Ten small islands scattered across the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa make up the Republic of Cape Verde. Nine of the islands are inhabited and each one is distinctly different with its own character and attractions.
Sal is the main island for tourism and most visitors to Cape Verde will arrive at the international airport there. A 20-minute drive south takes you to Santa Maria, where you will find a magnificent beach of fine white sand stretching the length of the coast and sea a glorious shade of turquoise.
Hotels, all-inclusive resorts and self-catering apartments line the bay, surrounded by flower-filled gardens. All have sparkling pools and offer an array of water sports, sailing and fishing trips.
Santa Maria is little more than a straggling village but is very laid back. There are a collection of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The island itself is very arid and barren and has few highlights.
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