Sal – the tourist island 



Sal (“salt” — from the mines at Pedra de Lume) belongs to the northern group of islands, called Barlavento. The island is composed by a single administrative division, the Sal municipality. The island is home to Amílcar Cabral International Airport, the main airport of Cape Verde.



The island is 30 km long by 12 km wide. It is one of the three sandy eastern islands (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) of the archipelago, with white sandy beaches and fairly flat. The highest elevation of 406 m is at Monte Grande. Serra Negra has a height of 92 m.



Sal Island has on average 350 days of sunshine a year. Winds mainly blow from the northeast. However,some days do also have cloud, but it tends to be broken and seldom brings rain. The ‘rainy season’ is from july to mid-October, although rainfall is still low.


How to get to Sal? 

Flying to Cape Verde isn’t always expensive. In low season you can fly from Brussels to the island Sal for €99 – €150 one way ( 

Several German airports have connections to Sal ( 

TACV organises direct flights to Sal from Amsterdam – Paris – Lisbon – Boston. 

TACV- flights can’t be booked on the internet yet.


Don’t hesitate to ask for more information about the time schedules and (local!) prices:


Where to stay? 


Meliã Tortuga Beach resort – Ponta Preta


What kind of hotel or guesthouse are you looking for?  Or would you prefer to rent an apartment?  Let us know!



Especially for fans of water sports, Sal is the place to be.

You can dive with the Scuba team. In Santa Maria, caves, steep or overhanging cliffs and ship wrecks are inhabited by tropical and Atlantic animals. Nurse and lemon sharks, doctor fish, morays, groupers, manta rays and other species of local fauna thrive in a majestic volcanic decor with numerous caves, clad in yellow-orange calcium corals. Diving is possible year round. The best, most optimal season runs from April to October. Take into account that a minimum of skill is required to dive in the Atlantic Ocean. The club offers courses, gear (CRESSI SUB) and several diving formulas. Their services are valuable, safe and are multilingual.


Surfers will also find all they want here. A strong trade-wind, across the whole coastline, with an average speed between 15 and 2 knots, waves that break perfectly and a pleasant water temperature during the whole year, these are the qualities that make the bay of Santa Maria seen by experts as one of the 5 best destinations worldwide for surfing, wind surfing and kite surfing. These sports are done the whole year round. it is recommended for beginners to get started with this sport in the summer, The most fanatic sportsmen on the other hand can go all out from November to end of March, when the wind is the strongest. At the surfclub in Santa Maria you can take training courses or rent equipment. Both beginners and advanced surfers are welcomed in several languages.


Ask for more information:


Places to visit

The extensive white sanded beaches characterise the island of Sal. This rapidly developing island offers a varied range of hotels. 18 km south of the airport, the town and tourist resort of Santa Maria offers 8 km of white sanded beach and crystal clear waters. Excellent conditions for many water sports. Windsurfing, fishing and diving are available.


An abundance of bars and restaurants playing live Cape Verdian music. The town of Espargos is located adjacent to the international airport and is the administrative centre of the island, offering shops, bars and restaurants.


The island of Sal, the flattest island of the archipelago, takes it’s name from the now inactive salt mines. Worth a visit is the half natural, half man made salt pond of Pedro Lume.


Palmeira, located on the west coast of Sal is the island’s main port, used for fishing activity and for unloading imported products. Tourism on the island is continuing to expand. Development projects are taking place in an attempt to open up tourism on the other beaches of the island of Sal.


Sal is not the place for the mountain walker or those who enjoy verdant scenery. Car, jeep and beach buggy hire is available. Where transfers are not included to your accommodation, an abundance of taxis frequent the airport.



In Santa Maria Cape Verdean, but also many European restaurants can be found.  You can almost eat everything, from 200 CVE catchupa to lobster.  


The main Cape Verdean dishes are grilled fish or shellfish with vegetables and chickpeas. 


(We will inform you soon about the restaurants in Sal)



There are numerous night bars and clubs in Santa Maria. Live music is a key attraction.

A rendition of the typically Cape Verdean ‘Morna’ is a treat not to be missed. 

Due to the development of the tourism industry and the growth in the property market, there are new venues opening up regularly. The nightlife can be very good in Sal. 


Hospitals and health centers

These are not currently equipped or staffed to European standards. But a new medical centre at Murdeira Villa on Sal has opened with European doctors.

It provides treatment for normal holiday ailments or sudden attacks. It is open weekday mornings only.

The main hospital on Sal at Espargos, which also has a pharmacy, is primitive. But the President of Cape Verde has offerred his mansion near the airport to be converted by Swedish doctors into a modern hospital.

There is also an air ambulance at Sal Airport operated by Cape Verde Express, which can whisk you to the Canaries or Lisbon in a real emergency. None of these services are free to expatriates so please take out good health cover.



The island was discovered on December 3, 1460 and named Llana until salt deposits were found. Sal is the geologically oldest island in Cape Verde, formed 50 million years ago during the eruption of a volcano which is now inactive.



Sal’s main town, Cidade dos Espargos, is home to one of the nation’s international airports and has around 20,000 inhabitants. Its population grew around salt collection and later shifted to fishing, but is now based on tourism (amounting to 50% of the archipelago’s tourism) at the beach resort of Santa Maria:




Its airport, Amilcar Cabral International Airport, was used as a refuelling base by South African Airways on its Johannesburg to London routes. This was necessitated by the refusal of Black African states to the North to grant overflying permission and direct routing to and from Europe. Later, flights to and from New York and Atlanta also refuelled there, and the island was a crew-change station. SAA established the long runways needed by the fully fueled Boeing 707s on their take-offs in the high temperatures. On July 1, 2006, SAA operated its final flight to Sal due to the ending of its flights to Atlanta.


Saline marshes can be found in the Pedra de Lume crater and north of Santa Maria:




The major roads on the island are:

  • Santa Maria – Espargos Road (paved)

  • Palmeira – Espargos Road (paved)

  • Pedra de Lume – Espargos Road (paved)

  • Espargos – Reguinho Fiúra Road (unpaved)



There are six inhabited centers:


Pedra de Lume, on the eastern coast, is the most ancient, and the home of the first salt workers. Today it is only a small village with few inhabitants.


Palmeira is a fishing village, built around a port situated on the opposite coast of the island. It is also a small village but is growing. Palmeira is also home to the island of Sal’s port.


Espargos (pop: 20,173 in 2010) for the town, 1,000 including Hortelã and Preguiça) is the main urban center and is situated between Pedra de Lume and Palmeira. It was formed around the international airport named after Amilcar Cabral (IATA airport code SID) located in the heart of the island.Is also the Capital of the Island.


Terra Boa is the only place on the island where agriculture can be found on a large scale, as the island is very dry, mainly because it has no mountains to induce rainfall. This place is situated north of Espargos, around 5km.


Murdeira is a tourist village resort, which is growing in population.


Santa Maria (pop: 15,000 (2010),which was a former salt working village, is now the tourism center of the island, their you can find one of the most beauiful beaches of Cape Verd and Duns. Santa Maria is the main atraction and is growing fast.


Other inhabited settlements are:

Feijoal, 1 km west of Pedra de Lume.

Fontona, south of Palmeira

Reguinho Fiúra, a remote village near a lighthouse and overlooking Ponta Norte, the island’s northernmost point.



  • Josh Angulo – professional windsurfer

  • Ildo Lobo – musician