Cape Verde lies just off the Western Coast of Africa and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to its spectacular scenery, the cluster of islands are the perfect backdrop to all photoshoots, whether they’re for a fashion campaign or your own Instagram profile. So picturesque are the islands in fact, that Britain's Next Top Model featured one of their episodes on the island of Sal. You may recognise the stunning Hotel Melia resort complex from this season with the glamorous judges Abbey Clancy and Nicky Johnston, while the local Bikini Beach bar featured along with some of the island's hot spots.
Where To Stay In Cape Verde
Located just a short drive from the town of Sal, you have the choice of four separate five star all inclusive resorts on the beach front: Melia Dunas, where the models and judges stayed, which is alongside Sol Dunas and features five large pools, several bars and restaurants (including champagne bar, RJ's), a luxurious spa and its own shopping boulevard. Then there is also Melia Llana, the stunning adult-only sister hotel next to the stylish Tui Sensimar Cabo Verde resort, also adult only, and finally the family-friendly, award winning, Tortuga.
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You are able to upgrade to The Level at any of the resorts, an adult-only exclusive members area of each resort, from 30-50 euros per night. This supplement gives guests access to the gorgeous pool club with its own bar and stunning beach view. Sip on their exquisite cocktail menu on the incredibly comfortable pool loungers where the only reason to get up is to help yourself to the ever-changing snack bar a mere few steps away (the sushi and the sweets in particular are delicious).
The Level offers guests exclusive access to this beach side pool and bar
Each resort caters to your every need with exceptionally friendly and attentive staff, with a range of different rooms, suites and villas to suit different budgets and requirements. The apartments and villas are elegantly designed and spacious, while having access to several swimming pools, as well as the beach.
One room worth looking at in particular is the Junior Suite, available at Melia Lana and Tui Sensimar, which offers guests a two-floor villa; the Swim Up gives customers exclusive access to a swimming pool from their patio doors. This is one of the favourite rooms available, and for good reason, so book fast!
The hotel’s Swim Up rooms are a firm favourite with guests offering exclusive access to a pool on your patio doorstep!
The hotel spa (YHI Spa) offers a beautiful and serene area cornered off from the main complex. Indulge in complete tranquillity with treatments ranging from Equilibrium massage with aromatherapy (it is incredible!), through to chocolate treatments and pedicures; all done with serene white rooms with shutters that let in a very gentle and relaxing breeze. Or, if you just fancy a bit of you time, head over and take advantage of the jacuzzi.
It is not just about indulgence here though, the Resort Group’s focus on recycling all water used in the hotels has resulted in saving 267.198m3 water to preserve the environment, so you don't need to worry so much about your water usage while there. The group has also set up The Cape Verde Foundation which provides education and free meals to children of the island, allowing their parents to work. This is scheduled to expand to offer a fourth class to children aged 3-4 in September, as well as a day child care system for babies aged 6-12 months.
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Things To Do On Sal Island, Cape Verde
There are quad bike tours available from Santa Maria if you are looking for an exciting way to see the island. Though not for the faint hearted, they are a lot of fun and an excellent way to explore the incredible views and terrains of the island. If you do choose to take the quad bike tour I would recommend sunscreen (even if cloudy), sunglasses and long sleeves or face being covered in a lot of dirt and dust! Group sizes vary but are a lot of fun, the guides are very attentive and helpful should you get into any sticky spots (as we did!).
You can take a quad bike tour from Santa Maria for an up-close view of the island
Fishing trips are available to book from Santa Maria from around 300 euros for six people for four hours should you fancy a more relaxed activity. This is primarily tuna fishing as they put any sharks they catch back. The beach is worth staying at for the incredible blue sea views and you can enjoy a beer or a cocktail from as little as 3 euros (5 for cocktails) at Bar Aquarius on the front.
Or you can take a fishing trip, also from the town of Santa Maria, and marvel at the beautiful island from afar
Watersports and general fun water activities are also available at the island's premium beach club, the hotel's beach Bikini Beach, which is directly in front of the Melia Llana hotel. There are options for all levels of bravery from banana boats to jet skis, fly jets to wake boarding at reasonable prices. The staff running it are very capable and helpful so you can be confident that you’re in good hands.
Island highlights include the Salt Mines which you may recognise from the BNTM girl’s Festival campaign shots for Boohoo; you can see these independently or on local tours, the quad bike tours also take you to see these. There is also Shark Bay which offers visitors the chance to wade knee-height into the Atlantic to stand among the groups of Lemon sharks that reside there. While they are harmless you will need to get a pair of the shoes to protect your feet from the sea floor!
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Where to eat
At each resort breakfast is served on a terrace buffet style with so many options it is difficult to choose! From cooked breakfasts to omelettes and pancakes, fruit and salad, as well as teas and coffees to order. Lunch options are also plentiful, head over to the buffet again on the terrace or stay poolside at the cafe for salads, mains and sides.
Nami Asian Bistro has some of the most amazing Japanese food, including this soft crab burger!
For a truly amazing Japanese meal with Michelin star chef, Jaime F Ortega, head next door to Nami Asian Bistro. While not included in your All Inclusive it is absolutely worth the extra (check the reviews!). Jaime regularly changes the menu, most recently the soft crab burger and wasabi ice cream were most particularly incredible, but Jaime is happy to talk you through the menu should you like extra information.
Aside from the enormous choice of restaurant and cuisines within the resort, Odio D'agua restaurant has delicious food directly on the sea front with mains from 18 euros. With fresh fish and traditional dishes, the restaurant directly overlooks the sea with breath-taking views and is definitely worth seeing. You can also listen to live music from a local band while you enjoy the menu.
The Nostra Restaurant terrace at Melia Lana offers panoramic views of the resort and the beach
So if you fancy gorgeous white sandy beaches, glorious sunny weather 350 days a year and some of the best cocktails and friendliest locals, you have to try Meliá Llana! Prices start at 206 euros a night (low season). Or for family friendly options see see Tui Sensimar, Melia Dunas and Tortuga.
You can fly to the Cape Verdean island of Sal from £450 return. Thomson flies direct from Gatwick, but you can also use Air Portugal if you wanted to break up the journey by getting into Lisbon from any major British airport, before catching a four-hour flight the rest of the way.
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