A guide to the most beautiful beaches in Cape Verde for relaxing, kite surf or beach holidays
Even though Cape Verde is so much more than beautiful beaches, I wanted to dedicate an article on the best beaches in Cape Verde.
After visiting its mountainous, lush green islands such as Santo Antao, Brava, and Fogo, I keep daydreaming of being on the beach in Cape Verde! Indeed, the turquoise water and the golden sands of the Cape Verde islands are so easy to fall in love with!
This post will give you an overview of the best beaches in Cape Verde on every island of the archipelago.
On top, many of those islands offer top hiking trails that will make a perfect combination with a relaxing beach day.
If you are still planning your trip to Cape Verde and you are wondering where to go in Cape Verde or where to stay in Cape Verde, I can recommend the following guides:
- Travel Guide to Cape Verde including flights and ferries
- Where to stay in Cape Verde
- How to spent Sustainable Holidays in Cape Verde
- Typical expressions to know in Cape Verde
Useful Information about Cape Verde
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So, here it goes; my very personal list of the best beaches in Cape Verde!
1. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Sal
Santa Maria Beach
Santa Maria Beach, Sal is probably one of the most famous beaches in Cape Verde. No wonder with those crystal clear, turquoise waters and fine golden sand! On top, you’ll have plenty of activities to do!
Santa Maria Beach, Cape Verde is located south of the island and is the main beach of Santa Maria which is the main tourist hub of Sal. It’s here where you’ll find all the Cape Verde luxury resorts and the best hotels!
There are countless beach bars and restaurants on Santa Maria Beach. Thus, it’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy.
As it’s the most popular beach, expect to find quite a lot of people and tourists during high season!
The water is calm and perfect to swim. I also enjoyed Santa Maria Beach for a long walk on the pier where the fishermen sell the catch of the day. This beach is a must during your holidays in Sal, Cape Verde!
Ponta Preta Beach (Black Beach)
Ponta Preta Beach, close to Santa Maria, is like the quiet and more natural version of Santa Maria Beach. Ponta Preta Beach is located southwest of the island.
Located right next to the famous Santa Maria Beach, Ponta Preta Beach (also known as “Black Beach“) is much more tranquil and perfect for long walks on the beach.
It’s also a popular spot for turtle watching!
The landscape of Ponta Preta Beach is much more natural and unspoiled. There are almost no resorts, or restaurants! Occasionally, a sailing boat or a kitesurfer passes by. Otherwise, it’s just you and the sound of the waves!
Kite Beach is the best beach in Cape Verde for watersports and kitesurf lovers! You can either reach it by a 20 min walk from Santa Maria, or take an aluguer (collective taxi).
Thanks to the wind and the impressive waves, Kite Beach in Sal is considered one of the best beaches for kitesurfing in the world! Already from far, you can spot hundreds of colorful kites flying around!
That being said, Kite Beach in Sal is nothing for those who want to spend a relaxing day on the beach! It’s super windy! However, if you want to take a kitesurf lesson, this is the place to be!
With a little bit of luck, your instructor will be a kitesurfing world champion! You’ll be able to train with the best of the best! This Sal beach is one of the best beaches in Cape Verde!
Bikini Beach Club
The Bikini Beach Club was built “into” the sea and can be accessed by a scenic pier. It’s the best place to spend a day on the ocean but in a more luxurious way.
You can rent sun loungers, enjoy the jacuzzi and swimming pool, and have exclusive cocktails.
The Bikini Beach Club, Cape Verde also organizes many events that are the perfect occasion to dance ’til the sun rises! It is a must when looking for luxury Cape Verde holidays!
2. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Boa Vista
Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach is the paradise beach of Cape Verde that you can dream of! It stretches for more than 10 km on the south-west of the island! It’s all about white, light yellow sand and turquoise water!
The beach is so vast that sometimes, you’ll feel like you have the entire ocean and beach for yourself! During the season, you can even sometimes spot whales!
It’s thus perfect for long walks along the beach. However, be careful with swimming as the tides can be very strong!
As it’s quite off-beat, you better bring water and some snacks along! There’s almost no shade, so I recommend taking a hat and sunscreen.
As there are (still) no large resorts, you’ll be privileged to enjoy this beautiful place. But please remember though to always be respectful to Mother Nature!
Santa Monica Beach is a must-do when in Cape Verde, and can be visited with a tour.
Praia de Chaves
Praia de Chaves is one of the most popular places for kitesurfing in Boa Vista. This beach is about 5 km long and is also very coveted for long beach walks. There are some resorts close to Rabil. They figure among the top hotels in Cape Verde! The rest is still unspoiled!
There’s also a kitesurf school for those who want to take their first lessons. Sometimes, the wind and the sea can be rough though! Thus, please always be careful before going for a swim!
Praia de Atalanta with its shipwreck
Praia de Atalanta and Costa da Boa Esperança are located in the north of the island. Praia de Atalanta is one of the most important places to visit in Boa Vista as it is home to the most famous shipwreck of the Cape Verde islands!
Indeed, this old Spanish cargo ship ran aground in the 1960s and became a popular photo motive for tourists. Much of the boat has fallen apart since the 1960s, and eventually, it will completely disappear! Thus, be quick to visit!
Praia de Atalanta is vast, and also here, the sea can be rough sometimes! I also heard of some armed robberies that happened on this beach so please watch out! However, this beach remains a must-do during your Boa Vista, Cape Verde holidays!
Praia de Cabral / Praia de Cruz
Praia de Cabral, also known as “Praia de Cruz”, is the beach of the capital, Sal Rei. It’s tiny in comparison with the other beaches of Boa Vista.
But even as a capital, Sal Rei only has the size of a village! Thus it has this characteristic “No stress” vibe of Cape Verde.
However, you’ll find all the facilities if you’re looking for a perfect day on the beach. There are many beach bars that offer shade and refreshing drinks.
From here, you can also walk to the nearby Capela de Nossa Senhora de Fátima.
3. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Maio
Maio can be compared to Sal or Boa Vista before they were “discovered” and exploited by large resorts, and invaded by the tourist masses. Consequently, Maio has the most laid-back feeling and the most pristine beaches in Cape Verde.
Being one of the least visited islands of Cape Verde, you’ll mostly share the vast beaches only with the local community which is the most warm-hearted ever!
Bitche Rocha is the main beach of Vila do Maio (also known as “Porto Ingles“). It’s here where the colorful fishermen’s ships arrive. It’s clean, safe to swim, and also a fabulous place for people watching!
From Bitche Rocha, Vila do Maio, you’ll spot the pier which will eventually become a big harbor one day!
Behind the pier, you’ll have the most beautiful beach in Cape Verde I have ever seen! It’s huge, vast, and completely empty! However, please don’t swim here! The tides can be dangerous and the winds quite strong! I consider the beach behind the pier of Maio one of my “happy places” on this planet!
This is probably the best beach in Maio! It’s easy to see why: it’s vast and empty, the sand is so fine, the waters are turquoise, you have views on the hills of Maio, and on top, it’s safe to swim!
Also known as “Praia Gonçalo“, the beach is located close to Pedro Vaz and Pilao Cao. There are no food stalls here, so make sure to bring water, some snacks, and sunscreen of course!
You better reach the beach with a 4×4 vehicle or with a guided tour.
Praiona will definitely be a highlight of your Cape Verde islands holidays.
Ribeira Dom Joao Beach
Ribeira Dom João has one of the largest populations of Maio after Porto Ingles. It’s famous for its cheese factory managed by ladies from the local community.
Make sure to stop here and fuel up on goat cheese! It’s on the way to the beach, and a great way to connect with the local community!
After crossing Ribeira Dom Joao and circumventing the palm oasis, you’ll reach the coast. The “road” finishes on top of a cliff from which you’ll enjoy spectacular views on the beaches of Ribeira Dom Joao!
Make your way down to the beach and get ready to spend an unforgettable day! But also here; be aware of the tides and the wind!
According to a local, this beach is coveted among surfers (even though there are not many that make their way to Maio).
Santana Beach is located next to Morrinho, in the north-west of the island.
It is a coveted spot to watch turtles! Other beaches to observe turtles nestling are Praia Real and Ponta Preta.
4. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Sao Vicente
The beach can be reached within a 10-minute walk from Mindelo. It is not very large but it has the most crystal clear turquoise waters on the island, and the sand is very fine and golden!
Recently, a beach bar opened up serving refreshing drinks and tasty snacks. It’s the perfect place to spend a day on the beach, and watch the daily grind of Mindelo.
Laginha Beach is safe for swimmers and protected from the wind. If you’re lucky, you’ll even assist one of the events that are sometimes held on the beach! I don’t recommend visiting Laginha Beach at night as it might be dangerous!
Sao Pedro Beach
Sao Pedro Beach is the best beach in Sao Vicente for windsurfers! Located only a few minutes behind the airport of Sao Vicente, this beach is quite windy and has strong tides! Thus, I don’t recommend swimming here!
There’s a windsurfing school where you can rent windsurfing material, and take lessons. There are also a few apartments in construction and the Foya Branca Hotel has a lovely terrace to enjoy views of the beach.
Sao Pedro is a great beach to visit when you’re up for a walk on the beach and want to enjoy the ambiance of a small fishing village.
There’s also a trail going to the lighthouse which will provide you with spectacular views of the coast of Sao Vicente. Take good walking shoes with you as the path is sometimes quite steep!
Praia Grande is one of my favorite beaches in Sao Vicente! It’s located on the east of the island, in the bay between Bahia das Gatas and Calhau.
Praia Grande is huge and when I visited, I was almost alone here! The views on the coast and the mountains of Sao Vicente make this one a real paradise beach on Cape Verde!
Also here, the tides are strong and when I visited, there were quite big waves! So, it’s not for swimming but rather for playing in the waves!
After walking on the beach, and playing with the waves for endless hours, I recommend heading to Calhau (about a 15 min walk), and have lunch in one of the restaurants that are famous for their seafood.
I recommend Restaurant Hamburg (they prepare their seafood on the barbecue!), Chez Loutcha and Tony do Calhau. All these places are quite popular on Sundays!
You can reach Praia Grande with an aluguer (collective taxi) from Mindelo to Calhau. However, be aware that by night, there are fewer aluguers (collective taxis) going back to Mindelo!
5. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Santo Antao
Santo Antao is not really known as being a top beach destination on Cape Verde. Thanks to its mountains and dramatic valleys, created many years ago by volcanic eruptions, Santo Antao became a paradise for hikers and outdoor lovers.!
It’s one of my favorite places to hike, and the mountainous landscape simply left me speechless! It’s very easy to fall in love with Santo Antao!
If after all that walking, you want to spend some time on the beach, you need to be prepared to make some efforts to get there! Santo Antao doesn’t really have beaches, and it’s dangerous to swim in places that are not marked as proper beaches!
Almost every year, tourists die because they wanted to refresh themselves after a hike! The tide carried them away! So, please; don’t!
However, there are a few beaches on Santo Antao that allow you to spend a lovely day on the beach.
Monte Trigo de Tarrafal, and its adjacent beach, mainly consists of fishermen, and until recently, they had no electricity! Nowadays, you can find a few shops and bars.
Tarrafal Beach is characterized by its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful views on the rocky coast. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot a whale or a turtle!
Tarrafal is usually very quiet and thus perfect for a swim! However, always trust your gut! As it’s very tempting to stay longer in Tarrafal, you should have a look at the few guesthouses!
Otherwise, you can easily reach Tarrafal by aluguer from Porto Novo or even by hiking.
Praia do Topo
Praia do Topo is located just outside Porto Novo, which is the village where the ferry from Sao Vicente arrives.
The beach has beautiful views on the rocky coast of Santo Antao, and is perfect to enjoy some rest before heading to northern Santo Antao, and enjoy the hikes.
The ambiance is laid-back, and as the beach is protected from the winds, you’ll just enjoy swimming here!
Ponta do Sol Beach
Finally, there are also a few beaches in the north of Santo Antao! This is good news as the best hikes of Santo Antao are all located in the north! Some of the most famous trails of Santo Antao are Cova – Paul Valley, Ponta do Sol – Fontainhas – Cha d’Igreja, and Xoxo.
Ponta do Sol has one of the largest populations on Santo Antao and can be seen as the main tourist hub on the island. Here, you’ll find a beautiful town center, many bars, shops and a lively local community.
There are two places to swim in Ponta do Sol. You can refresh yourself where the fishermen boats arrive or you can opt to visit the beach of Ponta do Sol which can only be reached by hiking a rather dangerous trail, or by asking fishermen to take you.
This beach is called “Praia de Lisboa“, and is one of the only beaches in northern Santo Antao.
Please don’t go for a swim on the beaches during your hike from Ponta do Sol to Cha d’Igreja! It’s here where already several tourists have died due to the strong tides!
Natural Swimming Pools of Sinagoga
The natural swimming pools of Sinagoga are some of my favorite places to swim in northern Santo Antao! There’s also a large beach close to it. However, the tides are too strong to swim there! It’s actually something only for advanced surfers!
Luckily, there are the natural swimming pools that are protected from waves and winds! They’re very enjoyable, and offer fabulous views on the mountains of Santo Antao!
They can be reached when you come from Ribeira Grande to Sinagoga. Right after the tunnel, you turn left and walk down the coast. There’s a little mercearia (grocery) in Sinagoga where you can stock up on snacks and drinks.
The name of the village comes from a Jewish community that left Portugal and found a new home in Santo Antão. Nowadays, you can still see the impressive ruins of the synagogue which are right next to the natural swimming pools.
After the Jewish community extinguished, the building was used as a sanatorium to help leprosy patients.
Despite the macabre historical background, the ruins are a great photo motive, and the swimming pools are a lovely place to visit during your Cape Verde holidays!
6. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Santiago Island
I tend to say that Santiago island is for the undecided ones. It has the city life in Praia, important attractions in Cidade Velha for history buffs, mountains to be hiked, and gorgeous beaches to hang out.
Located in the north of Santiago island, Tarrafal Beach is without any doubt one of the best beaches on Santiago island. It’s adjacent to the green Monte Graciosa and Tarrafal.
Only a few years ago, Tarrafal was not touristy at all! Now, more and more visitors come to Tarrafal in order to enjoy the beauty of its beach.
Another reason to visit Tarrafal is its museum about the political prisoners held in Tarrafal concentration camp between 1936 and 1974.
Tarrafal Beach is pure bliss thanks to its soft sand, clear waters and amenities! It’s safe to swim and it’s a popular destination for family travelers too. As Tarrafal is one of the most popular getaways on Santiago island, please be aware at night from muggers!
Quebra Canela Beach
Quebra Canela Beach is one of the larger beaches of Praia. Located southwest of the city center, it has fine sands and even a restaurant! During weekends, it can become quite crowded!
Some readers complained about the litter at Quebra Canela Beach!
Prainha Beach is described by some as the most picturesque beach of Praia!
Located at a short walk from the city center, this beach is small but has everything it takes to have a fabulous day at the beach!
Authorities are making efforts to keep the beach clean and consequently, it got quite popular! It’s nowadays a fabulous place for families! As the water is calm, you can easily go for a swim.
There are a few bars, but no shade at all!
Praia do Sao Francisco
A visit to Praia do Sao Francisco is a must if you love remote beaches.
It is a very nice sandy beach, abt 15/20 mins driving from Praia. It comes with a second smaller beach when passing the rocks. Much parking space is available and it is a great place to snorkel (if the visibility allows).
7. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Brava and Fogo
However, that doesn’t mean that you need to renounce on a refreshing bath!
Brava: Faja d’Agua Natural Swimming Pools
There are not many beaches in Brava, but the island probably boasts some of the prettiest natural swimming pools of Cape Verde! They can be found in Faja d’Agua, and provide lovely views on the rocky coast of Brava.
You can easily spend the entire day here and enjoy the swimming pools in all their beauty!
There are no facilities but I highly recommend having lunch in Faja d’Agua, and having a look at the desert airport of Brava which is a short walk away from the swimming pools.
Brava: Praia Porto de Furna
Praia Porto de Furna is located in Furna. It’s one of the only natural beaches in Brava! It’s certainly not the best one to swim though, as the ferry from Fogo arrives here, and it’s also the place where the fishermen set out to sea!
However, Praia Porto de Furna is a lovely place for people watching! The sea around Brava can be very rough so please be aware of the tides!
Fogo Beach, Sao Felipe
Fogo has one of the most stunning attractions in Cape Verde: the volcano! Whereas the volcano is one of the top Cape Verde tourist attractions, there are a few beaches that provide a welcome refreshment after hiking in Fogo.
There is Praia da Bila which is located 40 m below Sao Felipe, the capital of Fogo. However, it can be sometimes dirty, and the sea can be rough! Thus, be aware of the currents and tides!
An alternative to Praia da Bila is Porto de Vale de Cavaleiros. There’s a small beach that is cleaner and the water is less rough.