Today The Octopus takes you cruising in Cape Verde, an archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean off the African west coast. It is not only a crucial passage for sailors crossing from the Mediterranean Sea to the Caribbeans, but with its diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and a warm embrace of the trade winds, Cape Verde also beckons sailors to explore its hidden gems.
From the captivating coastal cities of Mindelo and Sal to the tranquil bays of Maio and Brava, this article unveils the enchanting world of Cape Verde’s top anchorages, where every stopover offers a unique blend of relaxation, adventure and utility in the embrace of the open sea.
Without further ado, let’s embark on a cruising journey to Cape Verde’s best anchorages starting by answering a few important questions about the archipelago!
When to sail to Cape Verde ?
On the one hand, when cruising in Cape Verde, it’s crucial to take weather conditions into consideration, particularly during the period from November to July. This timeframe marks the primary sailing season, aligning with more favorable winds. In this respect, The Octopus reminds you that once you are there you can always check the weather forecast up to 72 hours in advance using the Navily App (with Premium), staying ahead of bad weather to make the most of your cruise!
Why should you go cruising in Cape Verde
1- Strategic waypoint to the Caribbean Islands
The archipelago’s strategic location along the route from Europe to the Caribbean renders it an invaluable midway point. For instance, Palmeira and Mindelo anchorages enable you to rejuvenate, refuel, and replenish your provisions before embarking on the more extensive ocean crossing.
Moreover, Cape Verde’s proximity to the Atlantic crossing toward the Caribbean is advantageous due to the prevailing trade winds and currents, offering ideal conditions for sailors undertaking the transatlantic passage. For added reassurance, Cape Verde boasts facilities that provide mechanical and technical assistance, ensuring your vessel is in optimal condition for the forthcoming transatlantic voyage.
2- An unexpected sailing paradise !
On the other hand, what may come as a pleasant surprise is that Cape Verde extends beyond being a mere gateway point. It presents a rich tapestry of captivating destinations that beg exploration. Delve into the local culture and traditions for an immersive experience, discovering the warm hospitality and vibrant arts that define the islands of São Nicolau and São Vicent.
The archipelago’s scenic beauty is equally captivating, with each island boasting unique landscapes ranging from lush valleys to rugged mountains from Santo Antao Island to Bravo. Cultural immersion and the allure of picturesque vistas intertwine to paint the enticing picture of Cape Verde.
Cruising Cape Verde: the best anchorages
📍Palmeira : your ideal waypoint to the Atlantic and beyond
The first captivating stopover of our Cape Verde cruising guide is on Sal Island. Precisely, the coastal city of Palmeira, a distinguished anchorage rated a perfect 5 stars on Navily. It is almost a mandatory stop considering its proximity to the international airport and many facilities to meet your needs in terms of fuel and provisions. The bay’s shallow sandbanks will allow you to drop anchor with ease, sheltered from wind and swell coming from the northwest to the southeast by the east.
In summary: perfect conditions to enjoy your stay at the anchorage!
Sal Island’s enchantment extends beyond favorable mooring conditions. Immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of Palmeira on a lively Sunday evening, where you can hear traditional music inviting you to join the village’s communal barbecue.
A mini-bus expedition will allow you to venture into the surroundings, exploring Aluguer, Espargos, and Santa Maria, each corner pulsating with its unique charm. There, you can take a well deserved break on Sal Island’s pristine beaches embracing peaceful crystalline waters.
Finally, when you are back on your vessel, watch an enchanting sunset painted in pink and violet, a perfect ending to your cruise at this beautiful stopover. Indeed, Palmeira has proven itself as one of the best anchorages when cruising in Cape Verde.
📍Vila Sal Rei : tranquil oasis
Once you’ve taken advantage of the amenities in Palmeira, the tentacles of The Octopus lead you to another 5-star rated anchorage, this time on the island of Sal Rei. The island is a paradisiac gateway featuring extensive sand dunes, pristine beaches, and desert-like landscapes.
The Octopus is convinced that you will be enchanted by the setting, so all that is left to do is to drop anchor in the sandy beds of Vila Sal Rei bay. It is spacious and located between the northeast coast of Boa Vista Island and the adjacent island of Sal Rei. On the side of Sal Rei, you’ll benefit from the bay’s excellent protection from wind and swell from the north to the south by the east.
Upon your arrival at the anchorage, you can effortlessly moor your vessel with the assistance of Zelito Zelas (you can reach him at +2385835273). Furthermore, he can also provide transportation in his pickup truck for you to explore the scenic coastline. You can visit the Viana Desert, admire the dunes, and bask on the breathtaking Santa Monica Beach. You can even have the opportunity to swim with lemon sharks, which pose no threat to humans whatsoever.
You can also go on wonderful hikes to explore two prominent landmarks in the area: the Ponta da Escuma Lighthouse and Forte Duque de Bragança. While trekking through the rugged terrain, encompassed by saltbushes and rose tamarisks, you will eventually arrive at the fortress. Here, expansive views of the coastline and the open sea will unveil themselves before your eyes, serving as a reminder of the immense expanse of the ocean.
Indeed, Vila Sal Rei anchorage unveils Cape Verde as a captivating island of coastal beauty.
📍Escapade on Baía do Tarrafal
Our next stop on the list is situated on the western side of the archipelago, specifically on São Nicolau Island. It boasts a captivating landscape of rugged mountains, verdant valleys, and otherworldly rock formations. As you approach Tarrafal Bay, you’ll observe volcanic-looking igneous rocks in various shades of browns, reds, and oranges, interspersed with sparse vegetation.
Here, Tarrafal Bay offers a sheltered anchorage and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local way of life.
You can easily drop anchor in the anchorage’s shallow sandbanks. Alternatively, you can also make use of one of the available mooring buoys or pre-book them through Thomas (contact him at email@example.com). Furthermore, the anchorage provides excellent protection from the northeasterly wind.
Once securely anchored, along the coastline, you will find charming small restaurants that offer an authentic culinary experience.
For a unique adventure, embark on a picturesque journey to the town aboard a local fisherman’s boat, a perfect opportunity to spot sea turtles! On land, you can rent vehicles to explore the island’s lush vegetation, featuring palm trees, various species of cacti, and agave plants. An adventurer’s dream come true!
Lastly, the sunsets at Tarrafal are an unmissable spectacle. As the sun descends below the horizon, the rocks and waves are bathed in warm hues of orange, pink, and purple. The fading light creates a serene atmosphere and the perfect backdrop to end an adventurous day!
📍The stopover to meet all your needs before embarking on a long sailing journey - Mindelo
Should you find yourself “en route” to the Caribbean archipelago, a stopover at the charming Mindelo on São Vicente Island is a must. Mindelo’s harbor presents one of the best anchorages on this island, offering excellent facilities that cater to your requirements to prepare for a long sailing journey.
As you approach the bay of Mindelo you will notice right away that the island is characterized by its striking mountainous rock formations that rise dramatically from the sea, reminiscent of its volcanic eruption history.
In this majestic setting, you’ll take advantage of the bay’s excellent anchoring conditions and shelter from easterly winds prevailing from the north to the south.
After securing your anchor properly, The Octopus suggests you go on a half-day hiking journey to the highest point on São Vicente – Monte Verde. The paths will take you through a variety of terrain, from arid succulents to lush areas where you might encounter the endemic species Cape Verde warbler and the Cape Verde swift. When you get to the top a breathtaking panoramic view will unfold, the island’s landscape intertwined with the Atlantic ocean.
Finally, Mindelo serves as an ideal starting point for broader exploration within the archipelago. For example, delve into the rhythm of island hopping by embarking on a sailing journey to Santo Antao, unraveling the unique charm of each distinct locale within this captivating chain of islands.
📍Tarrafal - Santa Antão’s hidden gem
In his island-hopping-frenzy, The Octopus has another anchorage he’d recommend stopping by: Tarrafal on Santo Antao Island. It stands out from the rest of the archipelago with its remarkably diverse terrain. The island is known for its cascading waterfalls offering a stark contrast to the arid landscapes.
As you sail towards the bay of Tarrafal, you will be surrounded by ancient volcanic formations, displaying an array of earthy tones, from deep browns to fiery reds.
Lush green vegetation clings to the rocky slopes, offering a vibrant contrast against the volcanic backdrop. Looking inland, you see the charming village that surrounds the bay. Although anchoring tends to be complicated due to strong winds, Tarrafal is absolutely worth visiting ! ( Listen to your trusty guide – The Octopus !).
The one thing that should be on your list is hiking on the island, revealing trails that meander through incredibly beautiful terraced crops, and views that steal the breath away.
Adventurers can embark on a mission to discover the awe-inspiring Tarrafal waterfall, it only takes around 2 hours from the anchorage. Finally, after this long day of sailing and exploring you can refresh and relax along the coast in the quaint town of Ponta do Sol. It is a small port offering an enticing array of local delicacies in a typical atmosphere, a perfect place to end our itinerary in Cape Verde style!
📍Furna : a discovered treasure on Brava Island
The Octopus has kept a hidden treasure for last, tucked away on the smallest inhabited island in the archipelago – Brava Island, renowned for its picturesque beauty and serene ambiance. There, you’ll find the quaint and tranquil port of Furna, an an ideal spot to drop anchor and explore this delightful island. Upon your arrival, the bay will welcome you with its rugged coastline and crystal-clear waters, complemented by the charming, colourful houses and narrow winding streets of the village, creating a captivating backdrop.
Additionally, the bay’s strategic location offers superb protection from the swell and the prevailing Northeast Trade Wind, which comes from the west to the northeast. It’s advisable to be prepared with approximately 40 meters of chain due to reports from the Navily community about the seabed’s depth.
To fully immerse yourself in this peaceful oasis, consider embarking on a trek to the small town of Fajã de Água. In its vicinity, you’ll encounter coastal formations shaped by volcanic activity and erosion that are sure to leave you in awe. Ash-colored rocks meet the Atlantic Ocean to form a natural pool.
Additionally, the bay’s strategic location offers superb protection from the swell and the prevailing Northeast Trade Wind, which comes from the west to the northeast. It’s advisable to be prepared with approximately 40 meters of chain due to reports from the Navily community about the seabed’s depth. To fully immerse yourself in this peaceful oasis, consider embarking on a trek to the small town of Fajã de Água. In its vicinity, you’ll encounter coastal formations shaped by volcanic activity and erosion that are sure to leave you in awe. Ash-colored rocks meet the Atlantic Ocean to form a natural pool.
This was the last stop of The Octopus’ tour of the best anchorages in the Cape Verde archipelago unfortunately… The Octopus hopes you enjoyed this tour and that it will inspire you while cruising Cape Verde. If you were impressed by the irresistible combination of unspoiled natural beauty, excellent sailing conditions, and a captivating cultural heritage then you will be happy to continue cruising west to the best anchorages on the Caribbean archipelago.
Fair winds Captain!