Sal island - 10 years on

Updated on Mar 04, 2020 by Claire Hilferty

Blog > Sal island - 10 years on

Claire, from our sales team, recently re-visited Cape Verde after 10 years, and here's how it compared...

It’s been over 10 years since I last travelled to Sal, back when we very first started selling holidays to Cape Verde. I was lucky enough to go three times in our first year of operation.

Previously, there was one small road into the main resort from the airport, and I'd always used it to get my bearings before we hit the larger all-inclusive hotels on the outskirts of town. This time however, my bearings were shot! We made our way to Santa Maria, the main town, on a dual carriage way, and where I was expecting the usual barren landscape, huge complexes had popped up en route that I didn’t recognise at all.

As we got closer to town, I found that my memories slowly started to come back to me, I spotted the familiar Hotel Pontão and Hotel Morabeza, albeit with a newer entrance.

One of the pools at Hotel Morabeza

The beach club at Hotel Morabeza

Hotel Pontão

For our first night, we stayed at the recently opened Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort, and what an addition this hotel is. As we walked through the reception, I was instantly drawn to the inviting pool area stretched out in front of us. Where better to soak up the winter sunshine? In the evening, we ate at the Bounty Restaurant on the beach, and the food was nothing short of amazing! We were lucky enough to sit right next to the show kitchen area, where we watched the chef carefully prepare our lobster and prawn dinner that the waiter had recommended from their specials menu. Our group were all very glad we went with the recommendation, as it was one of our most tasty meals of the entire trip.

Bounty Beach Restaurant 

The long, sweeping bay of golden sand at Santa Maria used to be quiet 10 years ago, but now it’s the place to be seen. The locals enjoy beach volleyball and invite everyone passing to come and join in, and there are little beach bars that have popped up along the sand – the beach itself now has a totally different, yet still very tempting vibe.

Santa Maria Beach

I once went on a dune buggy excursion, and we explored a beach where loggerhead turtles breed, and headed out to the small salt flats on the edge of Santa Maria. At the time that was all they had to show us. This time, we did an island tour, where we went to some truly amazing sites. We visited Palmeira and watched the local fisherman bring in tuna (the same size as them!), and we also watched the local children playing on the beach. We visited the salt mines in the extinct volcano crater at Pedra de Lume, where I was blown away at the sheer scale. You can swim and float in the salty waters, which I highly recommend. My personal highlight, however, had to be wading with the lemon sharks, before heading off to Kite Beach to watch the kitesurfers show off their skills. Thank goodness this was not all on the same beach! 

Pedra de Lume


Another thing that struck me was the development of Santa Maria; it used to be a small square with a couple of restaurants, and there wasn’t a great deal going on. Now it’s completely different, a busy and vibrant town with live music being played in bars with everyone singing and dancing along. People from all walks of life were out and about; from locals to middle-aged couples enjoying their holiday and surfer dudes chilling after a long day of water sports.

Since my last visit, it’s clear that every taste can now be catered for on the island. I’d definitely encourage anyone who opts for an all-inclusive holiday to spend some time venturing out and about, the island has so much to offer and it would be a shame to miss out!

Above: Laginha Beach, Mindelo, São Vicente 


To find out more about holidays to Sal island, explore our guide, or take a look at our holiday ideas for further inspiration from across the archipelago. 


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