The underwater world of Cape Verde is known worldwide for the variety and wealth. By the location of the archipelago and the influences of currents in the Atlantic Ocean and the tropical waters, Cape Verde has a unique diversity of marine life. Rays and schools of colorful fish swim around the old wrecks and reefs. Turtles and harmless sharks rest in caves. The Cape yellowtail fish swim between the diverse sort of coral. And during the season there are also swimming large species of animals such as dolphins and whales. With the alternation of shipwrecks, rock formations, coral reefs, caves and rock walls the underwater has a diver quite a lot to offer. The Cape Verde Islands have many dive sites and professional diving facilities are offered. Both beginners and more experienced divers can go to Cape Verde. Thanks partly to warm sea temperatures and the lack of a real rainy season, Cape Verde is a very good destination for a diving holiday.
Best time to dive?
A real rainy season does not exist in Cape Verde. Ideal for divers. If there is rain this is very limited. In the period from August to October, the chance of some rain is greatest (the amount is not much) compared to the other months in the year. The rain then has only a slight impact on the visibility of the water. Most diving it done on the islands of Sal and Boavista. Since there is less vegetation on these islands, there is less rain in this period than on the other islands. With sea temperatures between 23 and 27 degrees Celsius you can dive all year round. In short, diving may be fine in all months of the year and the most ultimate conditions are between the months of November and July.
When can I see which fish and reptiles?
If you have already seen many colorful fish, it is of course very nice to see a big fish or reptile of the outdoor category. Think of a turtle, a dolphin or a shark. From a small selection of animals we have indicated below when it is best opportunity to encounter them during a dive. Always ask the local diving centre for the best places to see these animals.
- Hammerhead (not dangerous): March to November;
- Whitetip reef shark (not dangerous): throughout the whole year;
- Nurse Shark (not dangerous): throughout the whole year;
- Ray: throughout the whole year except September to November. The best chance to see a ray is in the months of June to August;
- Whale: throughout the year. The best chance to see a whale is in February to May;
- Dolphin: throughout the whole year;
- Turtle: March to November.
The range of dive sites is very large. On the island of Sal for example, there are more than 20 official dive sites. There are many diving centers. In general, it takes a short boat ride to be within minutes at the desired diving destination. Given there are so many nice dive sites in Cape Verde, we have made a small selection of recommendations for dive sites on the most famous islands of Cape Verde, namely, Sal and Boavista. Recommended diving spots are:
Sal – Choclasse
The dive spot Choclasse is recommended. At about three kilometers off the coast of the famous village of Santa Maria on Sal is the dive site Choclasse. At a depth between 13 and 30 meter there is a large plateau with many yellow coral polyps and schools of fish. You can also go tuna, Atlantic sailfish or even see sharks swim.
Sal – Farol Baiox
A perfect place for a shallow dive where you can admire many schools of fish and unusual species. There is a small ship wreck and rocks and crevices filled with coral. This shelter is great for fish. In the abundant sea life you can see turtles, rays and many tropical fish.
Sal – Kwarcit ship wreck
A beautiful wreck dive, the Kwarcit, a Russian fishing boat of 50 meters long which was sunk in 2006 to create an artificial reef. The wreck lies at a depth of approximately 28 meters and is suitable for all levels of divers. You can find there lots of coral filled with schools of fish. And you might happty to see scorpion fish, lobsters, stingrays and other species of fish. Photographers can also enjoy themselves with beautiful flabellinas and fire worms.
Sal – Cavala
One kilometer off the coast of Santa Maria is the dive site Cavala. This is a place for more experienced divers with a depth of about 25 to 40 meters. At 30 meters is a special cave where you can see many rays hiding there. Additionally Cavala is a good place to watch the larger fish.
Sal – Trés Groutas
At a depth of nine meters is a small reef with three small caves. They are all rich with yellow coral polyps and soft corals. Swimming from one to another cave there are crevices with a rich variety of micro life.
Sal – Buracona
The most famous dive site of Sal is the Baracona cave (also known as the blue eye). After passing the entrance of the cave you get into some kind of cathedral at about 7 meters. The strong light and the space is very special, where you can experience a magnificent spectacle of light and shadow.
Sal – Santo Antao ship wreck
At only 11 meters deep isthis 45 meter long ship wreck. An old cargo ship sank off the coast in 1966. It is now in three parts on a sand bank and is accessible to every level of diver. Because of the small depth water, visibility can change significantly. At this dive site you can puffer fish, barracuda, stingrays, parrot and trumpet fish.
Boavista – Atlantida
From 9 meters deep is the Atlantida reef diving spot for divers of all levels. You will find amongst others lobsters, scorpion fish and moray eels that are hiding here in small caves. Cape yellowtail fish (yellowtail snappers), schools of sergeant majors and sea bream swimming over the reef and the steep reef. Experienced divers can descend further to 30 meters, where sometimes nurse sharks are resting.
Boavista – Shark bow
At a depth of 22 meters is the top of the reef. An opening in the reef at 25 meters depth brings you to a beautiful space where there are possible sand tiger sharks and large rays. In the reef and surrounding caves are sleeping large nurse sharks, turtles are swimming, large schools of sergeant marjors and tooth and perches. Perhaps you are also lucky to see a seriola (amberjack) swim by.
Boavista – Teliarte ship wreck
A perfect dive spot for the novice diver, this place is used mostly by student divers. At a depth of 10 meters this old fishing boat which is haunted by many fish. Part of the wreck is broken off and lies scattered about the seabed. Apart from the many fish you will also find many small marine animals such as snails, crabs and fire worms.
Boavista – Northern rocks
A favorite site of many divers at just 14 meters. North of Sal Rei is a small platform. Surrounded by a maze of rock formations you can admire a diverse marine life here. From diverse moray eels to sea eel. Colorful coral is quite magnificent.
Boavista – Bodega de Francoli
Near the northern tip of Sal Rei is the Bodega de Fran. At 14 meters depth at the bottom you will find large rocks and where there are often turtles, crabs and lobsters hide. On the sides of the rocks there is a beautiful big canyon. Here you will probably see pipefish (cornet fish) and various attracting fish (trigger fish) swimming. This dive site is very diverse and accessible for all levels.
Boavista – Channel
This dive site is from 10 meters to 18 meters and is located northeast of Sal Rei. As the name of this place suggests, the dive goes through a kind of tunnel or canal, where you can admire the rich marine life. It is very possible that you can also see a stingray and nurse shark. Good sea conditions are needed to make the most of this dive.
Boavista – Bodega de Tchoco
This dive site has a maximum depth of 14 meters andis a good place for both new and experienced divers. Ideal for a relaxing swim. From the sand you have a good view of the fish swimming by such as bream or large troughs. The reef with the rocks is even more interesting, as they provide shelter for moray eels, octopus, snails and other micro life.
Diving Facilities Cape Verde
The dive schools and facilities are nowadays expanding strongly in Cape Verde. On the most popular islands like Sal and Boavista, are very much professional facilities available. Other islands with diving facilities are: Santo Antao, Sao Nicolau, Sao Vicente, Maio and Santiago. At the dive school you can go for equipment, courses, organized diving trips and get the best advice about good dive sites. The diving facilities on the Cape Verde Islands are perfectly fine and of high quality.
E.A. Illingworth says
Anywhere in Cape Verde islands for elderly female diver requiring nitrox and private guide?
What are the best sites on Sal and Boa Vista if one member of the family wants to snorkel and not dive?
riu hotel spa
Hi. Are there any centers that offers nitrox. advanced nitrox and trimix diving ?
We do not know any centers that offers trimix / nitrox diving, however as this is a really specific question and we are no diving pro’s we would recommend you to contact some diving schools. Hope they can help you further.
Where is the nearest decompression chamber please?
There is decompression room at Centro Pro Atlantic located in Murdeira (Sal island).