Islands with a Difference - Part 7 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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This is an Atlantic archipelago but with a Portuguese twist. It has an overall area of about 4, 000 sq km onto which it has a population of about 550, 000. Ten volcanic islands make up Cape Verde but most tourists see only one of them. Sal has an international airport, an awful lot of sand, plus the windsurfing’s good as well. However there is more to this Atlantic archipelago which is located just 570 km west of Senegal.
Santiago, the biggest island, has lush and craggy mountains which are good for walking. Its UNESCO listed Cidade Velha was the first city built by Europeans in the tropics and has impressive remains including a royal fortress and Pillory Square. São Vicente is the place to dip into Cape Verde’s musical heritage; visit the bars of its main town, Mindelo, to hear live morna and coladeira which is the area’s creole inflected music. Also certainly worth a ferry ride is Santo Antão, a geological wonder of high peaks, where villages teeter on verdant valley sides and seemingly everything grows from banana palms and pineapples to pines, carobs, eucalypts, dates and almonds.
Driving the old road from Porto Novo to Ribeira Grande will showcase the island’s rugged terrain. Photographers should seek out Vila das Pombas, where tiny pastel painted houses line the promenade against a backdrop of coconut palms. Cape Verde is sunny and warm year round with the rainy season being July to October. You can get charter flights fly direct from UK airports to Sal and Boa Vista which take 6 hrs or scheduled flights which require a change in Lisbon. Domestic flights let you hop between islands except for Santo Antão and Brava, which don’t have airports. Ferry services operate but can be irregular. However there is a daily ferry between São Vicente and Santo Antão which takes 55 mins.
You may think is strange to include this 2, 000 sq km island with its local population of 1 million. Is it holiday hell or explorer’s heaven?
The answer is Yes, Playa de las Américas is your common or garden holiday nightmare, and many parts of the largest Canary Island have been massacred by package resorts. However don’t dismiss all of Tenerife.
Get away from the south coast and you’ll discover a surprisingly varied and traditional island, where fiestas are preferred to discotheques and the land has been left to go wild. Perhaps wildest of the lot is 3, 718m Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak and the pinnacle of a weird, lunar and lava landscape that might see snow, even while tourists are baking on the beaches below. Tenerife has a myriad of microclimates which are best experienced via footpaths hacked by the Guanche, the original islanders. You should head to the northern valleys of Masca and Güímar for the best most impressive isolation.
Climate is good year round but is best in spring and autumn without the summer crowds. November can be rainy. Many airlines fly from the UK to Tenerife Sur airport, which is 20 km east of touristy Playa de las Américas.
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