Exploring Tourism in Cape Verde
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Sal Island

Sal, Cape Verde

Sal - Itinerary

Seen from the skies when the plane approaches the runway at the Amílcar Cabral airport, it displays a lunar landscape, somehow disappointing. Then, it presents itself as one of the most bathing islands and the best known of the archipelago by tourists. We are on the island of Sal.

It started by being called Lhana, because it is almost flat, despite the peculiarity of the existing reliefs; but later it gained the name of Sal through the industry that between the eighteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century gave it fame and which today is almost abandoned as an extractive industry, to give an almost exclusive place to tourism.

Sal is currently the island with the youngest population in the archipelago and has gone through different stages of development that have been changing its way of life. In the most recent decades, the tourist explosion of Cape Verde emerged, of which the island of Sal became a pioneer and exponent, along with Boa Vista, sought by people from all over the world, but mainly from Europe, within a few hours.

Testimonies from the times of the salt industry are still present in the territory, the most important being those of Pedra de Lume, in the central region, not far from Espargos, the main urban center of the island.

The exploration of salt in Pedra Lume was ongoing and still exists inside the crater of an extinct volcano. Access is through a small tunnel that seems to separate two worlds, ordered by the then owner, António Manuel Martins, in 1850, who became vice-consul of the United States and ended up selling Pedra Lume to Frenchmen from Bordeaux, who founded Société Salines de Sal in 1919 and set up the transport system that can still be observed there, by cable car and rails. In the heydays of exploration, salt was sent to the entire African coast, to Brazil, England and the United States.

When you enter you dive into a unique, unusual landscape, in which the color of the soil varies between the turquoise blue of the waters, the green-red of the vegetation, the brown of the walls, and the white and pink of the salt. . Stunning images that are recorded in the visitor's memory. Today the Salinas de Pedra Lume are owned by the Italian Society Turinvest Holding, which dedicates them to tourist exploration, serving for example a privileged place for a refreshing rest and a salt massage. Good opportunity to gain new breath and continue traveling.

The village of Santa Maria, in the extreme south of the island and with very easy access from the airport, is the tourist area par excellence, benefiting from the amenities provided by an extensive golden sand of four kilometers, which extend for many others on the west coast , and wonderful turquoise, warm and transparent waters. Here are the most important hotel structures in Cape Verde, which have served as a business card for the tourist expansion effort that the country has been developing. Attractive throughout the year, Santa Maria hotels, increasingly numerous and of quality, have transformed Sal into a popular tourist destination all over the world, where tourists can find various facilities, whether in terms of communications, served by generation, both in terms of access to their bank accounts, with facilities for withdrawing money, or in terms of excellent mobility, as evidenced by the frequency of air connections, either to the various islands of the archipelago, operated by a company from the Canary Islands, or to numerous countries abroad.

It is on the island of Sal that, alongside Boa Vista, the largest investments in tourist real estate are launched, among those that are projected for the country in the coming years, from Santa Maria to Murdeira and Monte Leão, on the west coast, and, on the east coast, from Santa Maria to Pedra Lume.

In addition to the natural beauty and good accommodation conditions, the Santa Maria area also offers an attractive invitation to enthusiasts of the most varied water sports. The waters and winds mobilize windsurfers and kitesurfers, in such a way that international level competitions are held here. The purity of the waters and the fact that they are pollution-free zones guarantee moments of intense pleasure and enthusiasm for those who practice sport fishing, and it is possible to purchase different packages at Santa Maria agencies, and diving, an activity in which it is even possible attend classes and complete courses locally.

Handicrafts flourish in the heart of Vila de Santa Maria, where local artists can let their imagination run free by creating artistic pieces from simple stones, wood, corals or shells, or through painting and tapestry. However, the vast majority of the handicrafts for sale on the island are of continental origin, suggesting special attention turned to an increase in national production.

Lovers of 4x4 also have suitable territory here in Sal to explore the sandy terrain of the island, looking for picturesque little spots in an arid landscape, full of contrasting undulations. If Lhana is the original name of the island because it is flat, then these discoveries make one understand that this baptism does not necessarily correspond to the truth.

On these expeditions in the north-east of the island, the traveller, after passing Palmeira, the fishing port of Sal, and Regona, an inlet of particular beauty, will come across a unique natural phenomenon in the archipelago, known as Buracona. It is a large chasm which goes down through the rocks, the bottom of which can only be seen at midday, when the sun’s rays have the right angle. Apart from fulfilling a curiosity which arises from the origins of this phenomenon, the visitor can also appreciate how pure and pollution-free the waters of this island are.

Near Buracona there are natural rock caves filled by the tides and breakers, providing an excellent opportunity for a safe dive in the inviting transparent waters.

A trip around the island should also include a stop at Espargos, near the airport, to see its main urban area, guarded by the interesting Morro do Coral, a knoll where one of the large dishes of the Atlantic radar system of air traffic control can be found. Espargos, with its growing urban area, reflects the economic development of this island, which for many decades had the only international airport in the country. It was built by the Italians in the forties, during World War II, and finished by the Portuguese. The airport, named Amílcar Cabral, was also one of the best runways of the region, strategically situated between Europe and Africa on one side, and the Americas on the other. Nowadays it is one of the only airports of the region with category 1 maximum safety requirements.

Sal is an island whose inhabitants are geared towards tourism. The nights are captivating and animated, especially at the weekend. It is possible to share enjoyable, relaxed tasty dinners in restaurants in Santa Maria, Murdeira, Espargos or in Palmeira. During the meals, the traveller can feel immersed in the warmth of the Cape Verde atmosphere; the bands play the traditional songs of the country and the local gastronomy is sometimes accompanied by the murmuring of the waves.

Also the nocturnal festivity is omnipresent in the island of Sal. In the town of Santa Maria, for example, we can find bars and discos open every night where interaction with local inhabitants or with tourists of various nationalities is a reality, allowing us to share our experiences on the morabeza islands.

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