Sal is the most touristic island with long, white, sandy beaches and a warm and dry climate. Food from European and local cuisine can be found in the bars and restaurants in Sal. Sal has several bars and clubs, some of which are filled seven days a week. There is plenty to do near the sea: laser sailing, scuba diving, jet skiing and you might spot tropical fish, dolphins and turtles.
Sal has seen an enormous boom in development in recent years, with many condominium and resort developments appearing along the shoreline. High season sees more than 10,000 tourists per week flocking to Sal. Other than the touristic St. Maria in the south, and the non touristic towns of Espargos and Palmeira, the island of Sal is fairly deserted.
Sal is situated to the north-east of the Cape Verdean archipelago. The interior of Sal is flat with long, white, sandy beaches, popular with tourists. The climate is hot and dry and visitors are guaranteed sunny skies with a warm, dry climate.
Cidade dos Espargos
The capital, Cidade dos Espargos, is the largest town on Sal. Espargos means ‘asparagus’ in English and it is called this because of the crop that used to grow here. Espargos is a picturesque Cape Verdean town with painted houses, large squares where tourists can soak up the atmosphere. There are plenty of shops selling local crafts and crafts from West Africa, and restaurants, hotels and bars. Unlike Santa Maria, which is very touristy, Espargos has retained its local way of life with shops, schools, banks and churches.
Santa Maria is the main tourism hub of Sal, with pristine, white, sand beaches stretching for eight kilometers, and warm aqua marine waters. Located on the south of the island, there are some good international and local restaurants, hotels, resorts and bars along the beach front. Local crafts and foods can be purchased at the Santa Catarina Market.
Food and drink in Sal
Local food is fresh, especially the fish, and there are good restaurants in Mindelo and around the island. Try a Pastel com o Diabo Dentro (Pastry with the Devil inside). The ‘Devil’ is usually a filling such as tuna, tomato and sweet potato. Tourists must try the famous Cachupa, like the Portuguese stew.
Be sure to try the famous (or rather ‘infamous’) local spirit: Grogue. Distilled from sugar cane on the island of Santo Antao it is often mixed into a punch. It tastes good but is also lethal so go easy! Wine from the volcano island of Fogo is also popular.
Nightlife in Sal
There are a large variety of restaurants and bars in Santa Maria. Live music, although often not Cape Verdean, is performed in the bars at night.
Beaches of Sal
Sal is renowned for its stunning white sand beaches and tropical aquamarine blue waters. It is a haven for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. Water temperatures vary from 22c in winter to 27c in summer.
Activities and Watersports in Sal
Almost every watersport is available in Sal: sailing, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, scuba diving, deep sea fishing and snorkelling.
Tropical fish, dolphins and turtles can all be seen underwater or from a boat.
Sal’s Salt Flats
Sal literally means ‘salt’ and the island is founded on salt which was collected and exported to Europe. The salt pans can still be seen at Pedro de Lume. A large salt lake attracts many visitors.
Sal was originally an island famed for the production of Salt, as the name suggests. Sal was in fact a deserted island until 1833 when the first salt mine was discovered at Pedra do Lume. Until then the island was a forgotten administrative dependency of Boavista; following this it attracted those looking for work opportunities and people began to settle. In the 1940s the construction of the international airport, by Mussolini, contributed to the island’s survival and economic activity.