Sal is a small island with a big reputation. Its main draws are the yin and yang of holidaying – relaxation and adrenaline-pumping activities. Whether you want to laze on sunkissed beaches or zoom across desert landscapes, you’re in Iuck – because that’s what Sal is all about. Top activities include off-road safaris, catamaran cruises and wildlife experiences. Plus, there’s a wide range of guided tours taking in the island’s most picturesque spots such as Murdeira Bay, the Buracona lagoon, Pedra de Lume salt flats and the sands of Terra Boa.
Top six things to do in Sal
1. Uncover the unusual landscapes
The Dead Sea-like Pedra da Lume salt flats are a feast for the senses. After admiring the pink hues of the evaporating waters, you can float in them for a natural spa treatment. Meanwhile, the Buracona lagoon is famed for the ‘eye’ that shimmers on its surface at certain times. Then there are the sands of Terra Boa, which often give off a mirage effect. Many popular excursions in Sal take you to these highlights.
2. Rumble off-road
Sal’s level interior and wave-washed beaches are ideal for an off-road safari. Take a back seat and take in the views in a 4x4 or take the wheel and zip through trails in a buggy or a quad bike. Most organised tours include stops at top sights such as the Pedra da Lume salt flats and Buracona lagoon. But if you fancy a more laidback experience, there are e-bike and electric scooter tours as well.
3. Lemon shark experience
Off the coast of Sal, you can scuba dive, snorkel and even try your hand on a Bond-like jet ski. But if there’s one water activity that separates Sal from the crowd, it’s hanging out with its resident shiver of lemon sharks. Marine biologist-led tours take you to Shark Bay, where you can paddle in shallow waters as baby lemon sharks glide around you.
4. Go on a catamaran cruise
A holiday in Sal without a catamaran cruise is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. That’s because these boat trips are the island in a nutshell – laidback and scenic. They also offer a taste of the high life for a fraction of the cost you’d pay in other destinations. Many include open bars and buffet lunches as well as swimming and snorkelling stops in remote locations. Combined land and sea excursions and adult-only versions are also available.
5. Explore the colourful towns
If you like taking photos, then Sal’s three largest towns should be on your list. Thanks to their pastel-coloured homes, Espargos, Santa Maria and Palmeira all have a made-for-Instagram appeal. And while you’re in Santa Maria, a detour to its world-famous Kite Beach is a must. The sight of dozens of kite surfers in action is one of the island’s defining images.
6. Try the local food and drink
When in Sal, do as the Salenses do. And that’s feast on lobster. The Santa Maria seafront on the south of the island is dotted with restaurants offering lobster dishes that are as tasty as the views. Live music is often part of the experience. Grilled or stewed lobster is one of the island’s specialities for a reason. Speaking of stews, catchupa, which combines meat, beans, vegetables and spices, is another local favourite.