to visit; each island feels vastly different from the other. Here are a few sites on the island of Praia that are definitely worth seeing.
Pope John Paul II memorial park
Pope John Paul II memorial park is notorious for the beautiful Sunset behind the monument of the Pope John Paul II. It is a family friendly place with a great view of Santiago island.
Praia Archaeology Museum
Museu Ethnografico da Praia is an ethnographic museum located in a historic part of the city in a 19th century building, and contains a selection of objects that represent the traditional uses and customs of the Cape Verdean people. A visit to the archaeological museum is a very enlightening and memorable experience.
Ponta do Lobo Lighthouse
Ponta do Lobo Lighthouse was built during the 19th century, and is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country. Visiting the lighthouse was one of the high points of my tour of Praia.
The people of Cape Verde are widely known for their love for music, which shapes their lifestyle. Most people of Cape Verde practice dancing during the day and then show off their dancing skills at night at the various nightclubs. Their unique music is known as morna, a lilting rhythmic form of music, with distinct African influences. You will likely hear morna at clubs, along with a variety of other musical genres.
Cape Verde doesn’t appear to have a varied cuisine. While I enjoyed the platters that were offered to me, they quickly became monotonous, and I began craving some good old Nigerian food (apologies to my delightful Cape Verdean hosts, and hostesses). So I was directed to Africafe, a superb restaurant, located next to Hotel Santiago, that offers an impressive variety of African dishes.
Just a quick tip to Nigerians, traveling to Cape Verde, remember to take extra spices especially pepper. Thank me later. 😉