A land of desert planes covered in the dust of the Sahara desert, many visitors approach Sal with the view that there is not much to do and that it is a simple fly-and-flop with little chance for anything else. Having visited the Cape Verdean island recently for just this purpose we found ourselves drawn in by the island’s sights and found heaps of things to fill our time. Read on for some of my favourite things to do across the island with some pointers on things to avoid.
1. Swim With Sharks
Lemon sharks to be exact. Travelling to the beautiful white sand beaches of Sal I did not expect to be wandering into the waters with sharks but when we saw the opportunity we couldn’t say no (well my boyfriend did, several times, but we won’t go into that…). Shark Bay is a nesting ground for these non-lethal sharks and you can even wade out into the shallows with them. Having underestimated their size, I can assure you that my heart definitely skipped a beat when I caught sight of the full length of these things in an approaching wave. A nearby cove offers a more laid back experience with all of the babies coming to say hello as they swim around your feet. Just be sure to take or rent a pair of water shoes for this trip as the rocks can be quite sharp!
Fun Fact: Lemon Sharks track life in the water through heartbeats, it’s a weird feeling being aware of your own heartbeat in your legs as you see them attracted to it.
Head to Kite Beach off-season to catch the one-of-a-kind sight of the nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtles as they make their way from the sea to lay their eggs. Specialist not-for-profits around Cape Verde run evening excursions to see this taking place without disturbing the turtles and offer important lessons on island conservation efforts as well as fun facts about the turtles themselves. Definitely one to try if you are visiting the island. Check out the guys over at Project Biodiversity to find out more about conservation efforts on the island.
3. Salt Lakes
Whether you want to check out a spot packed with significance for the island’s history or just want a good exfoliation (legend has it, these ponds can take 10 years off you), everyone should take a dip in the dense waters of the salt lakes. These waters are so salty that you can float in a similar way to the Dead Sea without sinking.
Top Tip: Save a Euro for the showers (not included in admission prices) if you are planning on continuing your travels during the day or leave the salt on for the full-blown effect.
4. See the Mirages
Known for its desert-like landscape, Sal is the perfect place to experience the mind-boggling confusion of a mirage. You may think it won’t affect you, but when you see a jeep driving through what looks like a lake, your head will give a spin. This is also the perfect place to take a cool forced perspective shot of a tiny you being held by your gigantic photo-buddy.
5. Visit Santa Maria
The main tourist hub of Sal island is a sea of brightly-coloured buildings and gorgeous beachfront just a short walk away from the majority of the island’s hotels. Something about the water just looks so much more alluring here and you can’t miss the locals chopping and skinning their fish wares on the pier (complete with small children running around with giant knives).
Want to find out more about Cape Verde’s Sal? Check out this helpful infographic for a handy overview of the island or take a look at my complete guide to Sal here and be sure to check back here for more Sal updates coming up.