Sal Island

What To Do?

  • Island Tour
  • Boat excursions
  • Bathing
  • Shark watching
  • Turtle watching
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Windsurfing
  • Kite-surfing

What To See?

  • Buracona
  • Salinas de Pedra Lume
  • Santa Maria’s Beach
  • Porto de Palmeira – Salt purification plant
  • Algadoeira
  • Fontona

Sal Trips

Get Inspired


The island is 35 km long by 12 km wide. It is one of the three sandy eastern islands (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) of the archipelago, with white sandy beaches and fairly flat. The highest elevation of 408 m, at Monte Grande. Serra Negra has a height of 92 m.

Sal Island has on average 350 days of sunshine a year. Winds mainly blow from the northeast. However,some days do also have clouds, but they tend to be scattered and seldom bring rain. The ‘rainy season’ is from July to mid-October, although rainfall is still low.

As of 1832, the population was estimated at 400 people. The population reached 1,000 around the early 20th century.
Once the leastly populated island of the nine inhabited, the population started growing moderately and it more than doubled between 1950 and 1960.

The island population is now around 40,000 and is now the fifth most populated island in Cape Verde.

Sal’s main town, Cidade dos Espargos, is home to one of the nation’s international airports and has around 32,000 inhabitants. Its population grew around salt collection and later shifted to fishing, but is now based on tourism (amounting to 50% of the archipelago’s tourism) at the beach resort of Santa Maria.
The living standards on the island are among the best in the Cape Verde archipelago.

Saline marshes can be found in the Pedra de Lume crater and north of Santa Maria.

Pedra de Lume, on the eastern coast, is the most ancient, and the home of the first salt workers. Today it is only a small village with few inhabitants.

Palmeira is a fishing village, built around the only port of the island, situated on the opposite coast of the island. It is also a small village but it is growing.

Espargos is the main urban center and is situated between Pedra de Lume and Palmeira. It was formed around the international airport named after Amílcar Cabral, located in the heart of the island. It is also the capital of the Island.

Terra Boa is the only place on the island where agriculture can be found on a large scale, as the island is very dry, mainly because it has no mountains to induce rainfall. This place is situated around 6 kilometres north of Espargos.

Santa Maria, which was a former salt working village, is now the tourism center of the island. There you can find one of the most beautiful beaches of Cape Verde and Duns. Santa Maria is the main attraction and is growing fast.

A part of the population growth, even to the present day, continues to arrive from São Nicolau. Farmlands were established around 2 km northwest of Espargos in the mid 20th century. A new solar electricity station was established in around 2010 and located 1.5 km north of Santa Maria on the main road, the first and only in Cape Verde.


Sal, Portuguese for “salt” — from the mines at Pedra de Lume, is an island of the Barlavento Group in Cape Verde.
The island is home to Amílcar Cabral International Airport, one of the main airports of Cape Verde.
The island was discovered on December 3, 1460 and named Llana until salt deposits were found at the end of the 18th century in Pedra de Lume. Sal is the geologically oldest island in Cape Verde, formed 50 million years ago during the eruption of a volcano which is now inactive.

Sal was an uninhabited island until around 1800. Two lighthouses were constructed at the island’s extreme points in the 1880s. Santa Maria was founded in the south in 1830 and became the island capital.
The salt industry thrived, most of the salt being exported to Brazil until its nationalization in 1887. Portuguese and French salt investors resumed salt production until 1984.
An airport, first constructed by Italy, started construction in 1939 to receive flights from and to Europe and South America. Its construction was halted around 1940 during World War II and continuation ceased.

The Portuguese bought the airport from the Italians and finished the rest in 1949. Planes from Italy would offer a stopover flight for refueling planes with flights destined to the South American cities.
The airport was also used as a refuelling base by South African Airways on its Johannesburg to London routes. This was necessary due to the refusal of Black African states to the North to grant overflying permission and direct routing to and from Europe during apartheid. Later, flights to and from New York and Atlanta also refuelled there and the island became a crew-change station.
SAA established the long runways needed by the fully fueled Boeing 747s on their take-offs in the high temperatures. On July 1, 2006, SAA operated its final flight to Sal due to the ending of its flights to Atlanta.

Northeast of the airport, workers from São Nicolau would settle a village which was named Preguiça, where the first settlers originated and the youngest urban center in Cape Verde, Palmeira was later founded and became the island’s other port.

Not long after it became Espargos due to the asparagus plants founded there and became the main island capital as well as a commercial center.

In the late summer of 2015 Hurricane Fred struck the island, but the damages were fairly small.

“Geography” and “History” source: Sal, Cape Verde. (2016, December 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:35, February 18, 2017, from,_Cape_Verde&oldid=753514874