Cabo Verde. Sal.
Girmantas | Surfing, Windsurfing, Travel, Spots | February 11, 2010
Back in the days when reading windsurfing magazines took more time than windsurfing itself I (Girmantas) found a perfect place. It was called Boa Vista in Cabo Verde. The pictures were so great – sandy dunes, blue water, nice (not too radical) waves. The name kept spinning in my mind for another 3-4 years when PWA entered Sal island in 2007. Hardcore wave event took part in the most famous spot Punta Preta (the Black Point). Next winter I got a good chance to go to Cabo Verde. It was Sal island. But at that time I wasn’t looking for not too radical wave already.
Cheap flight from Warszaw (Poland) including half board hotel was less than 500 EUR! I wasn’t going to waste such an opportunity. I packed my stuff and took off with another windsurfer friend Mindaugas. The trip was fantastic! Great weather, friendly people, rich culture and our mood was just right. I did not succeed to score on the west coast of Sal island. However, Santa Maria bay got pretty good conditions. To watch guys like Josh Angulo and ride the wave together with them was a great experience too.
Wind and Waves
For us it was the first time of proper side-off-shore conditions with Atlantic swell. By that time perfectly shaped glassy wave was something yet unexperienced. Baltic and North seas even with side-off-shore gets a lot of chop on the wave face. This wave was totaly different and just great. Both of us were super stoked the day we got some waves in Santa Maria. For the first time we felt what it means to ride a wave.
Cabo Verde has a constant trade winds, though they are not very strong. On a good day you may expect 20-25 knots wind. The main direction is North East. Most of the wave spots has side-off or off-shore conditions. Clearly, closer to the shore the wind is getting gusty. This might be tricky – in some of the wave spots to go out you’ll have to go through the beachbreak while the wind is lighter and gusty.
But once you’re out, Atlantic wave has a lot to offer. For flat water windsurfers and kiters enjoys the bay of Santa Maria. C shape bay offers offshore wind on the east tip and side-on-shore on the west tip. Bay is perfect for freeriding, slalom, freestyle. Those who want some waves, but are not so self confident can choose the East cost. Side-on-shore wind and some waves create comfort conditions. But if your’e here to catch a real WAVE, once the west coast meets NW swell it becomes serious! The best swell comes in winter months – December through March. Still April-May can get some good swell too. There are quite a lot of spots, though the most known is Punta Preta.
Most wave spots have a point break and the waves are peeling over the rocky reef. You have to be aware of the tides and make sure not to pick the wave which is too small. Small waves are peeling closer to the shore and you don’t want to end up on the rocks. Once i went too deep on the wave in Santa Maria and couldn’t get out of the wind shadow. I was trying not to break my rig. It worked! I payed the price of cuting all my feet on the reef. The conditions might be tough. We saw around 10 fully crashed rigs just in two days!
Life in Sal
In Sal time goes twice slower or at least it seems to be so. But thats good as you can do twice more a day than usually. The food is great. Selection of fish is incredible. Every day you may taste a new kind of fish as well as variety of seafood. On the other hand, you have no problem to get some meat. Also there are few european restaurants including pizza place. Beer is brought from Portugal mostly and is light and tasteful lager.
If the wind is not so good there is still plenty things to do around the island. Buggy or quad safaris, diving, fishing, trips to other islands and of course surfing. The island is great for surfing as for the other water sports. Even with small swell you may find some places to ride a surfboard. You will meet a lot of surfers from all around the world here in Cabo. And locals gonna sing the songs about them. Just like they sung one for us. Unfortunately, the words of that was forgotten in the vortex of the party
Locals are friendly but some africans (mostly from the mainland) are here to do business. And so every single white person is a walking wallet for them. Sometimes you have to be strict but most likely after you said NO they will cross the street and go looking for another “client”. But if you decide to check what they are selling be aware of the prices. Usually the first price is 10-50 times higher than the one you should pay. And still its another 5 times more than the original price. So if someone is asking 20 euros for a neckless or a shell give him one and still consider that you have overpaid.
Native locals are really friendly and nice and not so happy about the africans. It might be a good idea to find some (semi) local guy once you’re on the island. As everything is incredibly more expensive for the tourists, locals can get you everything at reasonable prices. They will get an euro or two out of it, but you’ll not have to take care of finding stuff you need.
While I was working on this article Josh Angulo made a great job to put some info on his new website. Check out www.angulocaboverde.com and you will find everything you’re willing to know about the island, living here, food, spots and so on. Also you can check my trip photo gallery on www.extreme-sports.lt.