What Is The Best Time To Visit Cape Verde? Travel Guide
When you want to travel to Cape Verde, you probably wonder, what is the best time to visit Cape Verde?
The best time to visit Cape Verde is between November and June. The average day temperature is around 24°C (75°F), the sea temperature is 25°C, and there is almost no rain. Perfect for a white-sandy beach holiday. And other activities: hiking, watersports, tropical carnival (São Vicente), and whale watching (Boa Vista).
This is just the tip of the iceberg. This travel guide will give you everything you need to know about the best time to visit the Cape Verde Islands. Including weather charts plus information about when the best time is for cultural events, whale watching, hiking, surfing, and other amazing activities. So continue reading.
The Best Time To Visit Cape Verde: Weather Chart
Cape Verde archipelago consists of 10 different islands, of which nine are inhabited. Each island has its unique vibe, landscape, culture, and different things to do, from beautiful white sandy beaches and a desert to lush green mountains. Let’s start with an overall look at the weather in Cape Verde before we jump into the differences per month.
Cape Verde Temparture Chart
As I mentioned earlier, the most favorable weather conditions are between November and June. Compared to the summer, there are fewer sun hours, and the temperatures are slightly lower. Still, on average, the temperature in Cape Verde is 75 Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius), which is perfect for anyone who wants to escape a rainy and cold winter for some nice sunny beach days. And there is hardly any rainfall.
But keep in mind that temperatures get much lower in the mountains on islands like Santiago, Santo Antão, and Fogo.
Cape Verde Rain Chart
In the most favorable months, you can expect the most rain in December and January, but that is only around 6 mm for the entire month. This is nothing compared to the rainy season from August- October, with 58mm per month at the peak in September. However, showers are often short and heavy. You can compare it a bit to 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 (sometimes months), it creates a beautiful and green environment on a lot of islands.
Cape Verde is an exciting holiday destination year-round. You are always guaranteed warm temperatures, many sun hours, and sometimes a refreshing rain. Many western European tourists choose Cape Verde as a destination during the winter months. So they can escape their home country’s short, cold, and often wet winter days. Let’s summarize and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the weather in Cape Verde:
Is there a rainy season in Cape Verde? The rainy season in Cape Verde is in August, September, and October. The average rainfall in August is 23mm. The rainy season is at its peak in September, with an average of 58mm of rain. October is the end of the rainy season, with an average of 12 mm.
What is the coldest month in Cape Verde? January is the coldest month in Cape Verde, with an average temperature of 24°C (75°F) during the day and 19°C (66°F) during the night. There is hardly any rainfall, and you can expect 8 sunshine hours a day.
What is the windy season in Cape Verde? The windy season in Cape Verde is from October to mid-July. The most steady and reliable wind for watersports, such as windsurfing and kitesurfing, is from December to March. Since Cape Verde is an archipelago 500 km out of the coast of West Africa, you can expect windy days all year round.
The Best Time To Visit Cape Verde: Month Guide
There are some differences throughout the year in terms of weather and activities. So let’s take a closer look at weather conditions and activities each month. So you can decide which month is perfect for your holiday in Cape Verde.
In January, the average day temperature is 24°C (75°F), and the maximum rainfall is 6mm. Many people like to soak up the sun during the winter days. This is also a great month for windsurfing and kitesurfing. And you can celebrate democracy day (13th of January) and Heroes Day (20th January).
Read more: What Do Cape Verdeans Celebrate? A Culture Guide
In February, the average day temperature is 24°C (75°F), and the maximum rainfall is 2mm. And this is an exciting month to visit Cape Verdev because of its tropical carnival. Each year in February or March, the Cape Verdeans go all out to celebrate carnival.
Their carnival celebration is similar to the Brazilian carnival: tropical and with a beautiful and colorful float parade, live music, flamboyant costumes, and lots of dancing. The biggest parade and celebration is in Mindelo, São Vicente.
Anyone who’s ever been to Cape Verde’s Carnival will tell you it’s an unforgettable experience. And we can tell from experience. We celebrated carnival with the Cape Verdeans (see video below), and it was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will tell my grandkids someday.
In March, the average day temperature is 25°C (77°F), and the maximum rainfall is 0mm. Perfect for a beach holiday in spring. And when Easter falls in March, you can attend an easter fiesta in many towns and cities, starting on Saturday with the re-enactments of Jesus’ resurrection in churches and lasting until the early hours of Sunday morning.
In April, the average day temperature is 25°C (77°F), and the maximum rainfall is 0mm. On average, April is the sunniest month in Cape Verde, with 217 hours of sunshine.
If you like to go to the beach and want some action at sea… perhaps you have whale watching on your bucket list? This month and the month of May is the best time to visit Cape Verde. And with that, I mean the island of Boa Vista.
Humpback Whales, the gentle sea giants, come to the shallow waters around Boa Vista every year between March and May because the conditions around the island are perfect for them to mate and have their young. Many companies offer whale-watching tours from the island of Boa Vista in these months.
You can either book a holiday to Boa Vista or combine a beach holiday in Sal with a visit to Boa Vista for some whale-watching action. And many other amazing things to do, as you can see in our travel guide video of Boa Vista below.
And if you are more into cultural events, there are some amazing festivals in the month of April too.
Cultural Events In April
|April||Santiago||Kriol Jazz Festival in Praia, Santiago|
|Last week of April||Fogo||Festa de São Filipe, Fogo (biggest festival of Fogo with sporting events, traditional rituals & concerts)|
In May, the average day temperature is 25°C (77°F), and the maximum rainfall is 0mm. Perfect for an early summer holiday in spring. This is the last month to be able to go whale watching in Boa Vista, and since there has been hardly any rain in the last months, you can expect lesser green and lush mountains when you want to go hiking in beautiful Santo Antoa.
On the first day of May, The Cape Verdeans celebrate labor day, which isn’t as grand or special as some of the other holiday celebrations in cape Verde.
Read more: Which Cape Verde Island Has The Best Beaches?
In June, the average day temperature is 26°C (79°F), and the maximum rainfall is 1mm. The temperature is picking up a bit, and there is hardly any rainfall. This is the month to go when you want to book a holiday in summer and be guaranteed nice weather. And during solstice/ the longest day of the year (23rd of June), you can celebrate The Feast of Sao Joao – Saint John and watch traditional religious processions and spectacular bonfires.
In July, the average day temperature is 27°C (81°F), and the maximum rainfall is 7mm. It is the last month before the real rainy season starts in Cape Verde. Still a perfect month to visit Cape Verde, as the temperatures are getting hotter, and the wind is slowing down, but you can expect a bit more rain to fall (short showers). And July has, on average, the lowest amount of sunshine with 149 hours.
If you like to dive, July – December are the best months for diving because these months are the best underwater visibility months. And this is the first month you can go turtle spotting, which is best between July and October. On the 5th of July, the Cape Verdeans celebrate their Independence Day proudly, where they celebrate their freedom and liberation from Portuguese rule since 1975.
Local Events In July
|4 July||Boa Vista||Community Festival on Boa Vista|
|Mid-July||São Vicente||“Kavala Fresk Festival” in Mindelo, São Vicente|
In August, the average day temperature is 28°C (82°F), and the maximum rainfall is 23mm. It is the first month of the rainy season and also one of the hottest months. This month is perfect for diving, turtle spotting, and laying on the white sandy beaches as there is less wind. On the 15th of August, the Cape Verdeans celebrate assumption day, which is a celebration of the Virgin Mary’s body’s ascent to heaven.
Local Events In August
|1st weekend August||São Nicolau||Music Festival in Tarrafal, São Nicolau|
|Early August||São Vicente||Summer carnival in Mindelo, São Vicente|
|August, the first weekend after the full moon||São Vicente||Music festival in Baia das Gatas (São Vicente)|
During the rainy season (August-October), you can expect to see the lush green mountains come back to life due to the rainfall. That is why August can be a great month for hiking on islands such as Santo Antao. We visited Santo Antão in March, which was still very green then, but in the summer, it is much more green and lush because of the rain. And since the temperatures in the mountains are not as high as at the beach, they’re perfect for hiking. See our travel guide video of Santo Antão below.
In September, the average day temperature is 29°C (84°F), and the maximum rainfall is 58mm. It is the hottest and wettest month of the year. Not so perfect for when you want to enjoy long, sunny beach days. But a perfect month for hiking and turtle spotting, which I will explain more about later in this article.
On the 12th of September, Cape Verdeans celebrate National Day, which is a Celebration of the Birth of Amílcar Lopes da Costa Cabral (1924). Cape Verdeans hero, independence advocate, and warrior.
Local Events In September
|15 September||Sal||Island Festival on Sal|
|Mid-September||Sal||Festival Santa Maria, Sal|
|September||São Vicente||Mindelo Theatrical Festival|
In October, the average day temperature is 28°C (82°F), and the maximum rainfall is 12mm. It is the last month of the rainy season, and the lush green mountains at several Cape Verde Islands will be in their prime due to all the rainfall. This is the month when Cape Verde is the greenest. It is also the last chance to see turtles. And it is the quietest month when it comes to national celebrations and holidays because there are none.
In November, the average day temperature is 27°C (81°F), and the maximum rainfall is 4mm. It is the first month of the start of the dry season. It is perfect for enjoying Cape Verde at its greenest while also enjoying many sunny beach days without rain showers. Also, from this month, the wind is starting to pick up more speed, and the high season of watersports can begin. And the last month of the best underwater visibility months for divers.
On the 1st of November, the Cape Verdeans celebrate All Saint’s day to honor Saints who have passed on to the afterlife. Cape Verdeans like to do processions that include drums, masks, costumes, and local dances.
In December, the average day temperature is 26°C (79°F), and the maximum rainfall is 7mm. Perfect conditions for a sun-filled holiday during winter because the temperatures are still fairly high compared to January and February. Why not celebrate Christmas on a white sandy beach? You can check for the latest deals here>>.
Like most of the world, the Cape Verdeans celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. And the only other local event in December is the São Filipe district festival in Fogo. If you want to visit a calm and unique Cape Verde Island, I can highly recommend visiting Fogo. The island has its name from the active volcano Pico do Fogo. Fogo means fire in Portuguese. Check out our travel video guide for some unique looks and things to do on the island of Fogo.
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 rainy season because then the valleys and mountains are at their greenest. The rainy season is at its peak during September and stops at the end of October.
For hiking, I would recommend visiting islands like Santiago, Fogo, and Santo Antão. Santo Antão is known as a hiker’s paradise.
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 of Santo Antão, including a unique, heartwarming vibe created by its locals. This island is only reachable by ferry from São Vicente – this ferry is the only reliable ferry in Cape Verde.
Santo Antao offers unique views of the valley of Paúl, Cova Crater, and the village of 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!
Fun Fact: The island Santo Antão is the most western point of Africa!
Read more about Santo Antão in our article “21 Reasons why Cape Verde is Worth Visiting.”
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, but these islands are also known as a kite- and Windsurfing paradise. And with shallow bays, reefs, and a large variety of underwater life, many islands are also perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Best Time For Kite & Windsurfing
The best time to visit Cape Verde is between December and March when the wind is the most reliable for these kinds of watersports, where you’ll have perfect wind conditions almost every day, where tradewinds come from the African mainland.
Sal and Boa Vista are the islands that are best for kite- and windsurfing. Year-round, kite- and windsurfing conditions are favorable on these islands.
The island of Sal has only one beach (Kitebeach) 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. This beach is very close to the main village Santa Maria, and not to miss when you’re on the island.
Boa Vista is the best for kite- and windsurfing. The island has many different beaches, with all the perfect conditions. For some beaches, it is only advised to go when you’re an advanced surfer. Heavy wind conditions blow 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 to the best surf spots on the island.
Best Time For Snorkeling and Scuba diving
The best underwater visibility months in Cape Verde are between July- December. These are the best months for snorkeling and diving. You can go diving from several of the islands, but the most popular are Sal, Boa Vista, and Santiago, where you can 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.
You can even go swimming with lemon sharks at Shark Bay in Sal! Check out our travel guide video of Sal below.
It is often not recommended to go Scuba Diving during the rainy season because the sea conditions can be too rough during this period.
There are many different diving centers in 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?‘ Because sea conditions vary per island and can even be dangerous. In many places in Cape Verde, it is not allowed to go swimming or surfing in the sea because of safety reasons.
Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for Whale Watching
Humpback Whales, the gentle sea giants, come to the waters around Boa Vista every year between March and May. The conditions around the island are perfect for humpback whales to mate and have their young because the bays around Boa Vista are shallow and, for a large part, closed off from the open ocean. And with warm water temperatures, the humpback whales feel it is the ideal mix of conditions they need for their young.
Several companies are offering whale-watching tours during these months. It is a must-do activity when you visit 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 on 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 than 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?‘
Best Time To Visit Cape Verde for 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 to lay 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 quickly return 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 take place in the dark.
And because turtles are very sensitive creatures, you must be very quiet and watch out for 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 have 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 or March.
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 the main reason we decided to visit Cape Verde, and I can recommend this unique cultural event.
Celebrating Carnival in Cape Verde is also possible on the other islands. Still, it is not as popular as in Sao Vicente. Most locals travel from the other islands to São Vicente to celebrate the tropical carnival. It’s one of the main reasons São Vicente is known as the cultural heart of Cape Verde.
Read more: What Do Cape Verdeans Celebrate? A Culture Guide
Cape Verde Travel Planning Guide
🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Cape Verde?
100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $2 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Safety Wing, one of the biggest names in travel insurance.
💧Can you drink tap water in Cape Verde?
No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water, so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Cape Verde and helps keep you hydrated while traveling to Cape Verde.
🚗 Is it safe to rent a car in Cape Verde?
Yes — Renting a car in Cape Verde is one of the best ways to see the islands. I always rent with Rentalcars, which checks international and local Cape Verdean companies, so you get the best rates.
🏩 What’s the best way to book places to stay in Cape Verde?
For Cape Verde hotels, Booking.com is the best site. If you’re considering an (all-inclusive) resort, I recommend TUI since they have the best resorts on the islands.
🛫 What’s the best site to buy Cape Verde flights? For direct flights from UK and Europe, I recommend TUI Airways. For finding alternative flights to Cape Verde, I recommend Skyscanner.
⛵️ Where to book the best tours in Cape Verde? For the best tours in Cape Verde, I highly recommend booking your trips at Get Your Guide.
🛂 Do I need a visa for Cape Verde?
Likely Not — U.S. and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Cape Verde. Most travelers will receive a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival.
😃 Which is the safest island of Cape Verde?
Santo Antão – Although all islands are safe to travel to, Santo Antão is the safest island of Cape Verde. It is known for “Morabeza,” a creole word meaning very friendly Cape Verdean hospitality. In the capital Praia on the island of Santiago, you must be somewhat careful but not need paranoia.
🗣 Do they speak English in Cape Verde?
Yes – Most staff speak English, and some are multi-lingual. The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese. The mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans is Cape Verdean Creole. (Read more)