Resort Guide: Cape Verde, Cape Verde

the spots

 

Note: Some of the names of spots vary, and often have more than one name like “Salinas”. The beach at the east end of the bay where Planet Windsurf is situated doesn’t have a name and is often described as “Albatross” because of the hotel behind. But as that has now changed its name and, anyhow, is not very visible from the beach I have given the Leme Bedje hotel as a landmark.

 

santa maria

 

The main windsurfing area on Sal is at the southern end of the island at the small fishing town of Santa Maria. The bay here has a fine-grained, white sandy beach stretching for some 4km with general wind direction of left cross-off offering great windsurfing conditions from October to June, and includes the following spots:

 

Leme Bedje

 

This is the beach east of the twon in front of Leme Bedje hotel. Great spot to sail with the wind being left cross-off to crossshore. The wind is a bit messed up in front of the beach here because of the new buildings behind, but cleans up thirty or so metres offshore and is cleaner also as you sail up towards Ponta Leme. Depending on the swell this spot can be flat, or have waves from a foot to boom high wrapping around onto the beach. The waves, however, require a little work to make the most of them. It is advisable to use a slightly larger sail, than you might use sailing on the outside, for attacking these waves due to the gusty conditions. Watch some of the local guys make the waves look easy, like Sidnei, as he goita’s or 360’s off-the-lip, if you’re in need of a bit of inspiration.

Beach direction: S to SW.
Best wind direction: The NE trade wind blows left cross-off to cross shore here.

Worst wind direction: East is sailable but choppy.

What’s on the bottom: Mostly sand, but there are some rocks to deal with here as you launch.
Any hazards: Watch out for two buoys approximately thirty metres offshore and a rocky outcrop to the right, but not a real problem.
Other water users: Bathers and the odd snorkeler. Never gets too busy with windsurfers, as there is a large sailing area and few kiters sail from this beach.

Suitability/levels: Beginner – intermediate plus.

Wipeout factor: Perfect for beginners, when flat. Most of the centres here do provide a shorebreak service when it gets bigger and will sail your kit out beyond the break for you if required. When the waves are working they break far enough off the beach to get a few good bottom turns with minimum wipeout risk. Not a tricky spot.

 

Mistral Centre

 

Sandy, rock-free beach great for beginners and blasting. Can get choppy at times when the wind is blowing more E and most prefer to sail upwind towards Ponta Leme Velho for the waves and freestyle/blasting conditions in cleaner wind, or towards Ponta do Sino for the waves there.

Beach direction: SE
Best wind direction: The NE trade wind blows left cross-off to sideshore here, although it can be gusty for the first 200m due to the proximity of the town behind.
Worst wind direction: North through to East will work but choppy.
What’s on the bottom: Sand.
Any hazards: The shorebreak can get quite gnarly and mast snapping when there is a big swell, and if hiring from a centre they will not let you out. On the smaller days they will provide a shorebreak service. The beach however is sandier here with almost no pesky rocks to stub your toes on.
Other water users: The official kite surf zone is located a little further upwind here. Lots of other beach users and people swimming in the water.
Suitability/levels: Beginner to freerider.
Wipeout factor: Reasonably safe spot to sail with rescue cover.

 

Ponta do Leme Velho

 

Where the beach ends to the left of Leme Bedje, the shoreline is boulders, with only one small bay as an exception, right through to Ponta Leme. From the beach you can sail upwind to Ponta Leme (usually just one or two tacks required) for the point break when the swell is up. You can also head outside beyond the point where there are often a few good ramps for jumping. When the waves work the swell is, in general, wind-generated but wraps around the point running perpendicular with the shore, creating waves of up to 2.5m. The wave is not long, being a point break. In order to get the best from the wave you have to cut in pretty close to the rocks, so keep an eye out for any submersed boulders. Here you can score a couple of nice bottom turns with some decent lips. Stick with the wave as it often reforms fifty metres further on, although again, you need to be tight into the rocks to make the most of it. Alternatively when there is less swell this area is excellent for its blasting and freestyle potential. The water state gets choppier the further off the shoreline you sail, but is still flat for the first 200-300 metres.

Beach direction: Rocky shore, S to SW.
Best wind direction: The NE trade wind blows, left cross offshore to offshore here, stronger and more consistently than from the beach due to the flat, open terrain behind.
Worst wind direction: All others.
What’s on the bottom: Rocks probably, but not relevant as a point break.
Any hazards: Watch out for submersed boulders when bottom turning close to the shore and the returning fishing boats.
Other water users: It can get a bit busy with sailors trying to get in close to the point break to score a wave. You need to be checking your position with regards to the rocks and then other sailors dropping in as you begin your bottom turn. Kite surfers are becoming more frequent, also wanting some wave action.
Suitability/levels: Intermediate plus for the waves, and beginner onwards for the freeriding.
Wipeout factor: Don’t get too absorbed with chasing the wave along the shoreline back to the beach. Keep an eye out, because just beyond halfway back to the beach the wave starts to wrap into the shoreline - to finally become parallel with the beach - so that you may find yourself with no exit and a visit to the rocks. It’s no fun getting washed on the rocks as they are large and slippery and prove difficult to get off unless with help from someone standing by. (See video) A visit here usually results in broken/scuffed kit. Kitesurfers have been known to help windsurfers by towing them off the rocks so don’t get too impatient with them for sailing the same spot.

 

Kite Beach

 

Don’t get freaked by the name. No, not kite beach, but shark bay. Get a pickup to this location, which is on the north east side of Santa Maria and costs about 1000$. The best spot to start is at the northern end of the bay just in front of the house on the beach. Even on a small day, when there is little swell at Ponta Leme, there can be some fun-sized waves that are great for port tack jumping and reasonable starboard tack riding that break fifty metres from the shore over the reef. Either arrange for the pick up to return at a set time or you can sail back to Ponte Leme (a few km), as there can be better waves downwind. Good spot also for kiters although they sail further downwind so there is no conflict.

Beach direction: ENE through to ESE
Best wind direction: The NE trade wind is clean here and blows left cross-on to cross-shore, and can be a little stronger as it accelerates around the Sierra Negra Mountain.
Worst wind direction: All others.
What’s on the bottom: Although the beach is sandy, there is exposed reef where the waterline starts so you will need to walk your kit out the first twenty metres until you can safely launch. Beware, as there are some very sharp ‘pinnacle’ bits of reef. The reef gets less the further south you move down the bay.
Any hazards: Don’t try getting to this spot in a hire car as you will get stuck in the dunes. Don’t take cameras, money, etc, unless you have someone on the beach to look after the stuff. Don’t pay for the pickup until you’ve returned, otherwise they may not come back to collect you.
Other water users: At this end of the bay there will probably be only those of you who took a pickup to the spot. Further down the bay is where the kite surfers generally sail so not a problem.
Suitability/levels: Intermediate plus.
Wipeout factor: Easy waves with very little rip, but losing your kit may mean getting it scuffed on those spiky bits of reef if washed onto the beach. No rescue cover.

west of Santa maria

 

Porto do Sino

 

This spot is at the far end of the bay, west of Santa Maria. Either sail the two kms downwind from Leme Bedje (depending where you’re staying) and get a pickup back, or you can sail it back. Get some starboard tack wave riding in front of the luxury yacht that ran aground and foundered here a few years ago. Shorebreak can be a bit dumpy.

Beach direction: SE
Best wind direction: The NE trade wind is clean here, and blows left cross shore to cross-on and cross-off.
Worst wind direction: All others.
What’s on the bottom: Rocks, sand and a very large yacht.
Any hazards: There is a bit of a rip here and of course the rocks.
Other water users: Hardly ever gets busy.
Suitability/levels: Intermediate+
Wipeout factor: Not a difficult spot to sail with easy waves. No rescue cover.

 

Ponto do Preta

This spot is 1 km further on from Ponta do Sino. Surprised to find this spot introduced as a speed run or great for freestyle. When many of the other spots on the east and south coast are firing, Ponta Preta can be as flat as, and fun for blasting when other spots become too intimidating.

But forget flat water, what PP is all about is big waves. Ponta Preta offers the challenge of world-class waves and is the backyard of Josh Angulo, 2003 PWA world champion, and other regular visitors like Bjorn Dunkerbeck. The waves here are truly awesome and start to break a few hundred metres out from the black rocks and roll clean and hollow over a length of 300 metres until they hit the white sandy beach in the bay. These waves are definitely for those that know what they are doing. They are big and powerful and can easily reach 5m!! The cost of any mistakes is high. The rocks are sharp and gnarly and it may not be just your kit that pays. The wind can often be light and gusty adding to the difficulty factor. If this spot is beyond your limit you at least have to come and watch the pros ripping it up. The best direction for swell is N-NW, while any swell from the west produces faster waves. Swell needs to be minimum 1.5/2m for it to work here otherwise it’s flat. Get a pickup to this spot.

Beach direction: W-WSW
Best wind direction: The NE trade wind blows right cross-offshore to offshore and sometimes cross shore.
Worst wind direction: All others.
What’s on the bottom: Sand and rocks.
Any hazards: Rocks: sharp and gnarly. Sharks?
Other water users: When PP is working it can get busy with surfers, body boarders, and the occasional kitesurfer… respect the line up.
Suitability/levels: The very confident to expert.
Wipeout factor: The highest. No big wave comes without some cost of getting it wrong. Here you will have to deal with some serious wave pounding then deal with some very nasty rocks. The shore dump in the bay can be considerable. No rescue cover.

 

Rife da Tartarugas and Calheta Funda

These two spots are quite close to each other where the wind blows right cross-off to cross shore and are port tack wave riding locations. Take a pickup (should be no more than 2000$). These spots can be reached from the road leaving Santa Maria on the way to the airport. After about 11 km you will see a sign on the left pointing to Calheta Funda. This dirt road will take you to the small sanded beach at the southern end of Baia da Murdeira, with Monte Leão dominating the background. This is not a beginners spot, and requires some skill when big. The waves can reach three metres and are fairly fast. This break only works when the swell is 1.2m or more. Swell has to be generally from the NW. There is a small launch area to the right of the beach, where there is an opening in the reef. There is a channel here through the waves with a fair amount of suck that accelerates you out. You need to land in the same spot. There are two waves here. The right-hand wave is easier to ride as you can use the channel to exit the wave after two or three bottom turns. However, the left-hand wave will give you by far the better ride with the possibility of a two/three hundred metre, and more, ride with some good aerials. Choose the largest set as these will peak further out, and be ready to exit off the back once you’ve finished your ride. The whole shoreline is rocky and reefy and not a place you want to get washed. Highly recommended spot with great waves.

Beach direction: NW
Best wind direction: The NE trade wind blows right cross shore to cross-offshore.
Worst wind direction: All others.
What’s on the bottom: Sand, rocks and reef.
Any hazards: Reef, reef and reef! Again, don’t take cameras, money, etc, unless you have someone on the beach to look after the stuff. Don’t pay for the pickup until you’ve returned, otherwise they may not come back to collect you.
Other water users: None. These spots rarely get busy.
Suitability/levels: Intermediate plus although it can be a demanding wave location because you don’t want to get washed into the reefy shore.
Wipeout factor: Quite big because of that reefy shoreline. If you don’t get off the wave in time you’ll end up in the next bay with a walk back and scuffed kit. However there is a bit of a suck back that can hold you off and give you those few precious extra seconds to recover the rig and head back out. No rescue cover.

 

If you fancy some pioneering type sailing there are certainly a few other spots, secret and otherwise, on the island. One secret spot is said to be larger than Punta Preta. It was certainly as big as PP the day we looked at it, but you will have to investigate these for yourself.