Visiting Cape Verde with kids – 13 things to know
Cape Verde has been on my wishlist for a few years now – the islands off the coast of Senegal are still much further under the radar than the Canaries to the north but getting more and more popular with tourists. But how about Cape Verde with kids?
I didn’t know anyone who’d been before we’d booked, but I was hooked by the idea of guaranteed sun, some unusual places to explore and a beach holiday that’s still a little bit different.
And after a week on Sal, it certainly didn’t let us down. I have more posts on our hotel (Melia Dunas resort), on Sal itself and plenty of reasons to tempt you to follow in our foosteps (I hope!) – but to start off, if you’re thinking of visiting Cape Verde with kids, here are my top things to know.
1. They love kids
If you’re umming and aahing because you’re not sure how child-friendly Cape Verde is, worry no more. Kids are welcome everywhere and are usually the centre of attention too – while we found everyone to be very friendly, this is one of the most family-friendly destinations I’ve been to.
2. But check the facilities
If you’re outside a resort, don’t expect baby change tables or that everywhere will have high chairs… in some places, you won’t even get pavement. If you want a car seat for a taxi, it’s best to take your own (although our tour guide did produce one for our island day out) and each driver seems to work to their own speed limit.
3. Food is easy
Both in the towns and in the resorts, even my fussy mini traveller was easy to feed – fresh fish and chips, pizza, pasta were all staples, along with plenty of other child-friendly options. Including ice-cream, naturally.
4. But take baby products
There are supermarkets – Santa Maria on Sal, near most of the hotels, had a couple of mini markets – but this is one place I’d advise taking anything specific you need, especially formula, wipes, baby food and nappies. Even our impressive resort had limited options in its shop, and if you’re planning to lounge by the pool most days, you won’t want to venture out hunting for supplies if you can avoid it.
5. Don’t drink the water
Tap water isn’t safe to drink, so stick to bottled – the resorts will use that for ice too.
6. Watch the sun
With a breeze blowing most days, it’s easy to forget quite how hot the sun is – but it’s a tropical island off Africa, so that means strong. Even with factor 50+ on (my trusty Ultrasun) and staying out of the sun during the hottest hours, I still got a few pink stripes. None for Minnie thankfully but there was some impressive sunburn on other adults by the pool. Pack plenty of suntan lotion too.
7. But wrap up in the evening
Once the sun went down, and at times in the early morning, the breeze also meant little ones can get chilly. It’s worth packing cardigans or light hoodies.
8. Watch the waves
Those winds can mean impressive waves – depending which island you’re on, there’s probably nothing much between you and the Caribbean islands except miles of Atlantic. It also means strong waves so find out which of the local beaches are calmer coves, especially outside the summer months when the winds drop. Our resort had a breakwater with a calmer lagoon where older kids swam but the weather in early April was still a bit rough for a four-year-old.
9. Golden sands optional
Only a few islands have golden beaches, including Boa Vista and Sal which get sand blown from the Sahara and the highest number of tourists. The others will have black volcanic beaches.
10. Hit the pool
Don’t expect pools to be heated except in winter (and not always then) – by April that lovely sunshine meant that even unheated water warmed up enough for us to swim almost every day, and shallower baby and splash pools were a few degrees warmer. Just keep a snuggly towel to hand on the lounger.
11. Expect to lounge
Each of the islands has its attractions, and we had a full day out plus a couple of mornings exploring. But this is somewhere you go to relax, not to spend every day discovering something new. With a week away, it was the perfect balance of keeping everyone interested and getting a chance to kick back.
12. No stress
It’s the unofficial motto of the islands – which is part of what makes them the perfect place for a laid-back escape with kids, without worrying about… well… anything really. It does mean that any problems (an unexpected power cut one day for us) will need some prompting before promises to sort them turn into action. And be prepared for long queues at the small airports. Fortunately you’ll be nicely relaxed by then!
13. Safe in the sun
Although I hesitate to say anywhere is 100% safe, this has to be close. Crime rates are low, and while it always pays to be sensible, I never felt remotely threatened, even wandering away from the main tourist areas – and that’s a huge plus for a family holiday for me.
Cape Verde with kids? I’m already wondering which island to go to next…
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