Things to do in
Santa Maria, Cape Verde

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

Sal: Private Airport Transfer to Santa Maria or Espargos

1. 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 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.

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

2. 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

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

Get picked up from your accommodation and depart toward Santa Maria. There, find out about the history of the city, which has transformed from the exploration of salt to the biggest tourist city in Cape Verde. Next, you will explore the white sand and warm water of Kite Beach, one of the best places in the world to practice kite surfing and where the world kite surfing championships are usually held. Your tour continues to the natural bay of Murdeira from where you can enjoy the beautiful views of the Lion Mountain. Then, meet locals and fishermen at the fishing village of Palmeira. Have a chance to see the arrival of the crafts, as well as all the activity of selling fresh fish. After that, travel to Burracona to see "Blue Eye" (one of the 7 wonders of the country) and admire its beautiful and natural swimming pool. Next, explore Espargos, the economic center of the island. There, you can buy souvenirs and taste the local Morabeza. Your tour progresses to Pedra de Lume Beach and its salt crater, an old salt farm located below sea level. The water in the lagoons from which the salt is extracted is very hot and, of course, salty —27 times saltier than sea water in fact. Bring your book and enjoy reading while floating in the world's second saltiest water, an unforgettable experience. Continue towards Miragem, where you will see the effects of water illusions in the desert. Finally, experience Shark Bay and watch lemon sharks in their natural environment very closely. The tour includes lunch and concludes with drop-off at your accommodation.

Sal: Full-Day Guided Sightseeing Trip Around the Island

4. 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: Guided Snorkeling Tour

5. Santa Maria: Guided Snorkeling Tour

Snorkelling around Sal is a wonderful way to explore the underwater world, here we are lucky enough to have shallow reefs with an abundance of marine life, including tropical and Mediterranean fish, rays, turtles, moray eels and many more. It is possible to go from the beach in some areas, but it is much better to access the reef from a boat that will drop you of at the reef rather than swimming a few hundred meters of the coast and risk getting caught in strong currents. We use a zodiac rib to get us to the best sites and ensure maximum safety for all our clients. The Snorkel Tour takes approximately two hours. We meet all participants at our dive centre so we can fit you out with proper snorkeling equipment and fill in the paperwork. There you will also receive a brief overview explaining whats going to happen during your tour, the equipment you will be using, some basic knowledge about snorkeling and the rules that need to be followed for your safety during the tour. What's included Professional snorkelling guide Use of snorkelling equipment and wetsuits Snorkelling vests Please bring: Towel Water Minimum age: 8 years old No experience is required! • Explore the Atlantic ocean in safe and comfortable surroundings. • Supervision by our experienced and friendly guides. • All snorkelling equipment is supplied. We have three different sites where we can do snorkelling depending on the sea conditions we will choose the best considering safety, visibility and currents. Let me explain a little about the sites. In the bay of Santa Maria a couple hundred meters of shore there is a multilevel reef 3m to 8m deep giving a range of depth ideal for marine life to move around and suitable for all visibility conditions, at the end of the reef there is a shallow shipwreck, Bolama or more commonly known as Calderinhia due to the big boiler still left behind. Schools of soldier fish and snappers like to swim around it and are regularly found here in addition to parrot fish, trumpet fish and many others. Dunas is a series of shallow reefs interlaces with sand dunes ideal as refuge for many fish species and turtles, depth is around 7m. Bikini is further to the north, it is a shallow reef 2m to 6m where you can see corals in close proximity, lots of invertebrates such as morays and lobsters and since its closer to shore and shallow, it works as a fish nursery area. On occasions we visit the Christ statue in the Bay of Santa Maria close to the pier, this statue is only 3m deep and can be easily seen from the surface, placed here to protect the bay it is an attraction for both tourists and fish. Please take into account that it is a zodiac rib and thus the inside does get wet, keep your belongings safe and only bring what is necessary to the trip.

Santa Maria: Stand-Up Paddle Tour

6. Santa Maria: Stand-Up Paddle Tour

Meeting at the shop, wetsuits and sea shoes we be provided if needed. You will have a brief explanatory session on the beach with the stand up paddle boards and then go into the water with your instructor and guide. You will then paddle the bay of Santa Maria, taking in the sites from the ocean, checking out the local fishing men returning with their catch, also an opportunity to see ocean life, feel the summer breeze and of course RELAX!! Your instructor will be able to coach you during the tour making sure you get the best out of your paddle experience.

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

7. 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: Santa Maria Beach Turtle Nesting Experience

8. Sal: Santa Maria Beach Turtle Nesting Experience

After pickup from your hotel, drive to the beach. The guide will provide an introduction about the turtles, and how to behave on the beach. You may have to wait a while for the turtle to feel safe and come onto the beach. When she is ready, see the female turtle going up the beach, looking for the best place to lay her eggs. She will then prepare the ground and start digging. When the hole is ready, the turtle will start laying between 65 and 100 egg. When she is done laying her eggs, she will close the hole before going back into the sea. You will then be dropped back to your hotel.

Santa Maria: Guided Coastal Hike & Monte Leão Sunset

9. Santa Maria: Guided Coastal Hike & Monte Leão Sunset

Listen to the sound of the waves at Ponta Preta, Calheta Funda, and Murdeira on a guided hike to Monte Leão, climbing up the sheltered spot to watch the sunset by the sea. Start your walk from the Morabeza hotel in the late afternoon, heading towards the west coast of the island. Make stops at Ponta Preta, Calheta Funda, and Murdeira on your way to Monte Leão, enjoying beautiful coastal scenery. Climb up Monte Leão and watch the breathtaking sunset over the shimmering waves.

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 325 reviews

We booked a return trip from the airport to our hotel and highflying recommend using this transfer service. The driver was there on time, easy to identify and the company kept in touch with WhatsApp during the whole process.

Great tour that gets around all the main highlights of the islands. Tour guides were super friendly and the lunch spot was fantastic. Would definitely recommend!

Full day out taking in all the Island has to offer. Our guide was great. We really enjoyed the day.

Very efficient pick-up. A guide came along who was very informative about the island.

Very comfortable ride, driver told us lots more about Sal.