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 or 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. Even though Sal island and Boa Vista are most famous for beach holidays in Cape Verde, all the other islands have gorgeous beaches and even natural swimming pools too!
Thus, be ready to go beyond Cape Verde vacation hotspots such as Santa Maria beach in Sal or Boa Vista and explore less known islands such as Maio, Brava or Sao Vicente. 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
My essential tips to visit Cabo Verde:
- Try to find cheap flights to Sal or Boa Vista and discover the other islands from here
- Book your Cabo Verde activities and tours in advance with Viator.
- You can withdraw money in the local currency at Praia, Sal and Sao Vicente
- Buy a local SIM card at the airport (wifi connection hard to find if you’re not in Sal or Boa Vista). When arriving in Praia, 2 companies offered their SIM cards for free! We went for the CV Movel: it has the best coverage, very affordable and 2GB was enough for one week.
- To make the most of your Cape Verde trip, I recommend Lonely Planet Cape Verde
Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with World Nomads.
So, here it goes, my very personal list of the best beaches in Cape Verde.
1. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Sal island
Santa Maria Beach
Santa Maria beach in Sal island 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. Book here the best activities in Sal, Cape Verde.
Santa Maria beach, Cape Verde is located south of the island and is the main beach of Santa Maria village which is the main tourist hub of Sal island. 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 the Santa Maria beach for a long walk on the pier where the Cape Verdean sell the catch of the day. This beach is a must during your holidays in Sal Cape Verde. Book here the best activities in Sal, Cape Verde.
Ponta Preta Beach (Black Beach)
Ponta Preta beach, also 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, also known as Black Beach, is much more tranquil and perfect for long walks on the beach.
It’s also a popular spot for turtles. Book here your turtle watching experience
The landscape of Ponta Preta beach is much more natural and unspoiled. There are almost no resorts nor restaurants. Occasionally a sailing boat or a kite surfer pass by. Otherwise, it’s just you and the sound of the waves.
Kite Beach is the best beach in Cape Verde for watersport and kitesurf lovers! You can either reach it by a 20 min walk from Santa Maria village or you take an aluguer to Kite beach. Book here your kite lesson in Sal, Cape Verde.
Thanks to the wind and the impressive waves, the kite beach on Sal island 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 suuper 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. Book here your kite lesson in Sal, Cape Verde.
Bikini Beach Club
The 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 Bali sun loungers, enjoy the jacuzzi and swimming pool, have exclusive cocktails and much more.
The Bikini beach Cape Verde club also organizes many events that are the perfect occasion to dance ’til the sun rises! The Bikini Beach Club 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 have been dreaming of for a long time. 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. Book here the best tours of Boa Vista, Cape Verde.
The beach is so vast and 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 strong. As it is quite off-beat, better bring water and a snack! There is almost no shade, so I recommend taking a hat and sunscreen. This makes Boa Vista one of the best islands for winter holidays in Cape Verde.
There are still no large resorts, so you’ll be privileged to enjoy this beautiful place. Please remember to be respectful to Mother Nature.
The Santa Monica beach is a must-do when in Cape Verde and can be visited with a tour. Book here the best tours of Boa Vista, Cape Verde.
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.
Sometimes the wind and sea can be rough. Thus be careful before going for a swim!
Praia de Atalanta with 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’s home to the most famous shipwreck of the Cape Verde islands.
Indeed, this old Spanish cargo ship ran aground in the 1960s, it 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! Book here your tour to the Boa Vista shipwreck.
The Praia de Atalanta beach is vast, but also here the sea can be rough sometimes. I also heard of 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 has the size of a village. Thus it has this characteristic “no stress” vibe of Cape Verde.
However, you’ll have all the facilities 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 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 it was “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 fisherman’s ships arrive. It’s clean and safe to swim here. It’s also a fabulous place for people watching.
From Bitche Rocha beach in Vila do Maio, you’ll spot the pier which will eventually become a big harbour…one day! Behind the pier, you’ll have the most beautiful beach in Cape Verde I have ever seen! It’s huge, vast and empty!
However, please don’t swim here! The tides can be dangerous and the winds a bit strong. I consider the beach behind the pier of Maio one of my “happy places” on this planet.
This is probably the best beach of Maio. According to my guide “Bemvindo”, it’s his favorite beach. It’s easy to see why: it’s vast, it’s empty, the sand is so fine, the waters are turquoise and you have views on the hills of Maio.
And on top, it is 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 and a snack. And some 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 is one of the largest population of Maio island 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 the village of 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 be ready to spend an unforgettable day on the beach. 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).
Baia de Santana is the beach of the village Morrinho. It is also a coveted spot to watch turtles. The beach is located northwest of the island.
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 city center. It is not very large but it has the most crystal clear turquoise waters on the island. 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 is 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 can dangerous.
Sao Pedro Beach
Sao Pedro beach is the best beach on 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 is a windsurfing school where you can rent windsurf material and take lessons. There are also a few apartments in construction and the Foya Branca Hotel has a lovely terrace to enjoy views on the beach.
Sao Pedro is a great beach to visit when you are up for a walk on the beach and want to enjoy the ambiance of a small fishermen village. There is also a trail going to the lighthouse which will provide you spectacular views on 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 is located on the east of the island in the bay between Bahia das Gatas and Calhau.
The Praia Grande beach 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. Book here the best tours of Sao Vicente
Also here the tides are strong and there were quite big waves when I visited. 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. Read more about typical Cabo Verde food here.
I recommend Restaurant Hamburg (they prepare their seafood on the barbecue!), Chez Loutcha or Tony do Calhau. All those places are quite popular on Sundays!
You can reach Praia Grande with an aluguer from Mindelo to Calhau. However, be aware that by night there are fewer aluguers 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 during 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.
Tarrafal beach is probably the most famous beach in Santo Antao. It is located on the southwest of Santo Antao island (whereas the most spectacular hikes are all located in the northwest of the island).
The village of Monte Trigo de Tarrafal and its adjacent beach mainly consists of fishermen and until recently there was no electricity here. Nowadays, there are a few shops, a health center and a few bars here.
The beach of Tarrafal 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! It’s very tempting to stay longer in Tarrafal, thus you should have a look at the few guesthouses. Otherwise, you can easily reach Tarrafal by aluguer from Porto Novo or even by hiking. And I heard that some apartments for sale in Cape Verde can be found in Tarrafal.
Praia do Topo
Praia do Topo beach 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 North Santo Antao and enjoy the hikes.
The ambiance is laid-back and as the beach is protected from the winds, you’ll enjoy swimming here.
Ponta do Sol Beach
Finally, there are also a few beaches in the North of Santo Antao island! This are 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 or Xoxo village.
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 2 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. Book here the best tours and hikes in Santo Antao, Cape Verde
Please don’t go for a swim on the beaches during the 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 in Sinagoga
The natural swimming pools in Sinagoga are some of my favorite places to swim in Northern Santo Antao. There is also a large beach close to it, however, the tides were 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 are 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 is a little shop (mercearia) in Sinagoga where you can stock up on snacks and drinks. Read here more detailed instructions about hiking to Sinagoga.
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 Cabo Verde holidays.
6. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Santiago
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 is without any doubt one of the best beaches in Santiago. It’s adjacent to the green Monte Graciosa mountain and Tarrafal village. 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 camp between 1936 and 1974. Book here your tour to Tarrafal.
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 in Santiago, please be aware at night from muggers. Book here your tour to Tarrafal.
Quebra Canela is one of the larger beaches of Praia city. Located southwest of the city center, it’s not too big, has fine sands and even a restaurant. During weekends it can be quite crowded.
Some readers complained about the litter at Quebra Canela. Book here your Santiago island tour
Prainha beach is described by some as the most picturesque beach of Praia city. Located at a short walk from the city center, this beach is small but has everything it takes to have a fabulous day on 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 go for a swim.
There are a few bars, but no shade at all! Book here your Santiago island tour
7. Best Beaches in Cape Verde: Brava & Fogo
Brava is one of the smallest inhabited islands in Cape Verde. It’s coveted among hikers and trekkers due to its mountainous landscape. 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 on Brava, but the island probably boasts some of the prettiest natural swimming pools on 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 its beauty.
There are no facilities but I highly recommend having lunch in Faja d’Agua village and to have a look at the desert airport of Brava which is a short walk away from the swimming pools.
Praia Porto de Furna is located in the village of Furna. It’s one of the only natural beaches in Brava island. It’s certainly not the best one to swim, as the ferry from Fogo arrives here and it’s also the place where fishermen set out to sea.
However, Praia Porto de Furna is a lovely place for people watching. The sea of Brava can be very “brave”, (unsteady) so 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 on the beach after hiking in Fogo.
There is Praia da Bila beach which is located 40m below the capital of Fogo, Sao Felipe. 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 harbor Porto de Vale de Cavaleiros. There is a small beach that is cleaner and the water is less rough.
The most popular beach of the island is Ponta da Salina in Sao Jorge. Book here the best tours of Fogo