What Is The Best Time To Visit Cape Verde?

Are you’re planning a trip to Cape Verde and wondering what the best time to visit is? Cape Verde is year-round, an exciting holiday destination. Still, there are some differences throughout the year in terms of weather and activities. 

The best time to visit Cape Verde weather-wise is between June – July and September – November. The best time for cultural events is February when you can visit the tropical carnival. Whale Watching season in Boa Vista is between March and May. While the turtle season runs from July – October. Activities like hiking, kite, and windsurfing can be done year-round.

Cape Verde consists out of 10 different islands, from which 9 are inhabited. Each island has its unique vibe and different things to do. Let me tell you more about when to visit these islands and what to expect!

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Best Time To Visit Cape Verde: Weather 

You’ll get the best weather in Cape Verde during the months Jund and July, and September – November. 

December until May is also favorable weather conditions. However, during these months, you’ll have fewer sun hours, and temperatures are slightly lower. Still, on average, the temperature in Cape Verde is 75 Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). Temperatures get much lower in the mountains on islands like Santiago, Santo Antão, and Fogo. 

Cape Verde’s rain season is during August. Sometimes the rainy season lasts until the first weeks of September. During the rain season, the temperates are still warm, but precipitation, on average, rises to 0.6 inches for the whole month. Which is still relatively low, but almost double comparing it with the other months a year. 

You might say that August isn’t a favorable month to visit Cape Verde with much more rainfall than average. However, showers are often short and heavy. You can compare it a bit like the rainy season in Asia, only with less rain. The rain brings life to the islands. It gives the forest and vegetation a chance to grow. And for just a few weeks, it creates a beautiful and green environment on a lot of islands. 

The Best Time To Explore The Green Valleys.

The green valleys of Paùl (island Santo Antão), Assomada (Island of Santiago), and the Oasis of Rabil (Island of Boa Vista) are at their best during the rainy season. 

Everything is much greener during this period. And because of the rain, temperatures are favorable for longer hikes through nature. 

Cape Verde is weather-wise a perfect year-round destination. You are guaranteed of warm temperatures, a lot of sun hours, and sometimes a bit of refreshing rain. 

Many western European tourists choose Cape Verde as a destination during the winter months. So they can escape the short, cold, and often wet days in the home country. 

Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for Watersports

The most popular islands Sal and Boa Vista are not only perfect for a summer holiday, relaxing at the beach. 

These islands are also known as a kite- and Windsurfing paradise. And with the shallow bays, reefs, and large variety of underwater life, many islands are also perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. 

Best Time For Kite & Windsurfing

Sal and Boa Vista are the islands that are best for kite and windsurfing. Year-round the conditions for kite and windsurfing are favorable on these islands. 

Almost every day, you’ll have perfect wind conditions, where tradewinds coming from the African mainland. 

The island Sal has only one beach that is perfect for kite and windsurfing. There are a few other spots on the island as well, but these beaches are also used for other activities. So you’ll have less space for a surfing session on these beaches. Kitebeach is the name of the best kitesurfing spot on Sal. It is very close to the main village Santa Maria, and not to miss when you’re on the island. 

Boa Vista – Kitesurfing paradise

Boa Vista is much more favorable for kite and windsurfing. The island has many different beaches, with all the perfect conditions. For some beaches, it is only advised to go hiking when you’re an advanced surfer. Heavy wind conditions blowing away from the shore (in the direction of the sea), which can make it hard to get back to the beach.

When you’re planning a kite or windsurfing trip to Boa Vista, I recommend reading our article “Best Surf Spots in Boa Vista.” A complete guide of the best surf spots on the island. 

Best Time For Snorkeling and Scuba diving

Other popular water sports are snorkeling and scuba diving, which is both an ideal activity when you’re visiting Sal and Boa Vista. If you want to go snorkeling, you can easily rent a snorkel set at many places on both islands. 

It’s like a ‘must-do’ when in Cape Verde, exploring the underwater life and colorful reefs. It is often not allowed to swim with flippers or swimfins because of fo the shallow waters. There’s a high chance you’ll damage the coral with the fins. 

Snorkeling is an activity you can do throughout the whole year. In Sal, it is even possible to swim with lemon sharks at Shark-Bay! These sharks are not dangerous for humans, read more about this unique activity and other great things to do in our article Best Things to Do in Sal

Scuba Diving

It is not recommended to go Scuba Diving uring the rain season because the sea conditions can be too rough during this period. Except for August (it is possible to go on some days, depending on the daily weather conditions), you can go scuba diving in Cape Verde year-round. There are some great diving spots on different islands. Explore shipwrecks and coral reefs, and close to Santa Maria beach in Sal, you’ll find christ of the Seas, a statue people put in the sea to protect the island’s fishermen. 

Which is another fun activity to do, by the way, when you’re in Sal. Going on a fishing trip with the locals, and finish your day with a beach-barbecue grilling your freshly caught fish! 

There are many different diving centers on Sal and Boa Vista, where you can rent diving gear, and follow diving courses. If you’re into watersports like snorkeling, scuba diving, or even swimming, I recommend reading our article Where In Cape Verde Can You Swim in The Sea?

Sea conditions vary per island, and can even be dangerous. So in many places in Cape Verde, it is not allowed to go swimming or surfing in the sea, because of safety reasons. 

Tarrafal Cape Verde Oasis

Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for Hiking

Hiking in Cape Verde can be done year-round. But the best conditions are just after the rain season. So roughly during September and October. The valleys are at their greenest right after rainy seasons. And if you want to go hiking in Boa Vista during this time, you’ll have the chance to visit the flourishing Oasis of Rabil. 

However, Boa Vista is not the best island to go hiking Cape Verde. I would recommend visiting islands like Santiago, Fogo, and Santo Antão if you’re a hiking enthusiast. 

The exciting part of these islands is that the mountains create their own microclimates, which results in beautiful green valleys throughout the year. You’ll find the best valley and hiking trails on the island Santo Antão. This island is only reachable by ferry coming from São Vicente and has a unique vibe. 

This ferry connection between São Vicente and Santo Antão is the only reliable ferry connection in Cape Verde. Ferries between the other islands are often canceled due to bad weather conditions or technical issues. 

Santo Antao offers unique views at the valley of Paúl, Cova Crater, and the village Fontainhas. Which is, according to National Geographic, a village with one of the most beautiful views in the world. 

I still feel that Santo Antão was one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever been to. We visited the island during our Cape Verdean roundtrip in 2017. The combination of the lovely and friendly people and beautiful nature makes it the island in my top-5 places to visit in the world! 

Read more about Santo Antão, in our article 21 Reasons why Cape Verde is Worth Visiting.”

Fun Fact: The island Santo Antão is the most western point of Africa!

Travel Must-Haves For Every Traveler

These items are must-haves for every traveler, and I can highly recommend them without any hesitation:

Travel Hammock: 
This lightweight hammock is made of ultra-light parachute silk material. The hammock fits in a small portable bag and is very-easy-to you use. You can relax comfortably anywhere: on the beach, by the lake, in the forest, campsite, your hotel, Airbnb and even at home! 

The North Face Backpack: 
This is a high-quality, versatile, and practical daypack from one of the best brands in the world. It is a perfect choice, no matter what kind of travel plans you have.

Oasis Kindle E-reader: 
A waterproof E-reader for unlimited reading while traveling. It is a must-have for every traveler that enjoys reading. This E-reader has an adjustable warm light to shift screen shade from white to amber. It also works with Audible, so you switch effortlessly from reading to listening.

Sony Noise-canceling headphone: 
A world-leading noise-canceling headphone to make your travel trip more comfortable and less exhausting. One of the best travel products out there. Either for listening to music, podcasts. Or to block all the noise during traveling, for example, when you’re in an airplane. 

GoPro HERO 8
We’ve been using a GoPro camera since the first generation came on the market. It is our go-to travel camera ever since. Perfect for making the best pictures and memorable videos. It’s easy to use, waterproof and fits in your pocket or daypack. The new generation has a built-in stabilizer so that videos will be even better quality! 

Check out our recommendations page for more travel gear and recourses. 

Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for Whale Watching

Humpback Whales, the gentle sea giants, are coming to the waters around Boa Vista every year between arch and May. The conditions around the island are perfect for humpback whales to mate and have their young. 

The bays around Boa Vista are shallow and, for a large part, closed off from the open ocean. With warm water temperatures, the humpback whales feel that it is the ideal mix of conditions they need for having their young. 

Several companies are offering whale watching tours during these months. It is a must-do activity when your in Boa Vista during the whale watching season. The chance of whale encounters is over 90%, which is very high! And there’s often a marine biologist on board who can explain more about the behavior of the animals.

It is also possible to go whale watching at the island of Maio. The whale season on this island is during the same period as in Boa Vista. However, Maio is a lot harder to reach then Boa vista. To reach the island, you first need to travel to Santiago, and from there, take a connecting flight or ferry to the island of Maio. 

You can read more about Maio in our article Which Island in Cape Verde Is Best To Visit? 

When you travel to Boa Vista, it is often possible to fly directly to the island from major cities in Europe. The Travel company TUI offers direct flights and complete holiday packages that depart from London, Amsterdam, and other cities. Find out the latest deals from TUI here

Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for Turtle Spotting

Let’s stay on the island Boa Vista for this unique activity. Boa Vista is also known as the best island for turtle spotting. For an island where a lot of people think there’s not much to do, Boa Vista offers many great activities! Read a complete guide of activities in our article What Can You Do in Boa Vista?

Okay, turtle spotting. Sea turtles find their way to many Cape Verdean islands. However, Boa Vista is somehow the most popular island for these unique creatures. The turtle season, the period when sea turtles come to show to find a place for laying their eggs, runs from mid-July to October. A long period annually, where you have the chance to spot these amazing animals. 

However, it is not guaranteed you’ll have an encounter during a turtle spotting trip. 

The turtles are highly aware of dangers, so they’re easily scared. And if that happens, they are quickly going back to the waters and save their eggs for another time and place, where they feel safer. Turtles lay their eggs during the night, so the turtle trips are taking place in the dark. 

Because turtles are very sensitive creates, you must be very quiet and watch out with using a flashlight. Even the slightest sounds or changes of light might scare them. Luckily the tour guide can explain how to behave during the encounters. 

Turtles are still an endangered species, and because the breeding period is delicate, it is not allowed to go turtle watching by yourself in Cape Verde. You must go on a guided tour. Luckily you can easily book a guided tour. The tour guides know the best places and how to behave during this tour. Which gives you the best chance to a unique encounter. 

Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for Cultural Events

Cape Verde is not only a perfect summer destination because of the beautiful weather. The unique mixture of cultures makes it extra special to visit the islands. 

There are many cultural events held throughout the year on different islands. However, the most unique cultural event is Tropical Carnival, which is celebrated annually in February. 

So if you want to learn more about Cape Verde’s culture and celebrate with the locals, the best time to visit would be in February. And the island where you should go is São Vicente. Which is the most famous island to celebrate the carnival. 

Officially carnival takes place for a period of 3 to 4 days with many parades and festivities. However, in the weeks before the official carnival, you’ll find many spontaneous events and parades in São Vicente, where people are preparing for the massive show during the official carnival. 

Many people say that celebrating the carnival in Cape Verde is the most authentic way of celebrating tropical carnival. We visited this event ourselves during our roundtrip through Cape Verde, and I must say it was a unique and special experience! We had so much fun! The tropical carnival was actually the main reason why we decided to visit Cape Verde, and I can everyone recommend visiting this unique cultural event. 

Celebrating Carnival in Cape Verde is also possible on the other islands. Still, it is not so popular as in Sao Vicente. Most locals travel from the other islands to São Vicente to celebrate tropical carnival. It’s one of the main reasons São Vicente is known as the cultural heart of Cape Verde. 

There are many other cultural events in Cape Verde, but nothing is so authentic as the tropical carnival. However, the traditional Cape Verde music Morna is also worth checking out. 

National Music of Cape Verde: Morna

Morna is the national music of Cape Verde. It is a mixture of jazz, Latin, african beats. Lyrics are most of the time in Creole, the spoken language among the locals in Cape Verde. 

The music was world widespread by Cesaria Evora, Cape Verde’s best-known singer. Unfortunately, she died in 2011 at the young age of 70. A few years before, in 2004, she got worldwide recognition for her music and won a Grammy. One of the most significant music awards in the world. 

I think the best way to experience traditional Cape Verde music is either by going to the small cafes in Mindelo, São Vicente. Or visit Cape Verdes Capital Praia, where you find the renowned music venue, Quintal da Musica. 

Did you know that Cape Verde was uninhabited until the 15th century? It was discovered by the Portuguese and quickly became a transfer hub for the transatlantic slave-route. This awful history was also the beginning of the unique cultural mixture that Cape Verde is today. Both Europeans and African people stayed on the islands longer than planned and lived peacefully together. In the centuries that followed, a unique culture was born. Read more about Cape Verde’s history and culture, in our article What is Cape Verde Famous For?

Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for Island Hopping

The Cape Verde archipelago consists out of 10 islands from which 9 are inhabited. Santa Luzia is the only islands that are uninhabited and stated a national park of Cape Verde Republic. 

If you have like 10 days, two weeks, or even longer, and looking for a trip with lots of variation and adventure, I recommend going island hopping in Cape Verde. 

Island hopping in Cape Verde is easy to do year-round. However, you’ll need to plan that sort of trip a bit in advance. You need to know more about travel time and distances between the island. And in Cape Verde, it is not always possible to travel daily between the islands. Many islands are only reachable by taking a ferry, but this is not the most reliable way of traveling in Cape Verde. So if you have two weeks or shorter I recommend to skip islands like Maio, Bravo and São Nicolau. 

The only reliable ferry runs between São Vicente and Santo Antão. Both islands I would always recommend visiting during a Cape Verde island trip. 

Islands that are easy to travel to and also have good domestic flight or ferry connections are:

  • Sal, 
  • Boa Vista, 
  • Fogo, 
  • Santiago, 
  • São Vicente, 
  • Santo Antão (only a ferry)

When you’re planning a roundtrip to Cape Verde, you might want to read our Cape Verde Island Hopping GuideIn this article, we explain the best way to get around the islands, and we created several island-hopping itineraries.

Recommended Articles Cape Verde

Cape Verde is a great destination, but there’s not a lot of information to find where you should go when visiting the islands. That’s why I wrote several articles, so you can easily prepare for your next trip. You can find a complete list of the articles here

A few articles which I recommend reading when you’re planning your trip to Cape Verde are: 

Léon Kopijn

Léon Kopijn works and lives as a Digital Nomad. He travels the world with the love of his life and writes about inspiring cultures and practical travel tips. Find out more about Léon on his about page!

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