Cape Verde belongs to the group of islands, collectively known as Macaronesia, which also includes the Azores and the more well-known Canaries. Sal is one of the closest to Africa, with Senegal around 500kms away. It’s basically a flat dump of arid volcanic rock and was settled by the Portuguese to exploit its salt resources, hence its name. These days, the big attraction is the island’s 350 days of sun and its long sandy beaches.
The ROBINSON Club Cabo Verde is an all-inclusive resort situated on the best of these, 8km long and 200m wide and only opened in December 2019. It occupies the site of a previous hotel but retains only the extensive gardens which are overlooked by tall mature palms. The buildings are only two stories high and all rooms have balconies. It’s a relaxed place and conveniently close to Santa Maria for those who want to experience Cape Verdean life.
Only guests of 18 years and upwards are allowed and the comprehensive water sports and fitness facilities attract health-conscious couples. The mammoth buffets also have healthy eating options with freshly squeezed juices always on offer. As a result, there’s a younger age profile than similar resorts and there’s daily evening entertainment with dancing to follow.
The 307 rooms and suites are fitted with large screen LED TVs, USB charging ports, tea and coffee making facilities and fridge plus bundled bathrobes. The bathrooms have a walk-in shower, illuminated magnifying mirror and hairdryer. All have spacious balconies with table and chairs.
Sunbeds are laid out next to the sea with parasols and towels, and you can also relax by the large two pools. The one near the beach caters for swimmers doing laps whilst the other is more for relaxation and cooling off in the heat of the day. You can also swim in the Atlantic although it can be rough at times.
It’s almost always windy here and the water sports station offers surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, catamaran sailing and stand-up paddling, all with qualified instructors. You can take daily courses and learn any of these from scratch, although tuition is extra. There’s also a variety of beach sports and games including beach volleyball and water polo.
The Wellfit Spa offers massage and beauty treatments and includes steam bath and sauna, naked or clothed. For fitness fanatics, there’s a fully equipped gym for cardio and strength training and an indoor cycling room. You can hire a personal trainer or relax your mind with yoga or Pilates. There’s also a hairdressing salon on site. A nice touch is the complimentary access to laundry machines so you don’t have to pay to have your clothes cleaned.
The resort has three restaurants with the main one offering varied buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus afternoon snacks. In addition, late breakfast is available until 11.00. The other two offer waiter service with international and local a-la-carte menus but there’s a supplement to pay. All drinks are included although premium wines and special spirits cost extra. Three bars mean you’re never thirsty and the beach bar has a daily sundowner session complete with DJ dispensing chilled sounds.
Unlike many all-inclusive resorts, the town of Santa Maria, full of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, is only 15 minutes’ walk away. Fishermen bring their catch to the pier where women gut and clean the fish. There’s also a small surfing beach here and there’s some limited nightlife with live music.
Since the island is only 30km long and no more than 12km wide, it’s easy to see everything on a day trip. The highlight is the extensive salinas, salt lakes, at Pedra de Lume in a former volcanic crater. The salt content is higher than the Dead Sea so you can float while enjoying the moonscape surroundings.
Palmeira is the island’s port, and catamaran trips offer swimming and snorkelling. In Shark Bay you can wade into the swallows and paddle among tiny sharks without losing your toes. It’s possible to visit the other Cabo Verde islands but you’ll have to take a short flight, as the ferry service is unreliable. Sometimes, however, there’s a boat to Boavista, the closest, but it depends on the sea conditions.
Ultimately though, the whole point of coming here is to relax, enjoy the food and marvel at the kite surfers gliding above the waves. If you’re feeling active then try your hand at stand-up paddling or even windsurfing. And for serious surfers, you can go head to head with the locals in Santa Maria.
Tell Me More About Robinson Club, Cabo Verde
ROBINSON Club Cabo Verde Avenida dos Hoteis, CV- C.P. 62 Santa Maria
Sal, Cape Verde
Seven nights all-inclusive cost from £584 per person, based on two people sharing.
TUI flies direct from London Gatwick from £380, around six hours.
TAP Air Portugal flies daily via Lisbon.
Sal airport is 17 km away but there’s little traffic so travel time is around 20 minutes.
A visa is obligatory – buy in advance online or get on arrival for around €30.