Sal has a population of around 20,000 inhabitants, the majority located in the island’s commercial and administrative centre, Espargos.
Sal is the perfect destination for beach holidays, with an average rainfall of just 8cm a year. As such it is developing at a rapid pace, with new buildings springing up all over the tourist resort of Santa Maria on the island’s south coast.
There are also a number of large resort developments planned for the west coast of the island from Santa Maria up to Murdeira town.
The bay of Santa Maria is where most of the current tourist activity is conducted. It’s the perfect place for diving, fishing, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, or just relaxing on the beach. Santa Maria was founded in 1830 around the time that there was a large salt exportation and production industry.
Sal is the most touristic of all the Cape Verde islands. It is quite a barren island and is the flattest of all the Cape Verde islands. Sal takes it's name from the now inactive salt mines. You can still see the original salt pans that lie directly to the north of the town, a reminder of it’s distant origins.
Ponta Preta is a beautiful beach with a rocky point, located on the westcoast north of the RIU hotel,jutting out into the Atlantic. Host to this year’s worldcup windsurfing event, this is the place to come to watch some of the most challenging windsurfing,kitesurfing and surfing Cape Verde has to offer.
Calheta Funda is a small, calm bay located further up the coast towards Murdeira town. Accessed by a small dusty road, this is a perfect spot for a picnic, and is frequented by local families in summer for walking and camping, as well as being a turtle spawning area.
Palmeira, located on the coast directly to the west of Espargos, was originally a fishing village. Today, it houses the islands main power station and desalination plant, as well as serving as a deportation and storage centre for the future industrial development on Sal. There is a quaint harbour, and some great traditional restaurants serving fresh seafood.
Several kilometres north of Palmeira, Buracona is best accessed by jeep. It is a deep water lagoon, famed for it’s fishing and diving, and as such has also become a protected site. Take care walking near to the water’s edge during the winter months as the swell and undertow can be very strong.
Located on the east coast, Pedra De Lume is the oldest village on Sal. You can still see the 19th century chapel, the old warehouses and the milling and sacking apparatus used to pack and trasport the salt. The saline itself is located in the crater of an old volcano, accessed via an artificial tunnel. The site is now protected and is one of the best places on the island for bird-watching.
Because of Sal's tourists, there is no lack of places to eat and drink. There are plenty of bars and restaurants - some hosting live local music.