Located on the northwest coast of the island, Palmeira is a fishermen village which also hosts the main port of Sal. It is also the third busiest port of Cape Verde after the port of Praia (Santiago Island) and Mindelo (São Vicente Island).
Palmeira is the third biggest village of Sal with approximately 2.000 inhabitants. In Palmeira, you can still see the typical colorful houses of Cape Verde and can get a taste of the local Cape Verdean lifestyle as it was before the tourism arrived.
Located on the northwest coast of the island, Buracona is one of the most famous attractions of Sal thanks to the natural swimming pool and the “Odjo Azùl” (Blue Eye).
The Blue Eye is a cave 24 meters deep that is connected to the ocean. When the sun reaches the center of the sky, the sunlight illuminates the sandy bottom of the cave that gives visitors an amazing reflection that resembles a Blue Eye.
A natural swimming pool resides adjacent to the Blue Eye. Due to the tides of the ocean, the conditions of the pool change on a daily basis. Many days the waters are ideal for swimming; however, on other days the pool will experience the strength of the ocean with waves crashing on black lava rocks.
There is a restaurant, restrooms, and a souvenir shop inside the area.
This attraction requires an entrance fee of 3€ per person. Entry is FREE for children and Cape Verdean nationals and immigrants with a valid ID Card.
Since it’s a natural effect caused by the sun, it is important to view the Blue Eye on a sunny day when the sun is at its highest point between 11am and noon.
Located on the northern portion of the island, Terra Boa is the greenest place of Sal.
In Terra Boa it is also possible to see the “Mirage” (or “Fata Morgana”). The Mirage is an optical phenomenon in which the hot light rays on the ground reflect distant objects and the sky, which create the illusion of a desert lake.
Located on the northeast coast of the island, Pedra de Lume (translated: Firestone) is now a small fishermen village.
The village was built in 1796, by Manuel António Martins, and was divided into two parts:
The houses of the slaves, on the top of the hill.
The port, the warehouse and the cable car down the hill. The cable car was able to transport up to 80,000kg of salt per hour from inside the crater to the village.
The old crater of Pedra de Lume is famous because of the salt flats that you can find inside. Salt flats that had seen their “golden times” during the 18th century when the salt was mostly exported to Brazil, until 1887 when the Brazilian Government decided to banish the salt importation.
The salt production was revived by a French company named “Salins du Cabo Verde”, which was the owner until the end of the 20th century when they closed the production and sold the area to an Italian company who bought it for touristic purposes.
Today, the volcano of Pedra de Lume is one of the main attractions of Sal and a must for every tour. You can either enjoy the view from the top of the crater or swim (actually float) in the second most salty water of the world.
In order to enter to the crater you will need to pay an entrance fee of 5€ per person. FREE entry for children under 120cm height and Cape Verdean nationals and immigrants with a valid ID Card.
If you swim in the salty waters and would like to shower afterwards, you will also need to pay an extra 1€ for the shower (highly recommended).
Located on the northeastern coast of the island near the village of Pedra de Lume, “Baia da Parda” (better known as “Shark Bay”) is the only place on the island where you can see lemon sharks from the shore while they are swimming in their natural habitat.
The shark bay is a lagoon with the lava rocks at the bottom, which makes it the perfect spot for lemon sharks hunting for food. Because of the shallow water, the tide of the ocean makes the place different every few hours and can make it easier to see the sharks depending on the level of the water.
In order to enter to see the sharks, it’s recommended to wear shoes (any type of shoes except flip flops). If needed, you can rent shoes directly from local on-site vendors which cost on average roughly 2/3€ per person.
If you are not on a guided tour, you can typically give a small tip to one of the vendors and they will come with you into the water to explain a little bit about the sharks.
Located on the southeastern shore of the island, Costa de Fragata is the longest beach of Sal with a length of 4.7kms. Due to the huge dimensions, Costa de Fragata is divided into three parts: Ponta Jelonga, Cabeça de Salina and Kite Beach. “Kite Beach” is the most famous of these and is the name that the people commonly use to refer to Costa de Fragata.
The name, as you can easily imagine, comes from the kite surfers that frequent the beach for the direction of the wind that blows toward the island. The wind direction makes Costa de Fragata the most ideal beach of the island for kite surfing.
There are two kite schools as well. The oldest one, “Mitu & Djo Kite School Cabo Verde”, is owned by two local kite surfers, one of which was the first Cape Verdean World Champion of Kite Surfing.
In addition to kite surfing, Costa de Fragata is also important because it is one of the main nesting beaches for loggerhead sea turtles that come to Cape Verde every summer from June to November to lay their eggs.
“Mitu & Djo Kite School” is not only a Kite School but there is also a restaurant, restrooms, sun beds, and a kids play area. The school is only open during winter months, typically from November until May.
During the summer they host the volunteers of Project Biodiversity who set up camp to patrol the beaches to protect the threatened loggerhead sea turtles.
Located on the southeast of the island near the beach, the Serra Negra Viewpoint is placed on top of the Serra Negra Mountain and is accessible with any off-road vehicle where you can enjoy views of the entire southern portion of Sal and see as far as nearby Boa Vista Island when the sky is clear.
Located on the center of the island, Palha Verde is the second biggest Oasis of Sal.
Palha Verde is mainly composed of palm trees and white sand. Inside of the Oasis, you can find some rural houses of local families living there.
Located on the southwest coast of the island, Ponta Preta it’s the most beautiful beach of Sal. The name in English means “Black Point” because of the black rocks located beneath the white sand.
Ponta Preta Beach changes quite drastically from season to season based on the ocean tides. Typically, during summer. there are no waves on this side of the island. The sand accumulates on the beach making the shore grow larger day after day.
In contrast, during winter months big waves often crash upon the beach which wash away much of the sand and make the beach up to 50 meters smaller than in summer time.
While Ponta Preta is not an ideal beach for beginner kite surfers, it is an amazing spot for experts. This is why for the last several years in February this beach has hosted the first step of the World Championship of Kite Surfing.
The village of Santa Maria was founded in 1830 for production and exportation of salt.
As for the salt mines of Pedra de Lume, most of the salt was exported to Brazil until 1887 when the Brazilian government decided to banish the importation of salt to improve the national production.
The salt production in Santa Maria suffered a big crisis until 1920 when a Portuguese investor revived it and, in 1927, started the exportation to the Belgian Congo.
In 1961 the salt flats were nationalized and were operative until 1984 when the salt production started to decline and then stopped. After the end of the production, the salt mines were given to the local families of Santa Maria.
Most of the salt mines are now completely covered with hotels and houses built on top, but you can still see some of them on the northeast side of Santa Maria where some local people are still producing salt for an in-island use.
Located on the southeastern coast of the Island, Serra Negra is one of the two natural reserves of Sal.
Serra Negra is the primary nesting beach for Sal’s threatened sea turtles. The native loggerhead sea turtles are extremely sensitive to light pollution which can disturb their nesting habits and cause them to lose their way back to the ocean. Serra Negra Beach provides an ideal and safe nesting area due to the shade provided by the adjacent mountain.
On top of the homonymous natural reserve, the Serra Negra Panorama point is the highest place on the south of Sal Island.
From there you have an amazing view of most of the Island including the beach of Serra Negra, Kite Beach, Santa Maria and even Murdeira and the Lion Mountain on the opposite coast.
On the top of Serra Negra, there is also the departure of the Zipline Cabo Verde.
Located on the west coast of the island, Murdeira Bay (Baia da Murdeira) is one of the two natural reserves of Sal and owes its name to the village of Murdeira which lies upon its shore.
With the surrounding land and Lion Mountain protecting it from heavy currents, Murdeira Bay is a natural port with very few waves and slightly warmer waters than other parts of the island.
These conditions make Murdeira Bay a perfect place for the sea animals to reproduce, like the loggerhead sea turtles (between May and October) and whales (between March and May).
In Murdeira Bay, you can experence great views of Lion Mountain (Monte Leão). Originally named “Rabo de Junco”, its name eventually changed to “Monte Leão” because its shape resembles the head of a lion.