Aug 24, 2012 16:48 - holly | 1,817 views
Lying 350 miles off the west coast of Africa, the Cape Verde Islands are a popular tourist destination due to the warm climate, plentiful attractions, ease of access, and the wonderful mix of Portuguese history and African influence. However, one of the main reasons these tiny islands see almost 500,000 visitors each year is because of the unsurpassed conditions for water sports.
The volcanic islands are situated on the Trade Winds belt, and between October and June steady and consistent winds of gale force 4 and 5 can be expected, making the island’s coasts ideal for surfing, windsurfing, parasailing and much more. The winds have such an effect on the area that the Europe cruise ships that visit the country dock in port rather than provide tenders across the choppy waters. Of course, these winds bring the hot African heat, but also the desert dust.
One of the best locations for windsurfing is in Santa Maria, on the south coast of the island of Sal. The waters here are free from large rocks and the beaches are like something from a postcard. The curved bay makes it ideal for both beginners and pros alike, with strong offshore winds at the bay’s edges, and weaker winds in the center. Sal itself is home to Cape Verde’s International airport which sees flights arriving from all over Europe, so access couldn’t be any easier.
Another of the islands which is spectacularly easy to travel to is São Vicente. If you’re visiting Cape Verde as part of a Europe cruise, you’ll dock in the island’s largest city, Mindelo. São Vicente is one of the country’s liveliest islands and from Mindelo it’s just a 7 mile trip to San Pedro, which is one of the most renowned areas for watersports. Speedsurfing is particularly popular here, although for something a bit more relaxing it’s also a great spot for snorkelling and diving.
Cape Verde’s largest island, Santiago, is home to the country’s capital city: Praia. While the main evening activity is dancing and drinking in one the city’s many nightclubs, the midday skies are filled with parasailers. Most of the beachfront hotels offer parasailing as an activity for guests.
There are a number of activity companies and watersports schools across the islands, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. In most cases, your travel agent should be able to book you some lessons in advance, arrange equipment rental, or if you’re arriving by ship, the major Europe cruise operators will include lessons as part of their Cape Verde excursions program.
So if you’re after waves a bit more hardcore than what you find in other destinations, make sure to book a trip to Cape Verde. If you need any more persuading, just take a look at the Professional Windsurfers Association. Cape Verde hosted a world cup event for the PWA for 4 years in a row between 2007 and 2010.
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