The Cape Verde Islands are a collection of relaxed, tropical islands in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of north-western Africa. With a mix of Portuguese and African culture, warm weather, white sandy beaches and plenty of wind the Cape Verde Islands are a windsurfing haven. But what are the best Cape Verde windsurf spots?
Cape Verde is one of the world’s top windsurfing destinations. The same brisk trade winds that have carried generations of explorers all the way across the Atlantic create ideal conditions for intermediate and advanced windsurfers, with both flat water and wave sailing easy to find.
Beginners can take advantage of smooth lagoon sailing. And everyone will love the stunning scenery and warm welcome.
Cape Verde is a collection of ten islands, of which Sal takes the majority of the tourist traffic. Boa Vista and Sao Vicente also attract some visitors. All three have some excellent windsurfing spots and schools, and while you could probably surf just about anywhere on the islands, these three islands host most of those who travel to Cape Verde in search of wind and waves.
From November to June, conditions are near-perfect and still days are rare. Winds are strong away from the shallow bays, so unless you are an expert, choose your spot carefully. Some of the most popular are also the most challenging, with big waves and no shore protection. If you are able to handle those conditions, then get on your board as you’re in for a treat.
Santa Maria is the most popular area for windsurfers on Cape Verde, and has perfect conditions for those wanting to learn or improve their skills. A sandy bay around 3 km long, Santa Maria offers largely calm waters that are protected from the strongest of the Cape Verde winds.
Beginners here on windsurfing holidays will find a reassuring on-shore wind at one end of the bay, the more advanced can venture into the off-shore wind at the other end. Away from the water, Santa Maria is a friendly resort which charms its visitors with its colourful houses, cobbled streets, beachside restaurants and lively bars. An ideal location to kick off our best Cape Verde windsurf spots!
Ponta Preta is something of a legendary destination for windsurfers. It is not a place for beginners, but for people seeking the top windsurfing spots in Cape Verde it offers the opportunity to surf some of the best waves in the world.
A strong off-shore wind creates waves of up to five metres high, breaking around 50 m off the beach. There are no lifeguards: this is not a place to learn wave sailing for the first time. If you’re not yet up to standard, enjoy watching from the gloriously empty beach.
Ponta Leme’s waves are a little easier to manage for intermediates. It is a good place to try wave sailing for the first time, with sideshore winds and waves up to two metres high. Some nice, long, easy to ride waves can often by found in Ponta Leme when the conditions are right. There is rescue cover if needed.
Sal Rei is the capital and main tourist area of Boa Vista. It offers easy windsurfing in a protected spot, which is ideal for beginners. A small island lying a little offshore protects the waters of Sal Rei from the strong winds that create waves off most of the island.
The water is shallow too, just one or two metres deep in many places making Sal Rei a safe place for both children and adults to learn to windsurf. Winds are offshore.
Those seeking something a little more challenging can head to the Funana area which lies a little to the north of the main bay. There, you will find waves of between two and four metres.
To the south of Sal Rei, the area around the Iberostar resort offers some great surfing for intermediate and advanced windsurfers. There are stronger winds, as it is less protected, but as they are onshore and the bay curves around, surfing is still safe. It is a good place for those looking to test themselves or to improve their skills.
Sal Rei itself has a slightly ramshackle, if charming, feel. The main village is set back a little from the beach, with most tourists staying in modern beachfront hotels. It’s an easygoing kind of place, with little to do away from the beach. But why would you want to leave the beach, anyway?
Sal Rei has something for everyone and a no-brainer on our list of the best Cape Verde windsurf spots.
Sao Vicente is the cultural hub of the Cape Verde islands, home to many local musicians, artists and writers. It is a colourful, welcoming place that is largely untouched by tourism…. except for those looking to windsurf.
The beaches aren’t as pretty as those of Boa Vista or Sal, but no matter: those who visit do so for the water and waves, not the sand. Sao Pedro is the most popular windsurfing spot on Sao Vicente.
Winds are consistent and strong, and have given Sao Pedro an international reputation. In particular, it is known for its speed windsurfing, and has hosted international competitions in the past.
It is not suitable for beginners, with offshore winds that blow up to ten knots higher than elsewhere on the island due to a funnel effect. There is no rescue cover, and indeed, little infrastructure of any kind. Sao Pedro is a place for those in the know who can handle a board with confidence.
Windsurfing (and its sister sports of surfing and kitesurfing) can be practised pretty much anywhere there is a beach on the Cape Verde islands. Windsurfing schools will often take their clients out in 4x4s to reach the more remote beaches.
Cape Verde is also home to a community of windsurfing expats, many of whom will have their own transport or are able to talk their way, with their boards, onto the local buses. Make friends in the right places in Cape Verde and you could find yourself windsurfing off a near-empty, picture-postcard beach – with nothing to interrupt you but the waves and the call of the birds. Tempted?
What do you think? Do you agree with our list of the best Cape Verde windsurf spots? Be sure to check out our windsurfing discounts as you could save a fortune on your next holiday.