Updated: Nov 9, 2019
The Cabo Verde Islands, located just off the western coast of Africa, are not very well known to the world. I had been to the Island of Sal in Cabo Verde, in 2016. Falling in love with what I experienced, I have always wanted to go back, but of course to see different Islands.
Cabo Verde is easy to get to from my country; Gibraltar. In 2016 I drove to the nearby airport of Malaga in Spain, then got a connection flight in Lisbon, which have direct flights to some of the Islands in Cabo Verde. This year, I decided to drive the 650KM from Gibraltar to Lisbon in Portugal. The Island I decide to visit this year was Boa Vista.
My first day on Boa Vista, was spent familiarising myself with the town I was staying in, Sal Rei. There are two huge TUI Hotels on the Island, but I decided I wanted to stay with the locals, away from all the tourists. I also went to visit the dive centre I would dive with, making sure everything was set for my dives, for the rest of the week. The dive centre is located a short work from the main town centre in Sal Rei, but although I thought I would be able to walk to that centre every morning, I was told that the dives would take place from a different dive centre in one of the main TUI resorts. This incurred a transfer charge every day, as the resort is a few kilometres away, which was not walkable from where I was staying.
My first dive was on a volcanic lava ridge, beneath the surface, teaming in marine life. Having decided to choose a macro lens on my camera for the first dives, it was a good choice! The second dive was done on a shallower wreck, closer to land. Again the wreck was teaming with marine life. Lobsters, a large sting ray, shoals of fish in their hundreds, could all be found here.
Boa Vista is well known for its diving with sand tiger sharks and its nurse sharks. But unfortunately even though I dived all the shark hot spots, I didn’t get to see neither of these sharks. I was told by the dive master, that probably due to sea temperatures rising during the summer, the sharks might have gone further out to deeper colder waters. All dives are done by boat. Everyone’s equipment is taken to the boat by the dive masters, and then you are taxied to the main dive boat, from a smaller boat which awaits you at the beach shore, just a few metres from the dive centre. Something I found confusing and hard to understand is, that although I was using the dive centre in the TUI resort, I still had to book and pay my diving services at the dive centre in Sal Rei, miles away. I wasn’t allowed to settle my bill at the resort’s dive centre itself!
The diving was good in Boa Vista, but Sal has better dive sites overall. Although visibility was good, Sal has even clearer seas. It also boosts nicer dive sites full of corals, of which I noticed lacked in Boa Vista. Maybe if I would have seen some sharks in Boa Vista, my opinion on the diving here would have been different.
I also enjoyed the Island of Sal more than Boa Vista. In Boa Vista, it’s like you are in a deserted Island. I did not see any tourists at all in the whole week I was in the town of Sal Rei, I only saw other tourists in the big resorts, which are miles away from the main towns and villages on the Island. Boa Vista boosts a desert covered in huge sand dunes, which Sal Island didn’t have. I had fun hiring a quad bike in the desert. Both Islands have Lemon Sharks & Turtle nesting sites to visit, but I found it extremely hard to find a tour I could join. In the end I had to settle on the last day of my holiday, to pay the full price of a 4 by 4 car, which is the cost of 4 tourist, as there was no other people around the town to join me in a guided tour of the Island.
Overall I prefer Sal Island for the diving and Island itself. I would probably come back to Cabo Verde one day, but it would be to another Island instead. Maio Island is one on my the bucket list!