Palmeiras, Sal Island, Cape Verde
Cape Verde

Food and Lodging in Cape Verde

A short tour through some of the best places for food and lodging in Cape Verde. Suggestions on where to eat and where to stay…

Holidaying on Cape Verde was a truly authentic experience. As travels to exotic places become increasingly commonplace, “Pure Life Experiences” get harder and harder to find. For me, such an experience entails the lack of differentiation between “us” as visitors, and “them”, the people whose country we are visiting.

faja de agua brava cape verde
A house in one of the villages on our hike down to Fajã de Água

This definition is best expressed in the services provided, particularly through the food and lodging in Cape Verde. All of the places we stayed at, and ate at, were run and owned by Cape Verdeans (or if not by Cape Verdeans, than by people who have made the country truly their home).

Cape Verde Oldest Settlement Cidade Velha
Row of colourful houses off the main street in Cidade Velha

Cape Verdean Cuisine

The food on Cape Verde is excellent. The cuisine is a mix of African, Portuguese and French, all simply done, using the freshest produce. Cape Verde has also seen a lot of immigration in recent times, from the second or third generation immigrant Cape Verdeans returning from the United States or Europe. Many of them are trying to do something different and unique with the local fare. I would describe modern Cape Verdean cuisine as soul food with a twist.

Bar Arminda Palmeira Sal island Cape Verde
A charming bar in the historic fishing village of Palmeira, on Sal island, Cape Verde

Some of the best places we dined at were:

Ponta do Sol, Santo Antão: Café Caledas

Café Caledas is a small, locally run brasserie serving up modern Cape Verdian food. There is a seasonal menu, which changes depending on the catch of the day, and live Morna music in the evenings. Some of the recipes are really unique, and honestly, the chef would not be out of her league in any large European city. The food was delicious and original.

Cape Verde diving blog sal santa maria pier free diver fisherman squid
A free diver gutting his catch of squid at the Santa Maria pier

Nova Sintra, Brava: Café Luanda

A very cute café, run and owned by a Cape Verdean couple returned from the States. They only serve what was caught and delivered that morning. The búzio (a type of clam) was the best I had on the islands. Café Luanda is also a lovely place to relax after a rewarding hike through Brava’s cloud forests.

sucupira market, the plateau, santiago, cape verde
A market vendor resting in the shade. Local produce, like squash and watermelons are sold at the market

Lodging in Cape Verde

The Cape Verdean government has taken care to ensure that a significant percentage of the tourist dollar stays within the country. To this end, they have encouraged locally owned establishments over international five star resorts, to the great benefit of both Cape Verdeans and visitors alike. Not only is the offering a lot more diverse, the places we stayed in were all wonderfully charming with lots of personality. Apart from Sal, we lodged primarily in small, family run guest-houses. Getting to know and making friends with our hosts were some of the most satisfying aspects of this holiday.

Nova Sintra Brava Cape Verde
A well-appointed home in the lovely little mountain town of Nova Sintra, Brava, Cape Verde

Some of the most memorable places we can fully recommend are:

Nova Sintra, Brava: Pension O Castelo

Located in the charming town of Nova Sintra, high up on the island of Brava, Pension O Castelo is run by Eugenia Matins, a Cape Verdean American. The guest rooms are simple and comfortable, but what really made our stay here was getting to know Eugenia and her lovely staff. They truly went out of their way to make sure we all had a good time. We were there for New Year’s Eve, and Eugenia threw the best party in town. It gave us and the other guests an excellent opportunity to mingle with the local community of Nova Sintra.

Pension O Castelo nova sintra
Pension O Castelo in Nova Sintra, Brava. Well run, comfortable beds, decent, local, breakfast

Ponta do Sol, Santo Antão: Casa D’Mar

Casa D’Mar is a small B&B run by Mar and Guillame, who are also excellent guides. Mar and her staff are from the beautiful village of Fontaínhas, about an hour’s hike away. The rooms are comfortable, and they try to bring in something special to the breakfast every morning. All the furniture was made by Mar’s father, and the rooms are simple but cute and very comfortable. Most of the reviews on TripAdvisor are in French, but we’d like to point out here that both Mar and Guillame speak English fluently. We can recommend them wholeheartedly if you’re looking for someone to organise your visit to Santo Antão.

casa d'mar ponta do sol santo antao desolate beach runway
View of the beach and the old runway from Casa D’Mar. Funnily, just on the other side of the guesthouse, it was perfectly sunny

Lombo Comprido, Paúl Valley, Santo Antão: Aldeia Manga

Aldeia Manga is a beautiful eco-lodge, built high up into the side of the Paúl Valley, facing a sheer peak straight out of James Cameron’s Avatar. Being an ecolodge, one can expect bugs and other harmless crawlies. If you’re squeamish, bring an insect net. There are no mosquitoes, however. This lodge is one of the most amazing places I have ever stayed in. If you’re visiting Santo Antão, it is a must.

Aldeia Manga Paúl valley Santo Antão real life planet pandora
View from the garden of Aldeia Manga in the gorgeous Paúl valley, on Santo Antão, Cape Verde

Mindelo, São Vicente: Pension Goa

An absolutely charming guesthouse, right by the beach and a few small volcanoes, Pension Goa is very nicely designed, with a cute common area, where dinner is served, and a courtyard for breakfasting in. The dinner, which is prepared by Rafhaële, is French styled and very good. It was the last place we stayed in, and we couldn’t think of  a better way to end our trip. A true refuge.

Residencial GOA, Mindelo, São Vicente, beach, cape verde
Looking out the fortress like entrance of Residencial Goa