Where is Cape Verde Located? | Islands Travel Guide

When we tell people we stayed at the Cape Verde Islands for 10 weeks and visited almost every single island, we get a lot of questions. The question we hear the most is, ‘Where is Cape Verde Located?’

So, where is Cape Verde Located? The location of Cape Verde is about 350 miles out off the northwest coast of Africa. The closest African country is Senegal. The different Islands spread across 2.485 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean. Boa Vista is the closest island to the African continent, and Santo Antão is the furthest away from the African continent. 

With the islands so widespread away from each other, you’ll find that each island has a different climate and their own cultural identities. And with such a distance it is not always easy to travel between islands. However, the Cape Verdean archipelago is a unique place to visit. The islands have it all! 

In this article, we’ll explain more where the Cape Verdean islands are located compared to each other and the different continents. We also explain the most comfortable way of traveling between the islands. Ready to learn more? Let’s find out! 

Cape Verde Santa Maria Sal

Distances Cape Verde to Other Countries

Because of the unique position of the Cape Verde Islands, it’s not always easy to travel to the archipelago. The distances between countries can be very long. We made a list of distances between several countries to give you a better idea;

  • The United States: 7,428 km | 4,616 miles
  • The United Kingdom: 4,799 km | 2,982 miles
  • Portugal: 3,088 km | 1,919 miles
  • The Netherlands (Amsterdam): 4,851 km | 3,014 miles
  • South Africa: 7,111 km | 4,419 miles
  • Australia: 17,404 km | 10,814 miles
  • India: 10,677 km | 6,634 miles

You can reach the islands by taking an international flight. It is not possible taking an international ferry. There are, however, domestic ferry connections between the islands. But later more on that. 

Daily flights leaving from the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Portugal in the direction of the Cape Verdean islands. Most flights are heading to the biggest island Santiago and the most popular tourist destination Sal. 

The flight company Cabo Verde Airlines also offers direct flights since 2019 from different cities in the United States. Current cities they’re flying to are Boston and Washington DC. You can find the latest information on the website of Cabo Verde Airlines

Location of Different Cape Verde Islands

Because of the distance between the islands, the Archipelago of Cape Verde is divided into two groups with a different wind direction:

The Barlevento Group (Windward Islands):

  • Santo Antão,
  • São Vicente,
  • Santa Luzia (uninhabited),
  • São Nicolau,
  • Sal,
  • Boa Vista.

The Sotavento Group (Leeward Islands):

  • Maio,
  • Santiago,
  • Fogo.
  • Brava.

The most Northwest Island and the Island with the most distance to the African continent is Santo Antão. The closest island to the African continent is Boa Vista. Both islands are in the top 3 of the biggest islands of Cape Verde.

Santiago is the biggest island of Cape Verde. You also find the capital, Praia, of the archipelago on this island. Half of the population of Cape Verde lives on the Santiago. Its the economic, historical and political heart of the Cape Verde Islands.


This island is the main island of Cape Verde with the capital Praia located in the south. This bustling city has large and colorful markets, beautiful architectural buildings, and great bars and venues to enjoy Cape Verde live music.

  • Island’s Capital: Praia (also the capital of the Cape Verde Islands)
  • Distance to Dakar: 650 Kilometres | 404 miles
  • The easiest way to reach: International flight from either Europe or the USA.
  • Closest neighboring Island: Maio (50 Kilometres | 31 miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Santo Antão (272 Kilometres | 169 miles)

The vibe on Santiago is the most African out of all the Cape Verde Islands. The landscape of Santiago is diverse. It has beautiful white sandy beaches in the north, Tarrafal and green mountains and valleys in the middle of the island.

The former capital of Cape Verde was Cidade Velha, located in the southeast on Santiago.

Would you like to get to know the Cape Verdean culture, enjoy beautiful nature and also spend a few days relaxing on the beach? Then Santiago is the perfect island for your holiday in Cape Verde.

Find out more about Santiago in our article What is Cape Verde Famous For?


The name Sal means Salt in Portuguese. The production and export of Salt used to be the biggest source of income for the Cape Verde Islands. Salt production mainly took place at the Island of Sal, and that’s how the island gets its name.

For a few years, tourism is the most significant source of income for The Cape Verde Islands, with Sal as the most famous and popular island out of all.

  • Island’s Capital: Santa Maria
  • Distance to Dakar: 620 Kilometres | 385 miles
  • The easiest way to reach: International flight from either Europe or the USA.
  • Closest neighboring Island: Boa Vista (65 Kilometres | 40 miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Brava (285 Kilometres | 177 miles)

Over the last 15 years, Sal has grown into a mass tourist destination that is great for sunny summer and winter holidays. The island is flat and dry, and its the white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and the African sun that makes this an attractive destination amongst many tourists.

Find out more about Sal in our article Best Things To Do in Sal

Boa Vista

The second most popular island is Boa Vista. This island also has excellent white sandy beaches, turquoise water, excellent kitesurfing conditions, and even has a desert! The Viana desert in the middle of the island is an extension of the Sahara desert on the African continent.

  • Island’s Capital: Sal Rei
  • Distance to Dakar: 593 Kilometres | 368 miles
  • The easiest way to reach: Domestic flight from Santiago or Sal. Or an International Flight from Europe.
  • Closest neighboring Island: Sal (65 Kilometres | 40 miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Santo Antão (270 Kilometres | 167 miles)

Boa Vista is also known for its marine wildlife. Certain times a year, it’s possible to go Whale Watching, and it’s also one of the best islands to spot sea turtles during their breeding period! Also, the island is one of the best islands to go kitesurfing or windsurfing, because of the many beaches and favorable wind conditions. 

Find out more about Boa Vista in our article What Can You Do In Boa Vista?

São Vicente

Known as the cultural heart of The Cape Verde Islands. São Vicente is definitely the best place to celebrate The Tropical Carnival in Cape Verde!

  • Island’s Capital: Mindelo
  • Distance to Dakar: 840 Kilometres | 522 Miles
  • The easiest way to reach: Domestic flight from Santiago or Sal. Or an International Flight from Europe.
  • Closest neighboring Island: Santo Antão (18 Kilometres | 11 Miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Maio (263 Kilometres | 163 Miles)

Did you know there’s a natural harbor in Mindelo? The harbor was the main reason why the island was very popular back in the day. Explorers used the island as a stopover on their journey to other places in Africa and the world.

Mindelo is also the city where the people of Cape Verde started their battle for independence. The people of the famous neighborhood Ribeira Bote were the first to stand up against the regime of the Portuguese.

Santo Antão

If you love hiking, Santo Antão is the place to be. And even when you’re not an active hiker, this island is a must-visit. The beautiful nature and relaxing atmosphere make it a perfect holiday destination.

Cape Verde is known for the term ‘Morabeza.’ This saying is difficult to explain, but let’s say Morabeza is the best mix of hospitality, friendliness, and no stress. The best way to experience the Morabeza vibe is definitely on Santo Antão

  • Island’s Capital: Porto Novo
  • Distance to Dakar: 858 Kilometres | 533 Miles
  • The easiest way to reach: Ferry from Mindelo in São Vicente. (Santo Antão doesn’t have an airport).
  • Closest neighboring Island: São Vicente (18 Kilometres | 11 Miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Maio (281 Kilometres | 174 Miles)

Did you know you can find one of the best views in the world at Santo Antão? According to National Geographic, the village Fontainhas has the third-best view in the world!

Find out more about both São Vicente and Santo Antão in our article, Which Cape Verde Island Is Best To Visit?

Santa Maria Sal Cape verde

São Nicolau

This island is also great for hiking and nature lovers! And the beautiful small town Ribeira Brava is absolutely stunning with the old architectural buildings. It feels like stepping back in time.

  • Island’s Capital: Ribeira Brava
  • Distance to Dakar: 762 Kilometres | 473 Miles
  • The easiest way to reach: Domestic flight from São Vicente or Sal.
  • Closest neighboring Island: Santa Luzia (45 Kilometres | 28 Miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Brava (199 Kilometres | 123 Miles)


Many refer to this island as ‘the forgotten island.’ It’s only a few kilometers away from Santiago, but a completely different world. If you’re looking for a relaxing time, hang out the beach and charge your energy, make sure to go to Maio.

  • Island’s Capital: Villa do Maio
  • Distance to Dakar: 620 Kilometres | 385 Miles
  • The easiest way to reach: Domestic flight from Sal. (flight time: 15 minutes!)
  • Closest neighboring Island: Santiago (30 Kilometres | 18 Miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Santo Antão (280 Kilometres | 174 Miles)

Except for relaxing on the white sandy beaches, Maio is also a place to see marine wildlife. You can watch nesting turtles, and a few times a year, you’ll see humpback whales passing by the island!

Santa Luzia

The only uninhabited island of Cape Verde. It’s not possible to visit this island, because Cape Verde declared it a natural reserve.


It’s the smallest island of Cape Verde, but no less beautiful. Brava is only reachable by ferry, and therefore it’s not the ‘go-to’ destination for many tourists. But if you have enough time, don’t skip this one.

The beautiful nature and lovely people will amaze you.

Because of the low tourism on Brava, it’s maybe the most authentic Cape Verde island at this moment.

  • Island’s Capital: Furna
  • Distance to Dakar: 776 Kilometres | 482 Miles
  • The easiest way to reach: Ferry from Fogo or Santiago. The island doesn’t have an active airport.
  • Closest neighboring Island: Fogo (20 Kilometres | 12.5 Miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Santiago (270 Kilometres | 167 Miles)


Fogo means fire in Portuguese. And that’s what this island is all about. It has the only active volcano of Cape Verde, Pico de Fogo. Which erupted for the last time in 2014. You can visit the small town Chã das Caldeiras at the foot of the volcano. Which is a memorable thing to do!

You’ll find yourself walking between the dried lava stream from the last eruption. And the quietness is something you just need to experience. A completely different world!

For the more experienced hikers, it’s possible to walk up to the volcano highest point, which gives you a fantastic view over the island

  • Island’s Capital: São Filipe
  • Distance to Dakar: 740 Kilometres | 460 Miles
  • The easiest way to reach: Domestic flight from Santiago, or you can go by ferry (which is unreliable due to the heavy sea conditions).
  • Closest neighboring Island: Fogo (20 Kilometres | 12.5 Miles)
  • Furthest neighboring Island: Santiago (238 Kilometres | 148 Miles)

Did you know you can find the most beautiful people in the world on this island? The descendants of the French count Montrond are living here. And because of the unique mix of European and African influences, you’ll find people of this family with dark skin, blue eyes, and blond hair!

Cape Verde Sal Fishing Boat

A Unique Mix of Culture and Historical Influences

The reason why Cape Verde is such an exciting destination to visit it’s because of the diversity in landscape and historical influences. Each island has a different climate, which makes up the extremely diverse landscapes between the islands. Also, the rich history of the Cape Verde islands makes this country a melting pot of different cultures and influences. 

The vibe on the Cape Verde Islands is a mixture of Portuguese, African, and Caribbean influences.

Because of the distance between the different islands, you’ll find that each island has its unique features that differ from the other.

Traveling between the Cape Verde Islands

You probably noticed the easiest way to reach each island in the above list is by taking a domestic flight. This is the fastest and most reliable way of traveling between the Cape Verdean islands. However, it is also possible to travel by ferry. 

Traveling by ferry is cheaper but not as reliable and fast, like taking a domestic flight. Ferry connections are often canceled due to heavy sea and weather conditions. However, since 2019 every island is connected via a ferry. Sometimes you need multiple connections to get from one island to the other. Still, it is possible to get around every island. 

Many people also wonder if it is easy to go island hopping between the islands of Cape Verde. This is a great thing to do, and I can absolutely recommend doing so. If you go island hopping, you learn and explore so much more about the country. You’ll notice that Cape Verde has an intriguing history and culture and that there’s much more to explore than white sandy beaches (which is also very nice!)

Find out more about traveling between the Cape Verde islands in our articles; 

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 — It is generally recommended to drink bottled water in Cape Verde. While tap water is generally safe for showering and brushing teeth, it may not be suitable for drinking. Bottled water is readily available and affordable throughout the country. Or you can buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water.

🚗 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 the 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)

⭐️ 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. However, Cape Verde has many attractions and activities throughout the year:

  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Hiking: November & December
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Snorkeling and Diving: July – December
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Kitesurfing: December – March
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Whale Watching: March-May
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Turtle Spotting: Mid-July – October
  • The best time to visit Cape Verde for Carnival: February/ March

Recommended Articles Cape Verde

We visited the Cape Verde archipelago for 10 weeks and traveled between many different islands. There’s so much to tell you about this unique country. And it can also be overwhelming choosing where to go when you first plan your visit to Cape Verde. 

We love to help you out, and that’s one of the reasons why we wrote different articles about Cape Verde. When we were planning our first trip we found that there wasn’t much helpful information to find, so we tried to change that. Hopefully, our articles make it easier for you to plan your trip to Cape Verde (or other destinations). You can find the complete list of articles about Cape Verde here

A few of our recommended, and most popular articles are;

Best Things To Do in Sal 

The complete list of unique activities on the most popular island Sal. Including a map, tips for the best hotels and restaurants, and much more helpful information! 

Cape Verde Travel Expenses Guide

Many people ask us how expensive it is to travel to Cape Verde. It totally depends on what you’re planning to do, where to go, and where to stay. A holiday to Cape Verde can be a cheap holiday, but it can also be very expensive. Find out more about the travel costs in our travel expenses guide. 

What is the Biggest Island of Cape Verde? 

The biggest island of Cape Verde is Santiago. This is also the island where you’ll find Cape Verde’s capital Praia.

In this article, we tell you much more about the differences between the most significant islands of Cape Verde. 

Best Time To Visit Cape Verde

Cape Verde has a tropical climate. Which means it is almost always sunny. Temperatures differ on average between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius / 75.2 and 86 Fahrenheit. Only a few days a year, there’s rainfall on some islands, and that’s not even that much.

So the island group is year-round a favorable destination. In this article, I’ll explain more about the best time to visit Cape Verde. 

Can you swim in the sea in Cape Verde? 

It is possible to swim in the sea in Cape Verde, but not everywhere. Because of the rough sea conditions and steep cliffs, it can be dangerous to swim in different places. You can find out the different places to swim in Cape Verde while reading the article. 

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