Cape Verde isn’t your average island nation. Located in the Atlantic Ocean, it spans an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands off the coast of West Africa that has an amazing array of landscapes, shaped by winds off the sea and less rainfall than you’d typically expect. If you’re thinking tropical palm-fringed beaches, you will definitely be surprised.
The capital of Praia is on Santiago, the largest of the islands, fringed by beaches, sheltered harbours and resorts. The main town of Mindelo on the island of São Vicente is the nightlife capital, teeming with bars and nightclubs that heave with crowds every night of the week. If you look for it you’ll be able to find musicians playing some of the styles of music, like morna, that are unique to the islands. In August each year, the town of Baía das Gatas hosts a music festival that attracts local artists and musicians from around the world.
Santo Antão, with its sharp peaks and picturesque panoramas, is one for those seeking green valleys and opportunities to spot some of the endemic and migrating species of birds. This is the place to hike the day away. On the other end of the spectrum is Sal, with its lunar-like landscape and the lively beach town of Santa Maria
What you’re most likely to take away from a visit here, however, is the nation’s love affair with music. DNA from the various styles that have been brought here – fado from Portugal, bossa nova and samba from Brazil, merengue from the Caribbean, African drumming – have morphed to become the islands’ own while still providing a link to the old country. You’ll hear it everywhere you go, from a party on the street to a family gathering, and it will stay with you long after you leave.