"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by Dogma which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become."
- Steve Jobs

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tips for visiting Sal Island & Santa Maria, Cape Verde

Our first trip to Cape Verde Islands and we chose Sal island.  We stayed at the Oasis Atlantico Salinas Sea hotel for a week.  You have to walk across a dirt road to get to the beach from the hotel, and camped on this road are some locals with their advertising boards for various trips around the island.  The Cape Verde motto is "no stress" but that's exactly what most of the locals are - stress.  We got fed up of constant cries of "hello hello, lovely couple, you come see my shop/you book an island trip/come to the market" etc etc every time we left the hotel - sometimes even if it was only 15 mins since we last passed them and said "no thanks" they still ask you again.  I hate having to be rude or brutal to people but you really have to just say "no thank you not interested" and walk away.  "Where are you from, let me shake your hand, what is your name" - all attempts at friendly chat and I fell for it once but was hit with a hard sell again as soon as I engaged them. 

There is a tourist booth called "Sal Mine" in the town that is dead easy to spot and there is a British lady there and a foreign guy (her husband?) who can book trips for you and give you directions.  I used them as I didn't trust the fading sandwich boards scattered around with some random guy who would then take your money.  I wanted a trip on the OdisseĆ© IV Catamaran and had seen sandwich boards around town, but the Sal Mine lady said that they had stopped sailing until January - so why other people were advertising it I don't know.

It was the same in town.  We purposefully bought from shops that did NOT hassle us, and let us browse in peace.  To the right of the bar in town called "Pub Calerma" there is a lovely art gallery called "Protect Cabo Verde" and the guy who runs that is lovely - he does all his own paintings which are superb, and he is friendly but does not hassle you, he did us a great deal as we bought 3 paintings from him. 

Also in town there is a small undercover market, which I went in to but every stall was "hard sell hard sell, follow you around, make you look at things and never leave you alone".  I understand how these people want to make a living but they don't realise how off-putting the hard sell is to many of the visitors. 

The beach is fantastic - hire a jetski for 30 minutes it's brilliant fun.  Splashing in the waves on a windy day is a superb workout and your skin feels great after an hours' bashing with salty water.  There are dogs on the beach but most of them have collars on and leave you alone, even ignoring you when you call them over to pet them.  Not many locals trying to sell you stuff as you sunbathe, I think the hotels have warned them off from doing this as it would piss people off.

Take some Euros with you but I would get mostly Escudos (CVE) as the island has it's own exchange rate of 100 CVE to 1 Euro, and by paying in Euros you will lose a little bit of money.

Sal island is a kitesurf and windsurf mecca, I definitely want to go back and do a beginner's kiting course!

You can read all my other reviews of restaurants and our hotel on my TripAdvisor page here.