Things to do in Santa Maria, Cape Verde

Our most recommended things to do in Santa Maria, Cape Verde

Santa Maria: Guided Snorkeling Shipwreck and Reef Tour

1. Santa Maria: Guided Snorkeling Shipwreck and Reef Tour

Experience the beautiful underwater world of Sal on this guided snorkeling tour in Santa Maria. Explore the reefs around the Bolama Wreck, and spot aquatic life around Dunas Bikini and Farol with a guide who knows the area well. Keep an eye out for creatures like tropical fish, rays, turtles, and moray eels. Meet the guides at the dive center, be fitted with snorkeling equipment, and fill out all of the necessary paperwork before setting out on tour. Receive a safety and rules briefing and learn some basic snorkeling knowledge and some instruction on how to use the equipment. Be dropped off in the water off the reef by boat, and begin exploring underwater. Immerse yourself in a new and exciting underwater world, and try to spot some of the area's many marine species. Look for fish, eels, rays, and turtles, while exploring the different reefs on this approximately two-hour tour. Discover three different snorkeling sites available depending on the sea conditions, and the best sites depending on weather and conditions will be chosen by the guide. Marvel at Bolama, a shallow shipwreck turned reef, where many marine species make their homes. Explore Dunas, a series of shallow reefs interlaced with sand dunes ideal as a refuge for many fish species and turtles, or Bikini further to the north, a shallow reef where you can see corals, invertebrates such as morays and lobsters, and shallow areas that work as fish nurseries. Return to the dive center following the tour and enjoy the rest of your day.

Sal: 6-Hour Experience Tour with a Local Certified Guide

2. Sal: 6-Hour Experience Tour with a Local Certified Guide

After being picked up from your accommodation, make your way to Santa Maria. Once there, get to know the history of this city, which has transformed from the extraction of its salt to the biggest tourist city in Cape Verde. Next, make your way to Kite Beach, which is one of the best places in the world to practice kite surfing (from October to April) and is usually chosen to hold the world kite surfing championships.  Then visit Porto Palmeira, which is a simple place where people take their sustenance from fishing and working in the port. See the arrival of the crafts, as well as all the activity around the sale of fish. Take a walk among the colorful colonial houses and check out the beautiful street art. Next up, go to Pedra de Lume Beach, Pedra de Lume, and Ilha do Sal.  There, visit the first village on Sal island, which was founded in 1804, to learn about the history and development of the local economy based on the export of salt. Continue to Miragem, where you will see the effects of Fata Morgana water illusions in the desert. Travel then to Buracona, where you will see the Blue Eye, one of the 7 wonders of the island. Swim in its natural pool if the conditions are ideal for bathing. Following the pool, explore the Pedra Lume Salt Crater, where you will learn all about the nourishing benefits this salt center has for the locals. Make a stop to experience floating in this thermal water which is inside an inactive volcanic caldera. Discover Shark Bay, where you will have the experience to see lemon sharks in their natural environment up close. Travel to the village of Murdeira that lies in a natural reserve in the bay. Finally, visit Espargos, the economic center of the city.

From Santa Maria: Two-Hour 4WD Buggy Desert Adventure

3. From Santa Maria: Two-Hour 4WD Buggy Desert Adventure

Begin the tour with pickup from your hotel in Santa Maria. Transfer to the local partner's main office where you will be required to show your driver's license. Get kitted out and board your 4x4 to begin your adventure.  On the two-hour tour, discover the salt flats of Santa Maria, surrounded by beautiful sand dunes. Zip past Kite Beach, the favorite beach of kite surfers, before cruising along to Serra Negra, Sal's natural reserve. Stop at the viewpoint here, where you'll be rewarded with an amazing panorama of the entire south part of the island and out to Boavista Island (weather permitting) Buzz across the desert and then stop at the Palha Verde Oasis. Finally, end the tour with a stop at Ponta Preta, the most beautiful beach on the island. Return to the main office and then to your hotel in Santa Maria.

Sal Island: Guided Full-Day Highlights Tour with Lunch

4. Sal Island: Guided Full-Day Highlights Tour with Lunch

Get picked up from your accommodation and depart toward Santa Maria salt pans. There, find out about the local history and see how the locals extract salt, the activity that determined the island's name. Continue to the village of Murdeira, where you will have a short visit to its nature reserve and enjoy the views of Lion Mountain. Then, meet the locals in the fishing village of Palmeira before traveling to Buracona to see "Blue Eye" and, weather permitting, swim in its beautiful natural pool. Move on towards Miragem, grab some pictures of the effects of water illusions in the desert and take a well-deserved lunch break. Enjoy the local cuisine and discover the Cape Verdean gastronomy. Next, drive to Espargos and get to know its street arts that portray the Cape Verdean woman, her Morabeza, and history. After that, head to Shark Bay, a must-see when visiting Sal. Put on your water shoes, enter the ocean, and get close to the docile lemon sharks in their natural environment. Finally, visit Pedra de Lume, a salt farm located below sea level. Cross its cave, get into its extinct volcano crater and reach the lagoons from which the salt is extracted. Enjoy floating in the world's second saltiest thermal water, an unforgettable experience. The tour concludes with a drop-off at your accommodation.

Sal: 2-Hour 500cc ATV 4x4 Quad Desert Adventure

5. Sal: 2-Hour 500cc ATV 4x4 Quad Desert Adventure

Get your adrenaline pumping with a 2-hour quad bike adventure on Sal with a professional local guide. Begin your tour with pickup at your hotel in Santa Maria, then drive to the local partner's office. Once there, show your driving license and get your gear for your adventure. Then, embark on your 2-hour quad discovery tour. Ride first to the salt flats of Santa Maria and admire the beautiful sand dunes. Head on to Kite Beach, the favorite beach of kite-surfers, then make your way to Serra Negra, Sal's natural reserve. Stop at the Serra Negra viewpoint and enjoy an amazing panorama of all of the south part of the island. If the weather permits, you can also see Boa Vista island. From there, cross the desert to make your next stop at the Palha Verde oasis. Finally, visit Ponta Preta, the most beautiful on Sal, before returning to the local partner's office. You'll then be dropped off at your hotel in Santa Maria to conclude the tour.

Sal: Full-Day Guided Sightseeing Trip Around the Island

6. Sal: Full-Day Guided Sightseeing Trip Around the Island

Meeting at the front desk of your hotel at 9:15 AM, then make your way to the first destination, Ponta Preta (Black Edge). Witness a contrast between white natural sand dunes and dark-colored volcanic rocks entering the sea. This amazing combination creates huge and beautiful waves, making this location the stage for world-famous water sports competitions like surfing and windsurfing. While in Ponta Preta, you'll be introduced to the itinerary and provided with a brief history of Cape Verde. Next, head to Murdeira, located at the center of the island. Snorkel in the bay's crystal clear, coral-filled waters, and catch a glimpse of Monte Leão, one of the island's most prominent landmarks. From Murdeira, go north to the capital of the island, Espargos. Enjoy a local tour of the city ending in a panoramic view through the belvedere. Make your next stop at the fishing village of Palmeira, the only port on the island and an industrialized zone extremely important to the local economy. To the east of Palmeira, spot Buracona, a place with natural pools and an incredible rocky landscape of volcanic origin. This combination creates a wonderful phenomenon called "Blue Eye". From 10:30 AM–1 PM, the sun shines inside a 25-meter (82-foot) deep cave, allowing you to glimpse the image of a shiny blue eye staring at the majestic sky. More to the west of the island is Terra Boa, the only land for growing crops where you can enjoy another spectacle of nature, a mirage in the middle of the desert. On the way back to Espargos, pass the peripheral area of the island and visit some social institutions, such as kindergartens and schools. In Espargos, take a break for lunch in a local restaurant and taste a typical dish or savor one of the best pizzas in town. After lunch, continue to Pedra de Lume, where the famous Salinas (salt pans) are found inside of an extinct volcano crater. Bathe in the therapeutic waters before heading to the Baia de Parda around 4 PM to catch sight of lemon sharks. You'll return to your hotel around 5 PM.

Santa Maria, Sal Island: Sea Turtle Watching Experience

7. Santa Maria, Sal Island: Sea Turtle Watching Experience

Discover the magic of nesting turtles on this adventure tour Santa Maria. Join an evening excursion that takes you to beaches of Sal island where the turtles come up to shore and nest. Travel in a comfortable and air-conditioned vehicle for this unique tour. Get picked up at 8 PM from your accommodation and reach a beautiful deserted beach in less than an hour. Be welcomed by your professional and trained tour guides who will ensure a unique and environmentally conscious experience for all guests. Your guide will tell you everything about the evolution, characteristics, and curiosities of the turtles. Learn why their welfare is the top priority on the island. Cape Verde is home to 3 species of turtles. The yellow turtle, also known as the common turtle, is the most common species in Cape Verde. The sandy beaches of Cape Verde are one of the most important locations for common turtle nesting. In small groups, you’ll walk along the beach at night and watch out for turtles making their way up onto the sand. If you're lucky spotting the turtles, take a seat and remain as silent as possible in order not to disturb them while nesting. Following a unique experience, return to your accommodation where you'll arrive around 10/11 PM.

Sal: Private Airport Transfer to Santa Maria or Espargos

8. Sal: Private Airport Transfer to Santa Maria or Espargos

Avoid the hassle of navigating a foreign public transportation system or the expense of a taxi and enjoy a clean, safe, and reliable transfer between your hotel in Santa Maria or Espargos city and Amilcar Cabral International Airport. All transfers are available 24/7. Save time by booking your pickup service according to your flight times. Your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall with a sign with Sal Experience written on it. Relax and kick off your holiday in style, knowing that you are traveling in the company of a fully licensed and insured driver who will be happy to help you with your luggage or any other issues. So sit back, relax and let your driver take care of you.

Sal: Espargos city tour, Local life with Cape Verde flavours

9. Sal: Espargos city tour, Local life with Cape Verde flavours

We'll pick you up at your hotel in Santa Maria between 4 pm and 4:30 pm to drive to Espargos, the capital of Sal island. On the way to our destination, we'll stop at the Amilcar Cabral airport, located south of Espargos. Here we'll take the opportunity to learn about the importance of its construction for the development of the city. Next, .we'll visit the historic centre of Espargos, walking through its streets and admiring the colourful works of street art that we'll find on its walls, a reflection of the culture and daily life of its inhabitants During this walk, we'll stop at a local eatery where we'll enjoy an aperitif with typical Cape Verdean drinks. After this break, we'll walk back to a viewpoint from where we'll enjoy a splendid panoramic view of the town. From here, we'll move to the suburbs, where we'll experience the morabeza (Cape Verdean hospitality) and stress-free way of life of the locals. Finally, we'll return to Santa Maria and drop you off at your hotel two and a half hours after pickup.

Sal: Surf Lesson

10. Sal: Surf Lesson

Embrace your sense of adventure and hop on a surfboard in the beautiful sea around Sal, Cape Verde. Whether you’re a complete beginner or looking for surf tips in order to advance to the next level, this surfing excursion is the perfect chance to hit the beach and develop your surfing skills. Head straight to the surf school, meet your instructors and grab your boards, wetsuits, and surf shoes. From there you will walk over to Santa Maria Beach to one of the best surf spots for beginners and intermediates. Begin your lesson once you arrive at the beach, with the specifics of the lesson adjusted according to your skill level. Your lesson will start on the beach with a quick recap or intro for beginners. You will then go directly into the water for an hour of fun catching waves and surfing.  

Other Sightseeing Options in Santa Maria, Cape Verde

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What people are saying about Santa Maria, Cape Verde

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 489 reviews

The tour was really really interesting and super cool. We had Jorge as our guide. He's just super funny and can pass on a lot of knowledge. It was cool at all times and not even boring or anything like that. To get to know the island just perfect.

We had a great day with Djibril. Very nice guide, funny and good advice. The visit is very pretty and allows you to see all the important places on the island. I recommend!

We booked the roundtrip transfer. It was prompt for bothe trips. We appreciate the attentiveness and kindness on our travels.

We spent a lovely day with a very well prepared and friendly guide! Absolutely to do it!

It was a wonderful experience to be there when a sea turtle laid its eggs.