Where to Stay on Sal Island – an Insider’s Guide

Where can you find turquoise waters, teeming with tropical fish, encircling an ethereal, other-worldly landscape? On the island of Sal, Cape Verde, choose Murdeira Village for seclusion. If you prefer to be nearer to beaches and facilities, choose the resorts around Santa Maria. Seeking luxury? Go for Tortuga Beach.

Santa Maria beach with holidaymakers in sea

Sal island sits to the East of the 10 island archipelago. Along with the other easterly islands of Boa Vista and Maio, the westerly winds of the Sahara desert, and the sands they bring with them, have provided the islands with some of the best beaches on the planet. All 3 islands are noted for their barren almost lunar landscapes and spectacular unspoilt beaches. Sal is thinly populated with the majority of people living within the two main towns; the capital Espargos where the new International Airport is located; and Santa Maria, Sal’s tourist hotspot.

Santa Maria

Sal is Cape Verde’s tourist centre. The town of Santa Maria on the southern tip of the island draws in most of Cape Verde’s holidaymakers and has undergone substantial development in recent years. You will find beach side cafes, bars and restaurants plus large hotel complexes as well as many of the new luxury villa resorts. Santa Maria, and Sal is general, is recognised as one of the world’s top windsurfing destinations. Enjoy long strolls along Santa Maria’s white beaches or simply relax in the sun. With year round temperatures in the mid 20s centigrade and long sunny days Santa Maria is fast becoming one of the world’s top winter sun destinations. Work now commencing on a Hilton Hotel in Santa Maria signals the dawn of a new phase of the islands development.

pastel coloured buildings in street in Santa Maria

Murdeira Village at Murdeira Bay

Murdeira is a highly-secluded and quiet location in the north west of Sal, and an alternative to the island’s main resorts which are based in and around Santa Maria on the far south coast. This resort allows unhindered enjoyment of sun, sea, and nature. Murdeira’s traditionally-designed, single-level villas are self-catering, and though Murdeira has a couple of its own restaurants and bars, most facilities are in Santa Maria – a 20-minute drive away. The resort is accessed south from Sal International airport on the way to Santa Maria.

beach front pool at Murdeira Village resort

Dunas Beach at Ponta Preta

Though it’s a resort destination, Dunas Beach is still a peaceful, quiet place to stay on Sal. The resort has higher-end self-catering accommodation and a sizeable swimming pool. Guests benefit from shop and restaurant facilities at neighboring resorts, while the attractions of Santa Maria are a 6-minute cab ride away. It’s a 40-minute walk from the town centre if you fancy taking in the scenery. Plus, the glorious white sands of Ponta Preta beach are just moments away on foot.

white washed Dunas Beach apartment

Paradise Beach at Ponta Preta

Also just a hop, skip and a jump from the shimmering sands of Ponta Preta beach, the Paradise Beach resort is a 6-minute cab ride, or 40-minute walk, from shops, restaurants and bars at Santa Maria. The resort’s generously-sized modern self-catering villas share a swimming pool, with its own pool bar. Paradise Beach is a top choice if you fancy trying out kitesurfing or windsurfing.

sandy coloured apartments at Paradise Beach Resort

Tortuga Beach

With its dazzling beachfront location, the high-end Tortuga Beach resort features traditionally-designed villas that nevertheless boast shiny, up-to-date facilities. Visitors may also choose fully-serviced rooms within the resort’s 5-star hotel. Beach views from Tortuga are sensational, while palm sunshades on the beach and within the resort add to the tropical paradise feel. Tortuga Beach resort is well-served by its own restaurants and bars, while Santa Maria is an 8-minute cab ride away, or 40 minutes on foot.

Luxury Tortuga Beach Resort pool area

Porto Antigo

Right in the buzzing hub of Santa Maria, Porto Antigo is a beach resort perfectly located for surfing and watersports. Visitors are well placed to explore the shops, restaurants and bars of Santa Maria – Porto Antigo is just a 5-minute amble from the town’s centre point. Villas are traditionally-designed, and while basic in style they are equipped with everything you’ll need. There’s a shared swimming pool with a marvelous sea view.

Porto Antigo Resort directly on the beach at Santa Maria

Vila Verde

This peaceful resort is a short stroll away from Ponta Preta beach, and is 5 minutes by taxi from Santa Maria. Walk in to town in 25 minutes by road, or enjoy a stroll along the beach, which takes around an hour. The Vila Verde resort does have its own shop and restaurant so there’s no need to book a cab if you just need to pick up some essentials. Most apartments are within 3-floor buildings, as opposed to the single-level villas common in other parts of Sal. These roomy, air-conditioned self-catering apartments also offer a shared swimming pool – ideal for an early morning dip.

Apartments at Vila Verde Resort overlooking pool