Photo Credit: Frances Linzee Gordon Lonely Planet Photographer
© Copyright Lonely Planet Images 2011

Cape Verde is a cool set of Islands off the west coast of Africa. The people are a gorgeous mix of African and European ethnicity.The islands look like the garden of eden. It’s time to get to Cape Verde!! Although the official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese, what you hear on the streets is often a Creole mixture of Portuguese and West African tribal languages.   São Vicente is the main island and then there are eight other inhabited islands of Cape Verde. The country’s climate, with about 360 days of sun a year, and its relatively undiscovered beaches are attracting international hotel chains, as well as middle-class Europeans looking for inexpensive winter homes. On many of Cape Verde’s virgin beaches, and in the empty, dry hills behind them, signs of development range from the faint outlines of streets bulldozed into the sand to the gray concrete foundations of imposing new hotels and residential villas.   In Santa Maria, on the island of Sal, where tourism was once confined to a few blocks within the center of town, ribbons of new asphalt stretch for miles into the flat, desert-like terrain. Convoys of construction vehicles noisily move about the area, leaving new residential communities in their wake.   Much of what is happening on Sal and São Vicente resembles the mid-20th-century development of Las Vegas. But while the expansion of Vegas into the desert of southern Nevada succeeded because of the casinos, Cape Verde development will succeed not because of gaming but because of the wide, blue backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. The price of water-view land here is much lower than in southern Europe and the Caribbean. For thousands of sun-starved northern Europeans, and for more and more Americans priced out of Hawaii or California, the lure of distant Cape Verde is becoming difficult to resist.   The Cape Verde government is pushing hard for overseas investment, making it easy for foreigners to purchase land for hotels or residential use, or to establish light manufacturing firms in duty-free zones — a result of the 2000 African Growth and Opportunity Act, U.S. legislation designed to promote a market-based economy in sub-Saharan Africa. While the infrastructure on the islands is not yet ready for mass tourism, this attempt at economic revival is already visible in the increased number of business and leisure visitors to the islands. At Baia das Gatas, where the Atlantic meets the desert a few minutes from town, a 5-star resort and PGA golf course, part of the well-known Nikki Beach brand, are under development. Nearby, the concrete shells of vacation homes protrude from the dry, rugged hillsides overlooking the sea. In Mindelo an upscale residential development called Fortim is already sold out, and across the island São Pedro Development is constructing a new townhouse community for more than 6,000 residents.   The land on São Vicente, as on the other islands, is stunning but raw.  Island transportation, gas stations, shops, supermarkets and medical facilities are third world. So go there with the heart of an adventurer. Entry Requirements A passport, valid for a minimum of six months, and a visa are necessary for travel to Cape Verde. Although visas can be obtained upon arrival at one of Cape Verde’s international airports, it is best to secure the documentation from a Cape Verde embassy or consulate prior to arrival in the country. Portuguese is the official language; English is spoken by many in the business community.   More Information Consulate General of Cape Verde 607 Boylston St., 4th floor Boston, MA 02116 tel 617 353 0014