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Cape Verde is a diverse and exotic group of islands on the coast of West Africa. Cape Verde consists of several different islands, each of which is worth visiting. This distant island nation is a dream for many travelers and I myself visited here for the first time in 2022. Now that I’ve lived in Cape Verde for almost a year, I thought I’d list Cape Verde’s Top 12 pros and cons, the best highlights and the negatives, because it’s not always just dancing on a bed of roses even in a beach paradise like this. Or is it?
CAPE VERDE HIGHLIGHTS
Cape Verde always has a good climate all year round. The sun shines almost every day and the temperature is around +25-30 degrees. During the winter time it is high season, which is also the windiest time in Cape Verde. However, the wind is mostly just refreshing when the hot sun shines to the fullest. Cape Verde’s summer is hot and there is plenty of space on the beaches, because the European holiday season is also at its peak and there are no direct flights here from the north. It rains the most in autumn and on rainy days you can paddle up to your knees in rainwater, but the rains are not daily and of course they don’t last all day. Therefore, there is also room for sunbathing even in the rainy season.
WATER ACTIVITIES AND SURFING
Cape Verde and its turquoise sea water is an excellent place for swimming and various water activities. Cape Verde is especially famous among surfers and here it is possible to learn for example kite surfing directly from the world champion. You can also try plenty of other sports, such as jet ski rides, diving and snorkeling, paddle boarding, boat rides and many others.
Cape Verde is a great place for island hopping, of course depending on your travel schedule. Each of the islands is unique and both hikers and beach vacationers can enjoy here. Sao Vicente offers buzz and culture, Sal and Boa Vista are paradises for beach vacationers, and the green Santo Antao offers amazing mountain landscapes for hikers. Distances between islands require time and patience due to their somewhat unreliable travel connections, so I don’t recommend island hopping during a holiday trip of less than 2 weeks.
Read more about island hopping in Cape Verde here:
CHEAP LIVING COSTS AND RESTAURANT PRIZES
If you want to live in Cape Verde for longer, I recommend getting long-term accommodation from the local rental market. The rental prices of the apartments are affordable and you can get a spacious studio apartment or even a two-bedroom apartment for 250-300 euros/month in Sal, on the more local islands you can get even cheaper. Resorts with swimming pools are usually a bit more expensive due to their services, but they are still below the rental prices of many European countries.
In restaurants you can enjoy a daily lunch for an average price of 4.50-6€, depending on the place. In local restaurants, even an ordinary dinner is not too expensive, but the more touristy restaurants will of course raise their prices higher. So I strongly recommend to try and get lost further away from the main pedestrian streets in search of good and cheap food.
ACCOMMODATION FOR EVERY BUDGET
Every island in Cape Verde offers accommodation for every budget and need, from hostels to idyllic bed & breakfasts, from mid-level hotels to luxury hotels favored by travel agencies and, of course, a variety of holiday apartment accommodation from cheap to luxurious. Quality, style and price level vary widely. You can browse all types of accommodation in Cape Verde on Booking.com.
The relaxed lifestyle and the “No stress” attitude that has become the motto of the islands is admirable in its own way. Everything always works out, no stress. Now that I’ve lived in Cape Verde for a year, I still haven’t fully embraced this, because I’m an inner workaholic and I get stressed easily from every duty I have to take care of. On the other hand, I enjoy being in a place that at least maximizes the possibility of feeling relaxed.
CAPE VERDE NEGATIVES
EXPENSIVE GROCERIES AND LIMITED SHOPPING POSSIBILITIES
It is an island, so naturally everything is imported from elsewhere. Because of this, the price level of foods in stores are a bit higher. This is also not a shopper’s heaven, because for example in Sal you only find Chinese shops with fake products and a few tourist boutiques, where you can make mostly overpriced finds in the same clothes that you can get in every dozen stores in Europe for three times cheaper.
INTERMITTENT AND EXPENSIVE ELECTRICITY, WATER AND INTERNET
These are quite understandable things considering the destination. From time to time, the internet, electricity and water are breaking here. Surprisingly, however, these faults are often fixed quite quickly and things work more smoothly than expected, so it doesn’t really interfere with normal life. Electricity, water and internet are also quite expensive here.
APARTMENT RENTAL SCAMS
The rental prices in Cape Verde may be cheap, but you should be careful in the rental market. The guarantee money is easily held here and from time to time they just never return your deposit. Especially with rental agencies, I recommend caution. According to the law, you don’t have to agree to pay more than one month’s deposit here, and you should take pictures of the apartment carefully when you move into the apartment, in order to avoid unnecessary disadvantages at the time of returning the deposit. Never rent a home without checking it first yourself. I myself have bad and good experiences and I am happy to give tips.
SMALL PLACE, SMALL CIRCLES
Island life is wonderful and relaxed, but living on an island has its downsides. On a small island, almost everyone knows each other and especially other people’s businesses, or at least they think they do. It’s also common to gossip a little and cause drama, just to have a little entertainment. However, you shouldn’t stress about this, because everyone has their own way.
TERRIBLE LOCAL PAY LEVEL
Almost without exception, all companies here are owned by foreign private entrepreneurs or larger chains. The local salary level is really miserable and it doesn’t even cover the locals’ own living expenses, not to mention other nice things. The salary level is around 150-300 euros/month, depending on the island and the job.
LARGE HOTEL CHAINS AND TRAVEL AGENCIES
Cape Verde lives mainly from tourism. Big travel agencies bring large numbers of tourists to the islands every year. At the same time, large international travel agencies and the large hotel chains they also unfortunately take clients from the local entrepreneurs. Cape Verde has plenty of high-quality accommodation and good small restaurants, as well as local tour providers and guides who know their stuff and naturally know their own islands better than seasonal guides from elsewhere, so I definitely recommend getting to know the tours offered by the locals either online in advance or after arriving on site. And under no circumstances should you just stay only in the hotel area to sunbathe, because then you won’t get to experience even a scratch of the real Cape Verde.
CHECK OUT THE GUIDED TOURS AND BEST ACTIVITIES IN CAPE VERDE:
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HAVE YOU ALREADY VISITED CAPE VERDE? HAVE YOU EVER LIVED ABROAD AND EXPERIENCED ALSO THE DOWNSIDES OF THE DESTINATION? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna
*Photos: Tiina Johanna, blogger
*Photo editing: Loov.fi “Tropical blues” presets – check it out!
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Our beach wedding in Cape Verde was full of excitement, joy, laughter, music, dear people and delicious local food. A beach wedding abroad is certainly a dream of many and for us this was also a natural choice, because our home island Sal offers a truly fairytale-like setting for a beach wedding and several beautiful locations by the turquoise sea.
My husband and I met in March 2022, when I traveled to Cape Verde for the first time from my previous country of residence, Portugal, to meet my friend who worked in Sal as a tour guide. At first, mostly my husband and I just said hello to each other on the street and exchanged some quick words. After traveling to the island again a few times, in the summer something special happened between us and the pieces just fell into place.
I strongly believe in fate and that everything that is meant to happen will also happen when the time is right. The purpose of my summer month-long trip was to get to know the island more deeply and see if I could enjoy living in Cape Verde even longer, because I wanted a change from Lisbon‘s city life.
In August, it was time to move to Sal and my husband had promised to pick me up from the airport. All the time I was away from the island in Europe, we kept in touch and called each other daily.
When I then stepped out of the airport on an August night in Sal, my husband was waiting for me and from that moment on, we have been an inseparable duo, and I wouldn’t change a day of this time.
DREAM WEDDING ABROAD
It all started when one December evening in our home in Santa Maria, my husband asked if I really wanted to marry him. We had spent the day with work and a normal day at the beach, and in the evening, while watching a movie on the couch, he brought it up for the first time and asked the question. Without a moment’s hesitation, of course I answered “yes“.
We had talked about marriage things before, but only as a thought. Now it was real and no longer just a possibility or a thought.
On the anniversary of our relationship in December, we went to celebrate us at a restaurant owned by our friends, and there was a table decorated with candles and red roses waiting for us. After a few encouraging sips of drink, my husband grabbed the microphone, got down on one knee and proposed in the sweetest way, while being more nervous than I’ve ever seen him, he was literally shaking!
ORGANIZING A WEDDING IN CAPE VERDE
For me it was obvious that I would at least want my mother to attend our wedding. I knew that from my side hardly any family or friends would make it, because the flights are long and expensive. However, my mother had already booked a trip to visit us in March 2023, so we decided to organize the wedding while she was here.
The wedding venue was clear, because my dream wedding has always been a beautiful and intimate beach wedding, and we live on an island full of beautiful beachline so this made it pretty easy. Neither of us belong to a church, and a church wedding has never even been in our thoughts so for us that was never an option.
The first thing to do when getting married abroad is to get all the necessary information about the required documents and how to organize the wedding in your desired country. Of course, it is also important to take into account whether your partner is local or whether both halves come to the destination country from elsewhere just for the wedding celebration. The first thing to do here in Cape Verde is to get a list of the necessary papers from the local registry office, which must be taken care of in order to get married. These required papers certainly vary a bit from country to country and things may also change over time, so when organizing your own wedding, you should primarily seek up-to-date information from the authorities of both your own and the destination country and follow the instructions received there, for this reason I will not list the necessary documents here.
Cape Verde has some companies offering wedding planning services and many hotels and restaurants also offer good wedding packages. The price level varies a lot depending on the place, the content of the wedding and the number of guests. Our wedding venue was the beach restaurant Funana Casa da Cultura, where the lovely owner took over everything and organized our wedding.
Our wedding venue was a restaurant, so of course the food and drinks were automatically taken care of through this. The owner of the place, with the help of her contacts, also took care of the wedding cake, decorations, wedding car and music for us. The marriage ceremony took place on the beach in front of the restaurant, so we didn’t need separate permits or people to decorate the ceremony place. If you want an official ceremony at the location of your choice, and not at the registry office, you have to pay a little extra for this. It is also possible to do the official part at the registry office without additional costs, after which you just do a blessing ceremony at the desired ceremony location, for example on the beach. We ourselves wanted everything to happen from the beginning to the end in our beach ceremony, including the official parts.
WEDDING DAY FULL OF LOVE AND JOY
Our wedding was exactly like us. After entering the wedding venue, I saw for the first time our cute little white convertible decorated with blue and white ribbons and balloons, I saw our friends and the owner of the wedding venue and it all felt so real. Inside, our magnificent three-tiered, blue-white, beach-style wedding cake was in the center of the hall, and for the first time I got to see how all the decorations had been made. Everything looked really beautiful.
The feeling that I felt when I started to walk towards the beach and the ceremony was something I had never experienced before. When I saw my husband on the beach, handsome in his blue suit, waiting, I cried and I have never smiled more than in that moment and that day.
The ceremony was wonderful and exciting, there were only dear people that are most close to us. My mother walked me down the aisle and my husband’s niece was our ring girl.
The wedding was also filmed for the local television and after the ceremonial part it was time to take photos on the beach and move to the party venue. The party was full of great moments, fun, talking, delicious local food and drinks and good music. We didn’t want a lot of special activities, but of course the bouquet throwing and garter tradition had to be a part of our wedding too. The garter throwing is not a part of the local traditions here, and my husband was also a bit uncertain about this at first, but he managed to do it in good style and it was so much fun. Here the local tradition is to go for a drive with the whole wedding party, driving around the city and at the same time honking the horn so much that everyone will definitely hear and pay attention to the wedding party and the ongoing wedding, and above all the wedding couple. This was fun!
I couldn’t have wished for a better wedding and I am forever grateful for all the help and all the arrangements and all the people who were involved in this day (also remotely).
GETTING MARRIED ABROAD – CHECKLIST
- Find out the country’s required official documents for marriage
- Find out about your country’s required official documents for marriage abroad
- Get all necessary documents and official translations required for them
- Wedding arrangements: Place, time, wedding ceremony, decorations, food and drink, cake, activities, wedding car, guest list, invitations, flowers…
- Wedding dresses and suits (for example, Cape Verde does not offer a very rich and high-quality selection of dresses, so if possible get the dresses in advance elsewhere)
- Patience and a positive attitude, because everything abroad doesn’t always work as you might be used to in your country
- Be prepared for curious wedding crashers..
CAPE VERDE BEST TOURS AND ACTIVITIES:
ARE YOU DREAMING ABOUT A BEACH WEDDING ABROAD? ARE YOU PLANNING TO GET MARRIED IN CAPE VERDE? WHAT IS YOUR DREAM WEDDING LIKE? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND DREAMS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna
*Photos: Tiina Johanna, blogger
*Photo editing: Loov.fi “Tropical blues” presets – check it out!