A winter getaway to Cape Verde

On Tuesday evening we touched down in the UK following a family holiday on the island of Sal in Cape Verde. Going away at this time of year has become somewhat of a tradition for us, as Mr M’s work is a lot quieter than during the summer months, and personally I love escaping that whole ‘back to reality’ period which follows the Christmas and New Year festivities.

I hadn’t heard all that much about Cape Verde before we booked, only that it’s a good place for some winter sun, which was exactly what we were after. It’s a fairly untouched region and is mostly made up of large all-inclusive resorts – the population of Sal is just 35,000 and there isn’t a whole lot of places to explore (the island is only 21 miles long). So to be honest, it’s exactly the opposite to the kind of holiday we normally go for, but with Taylor now one, we were after somewhere that would be easy and fairly hassle-free.

Melia Dunas hotel in Cape VerdeMelia Dunas hotel and beach resortI haven’t stayed in an all-inclusive resort since I was a teenager, so I was looking forward to the experience. We (I of course) decided on the Melia Dunas, a short ride out of the town of Santa Maria. As with a lot of resorts in Cape Verde it’s very new (been open for one year), which had its benefits, but also a couple of downsides. The benefits were the modern, comfortable rooms, the pristine pool and beach areas, and the ample facilities. On the downside, the service was below the level you’d expect for a 5* and I think the resort was understaffed for its sheer size. Unfortunately they didn’t have a travel cot for us on arrival (they’d made up a sofa bed for Taylor!) and we had to ask 4 times and wait until 11pm for one to arrive. The A La Carte restaurants (of which there are four) were also all booked up until our final two nights so we had to eat in the buffet every night until that which did get a little repetitive and wasn’t outstanding. There was also nowhere to get food between 5pm – 6.30, which was a little inconvenient on some days with a little one.

But now this is starting to sound like a Trip Advisor review…so on to our experience!

The climate was exactly as we would’ve asked – hot enough for shorts and bikinis, but with a nice breeze so we weren’t left sweltering, or worried about Taylor overheating. It was lovely to spend some quality time together as a family of three which we haven’t done much of since Taylor was born. We were lucky enough to take Taylor abroad twice last year, but this time it really felt like she was old enough to be a part of the experience, discovering new activities, enjoying new foods and meeting lots of new people. On the downside, she is also a lot more independent now and refused to nap in the day times, which resulted in a very grumpy baby on some days. Pushing the buggy around the pools became a regular daily activity – only for us to give up an hour later, baby still awake. Not hungry. Not thirsty. Not going to sleep. But grumpy.

family holiday

IMG_0354But it certainly wasn’t always like that and we did manage to have lots of fun with her in the pool – she absolutely loved going down the slide with Dadda and was fascinated by the jets in the baby pool. In contrast, she absolutely hated the sea and despite our best efforts, we couldn’t get her to stop howling whenever we took her near it. Did I mention we were after a relaxing holiday when we chose Cape Verde?

Mr M and I did get to spend some great evenings together whilst Taylor slept in her buggy – we had an ongoing tally of card games (wild!) which to my distress ended with me being two down on the final night. It’s funny how you go from wanting to find the best bars and dance the nights away in your twenties, to just being content enjoying a game of cards and the chance to have ‘decent conversation’ with your other half once you have kids.

One of the highlights of the holiday was the island tour which was by truck. We had our own private car and tour guide (we didn’t book it as private, but nobody else booked on the same day!) We got to visit the colourful towns of the island, swim in the salt lakes and photograph lemon sharks off the coast. When you leave the hotel it really strikes you how unpopulated the island is and how little Cape Verde has been developed – something you don’t really see much of in the world today. At times I felt as though I’d gone back in time, before mankind descended.

salt lakes in Sal, Cape Verde

Salt lakes where you can swim – apparently making you look 10 years younger…

Town of Espargos Cape Verde

View of Espargos

Island tour around Sal

Taylor having fun with our guide

Blue Eye Sal, Cape Verde

The towns however are very colourful, Santa Maria the main tourist attraction with its colurful buildings, cobbled streets, a handful of lively restaurants and bars, and a beautiful beach. I think if we ever return to Cape Verde we will stay in one of the hotels situated on the Santa Maria beach front.

I’m not sure if I’m a little odd, but I always find that by the end of a holiday I’m ready to get home. We had a lovely time, but now I feel revived and raring to take on the year ahead.


A Cornish Mum
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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21 Comment

  1. Chloe
    January 14, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Oh wow this looks so beautiful and warm!! I’m looking to book a last minute holiday for January and everywhere that I was looking at booking is going to be cold and rainy in the next fortnight (Greece, Portugal, Morocco…). I love your review of this place. I might look into flights. I am so, so desperate for some winter sun. We fast tracked Evie her first passport on Monday and it arrived today which is crazy fast. That’s how desperate I am for a holiday haha. It sounds like you had a beautiful time. I’ve never heard of this place before. Was it ok flying with Taylor? (Also if you have any other winter sun suggestions, feel free to throw them my way haha). xx

    1. Mum in Brum
      January 20, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Haha, you do sound like you need some warmth! you should definitely consider Cape Verde if it’s winter sun you’re after – the climate was perfect and about 27 every day.There’s not much going on as it’s a fairly new destination but I’d recommend Santa Maria in Sal if you want a little bit of activity. The beach is incredible there too. Taylor was okay on the plane, a little grumpy on the way out but we just kept feeding her nibbles! Coming back she was sleepy and slept a lot which was perfect. I think Tennerife is also pretty nice at this time and that’s a four hour flight (Cape Verde is 6). Good luck with your searching, hope you find somewhere xx

  2. Nicky Kentisbeer
    January 17, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Ooh am interested in this as I have heard mixed reviews. We are looking for somewhere cheapish for half term (ie I don’t really want to pay £2,500 for a week in Tenerife)? I may be delusional and it costs 10 times that but thought it worth an ask. Is it doable in a week with the journey? Nicky #KCACOLS

    1. Mum in Brum
      January 20, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      I’m not sure about half term but I think it cost us around £1800 all inclusive for the week. There are probably other hotels that are better value to be honest too and the climate was perfect for us. I’d definitely give it a go and have a look around the Santa Maria area in Sal where there’s a little more going on. x

      1. Nicky Kentisbeer
        January 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm

        I tried – It’s about 3 times that for the half-term week. Such a staggering contrast. Go as many times and everywhere you possibly can before you have to do the school hols. Nx
        Nicky Kentisbeer recently posted…What’s In The Box?My Profile

  3. Debbie Johnson
    January 17, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve always fancied going to Cape Verde but some reviews on trip advisor put me off, plauged with flies constantly and, the food wasn’t that nice and you had to wait for long periods of time to get served or anything done as the pace is so slow the staff work at half asleep pace lol

  4. Mommy's Little Princesses
    January 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Oh my how gorgeously inviting does that pool look. It looks and sounds like you all had a lovely time despite a few hiccups *if you can call them that*. Did you end up taking a dip in the salt lakes? Love the pictures!xx #KCACOLS
    Mommy’s Little Princesses recently posted…A Fairy play date with Princess Holly -13/01/16My Profile

  5. Jess Powell (Babi a Fi)
    January 17, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    It looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m jealous – howling and all ;D #KCACOLS
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…This Week #18My Profile

  6. Clare
    January 17, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Sounds fab! I have always been interested in Cape Verde, but the newness of it makes me a little apprehensive! But the cost makes me think otherwise. Now I have three children, holidays can get extremely expensive! Glad you had a nice break! 🙂 I need a holiday! (That is said in the whiniest vice you can imagine!) xx

    1. Mum in Brum
      January 20, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      I was a little apprehensive too, but to be honest if it’s a nice hotel and some fun for the kids you’re after (and sun for you!) it’s a great shout for this time of year. They are very relaxed (ahem lazy) which did sometimes get a bit frustrating and I think that’s due to it being a fairly new tourist destination. But the all-inclusive aspect and climate was great for kids. xx

  7. Coombe Mill - Fiona Cambouropoulos
    January 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Isn’t that what we all dream about on blue Monday? a bit of sunshine and family fun. what a great winter break this looks with plenty of lovely outdoor fun so easy to achieve. The tour looks great. #marvmondays

  8. Julie Downes
    January 18, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Looks like a fab holiday in the sun. Pool looks amazing! #KCACOLS
    Julie Downes recently posted…5 fab things this week #28My Profile

  9. Claire at Tin Box Traveller
    January 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    I love the idea of a winter sun getaway. We did a few UK breaks at this time of year before kids and it was such a lovely way to come down from the whole Christmas and New Year experience. I’m glad you had a good time X #KCACOLS
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Devon beach walk #1: Strete GateMy Profile

  10. Kaye
    January 18, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Gosh, it looks beautiful, looks like you all had such an amazing time. We really need to bite the bullet and holiday abroad again (I’ve had the fear since little A came along of travelling with young kids), I remember the days Mr J and I woukd play card games every night, loved it! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

  11. mummyandmonkeys
    January 19, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Oh I’m so jealous, I’m really craving some sun. I’ve heard of Cape Verde but never been, it looks lovely! Love the sand shot. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix
    mummyandmonkeys recently posted…To the Mum …. You are a good MumMy Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      January 20, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      It was so nice to getaway and escape the January blues! I’m always equally as happy to get home though, which is a nice feeling…It was nice to get Taylor back into her routine 🙂

  12. Maria
    January 19, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Ahh looks like you all had a wonderful time. I’ve never thought about a getaway in Cape Verde before but winter sun just after Christmas sounds like a great idea! Make the most of it now before you’re tied to school holidays!

    Thanks so much for linking up to #KCACOLS, I hope to see you back again on Sunday!
    Maria recently posted…A Note From the Nursery Bear…My Profile

    1. Mum in Brum
      January 20, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      Good point Maria! It is lovely to get away at this time of year and I forget that we won’t be able to do it in a couple of years…

  13. A Cornish Mum
    January 21, 2016 at 9:12 am

    This looks amazing despite the few hiccups! Beautiful photos. I could so do with some winter sun right now 🙂

    Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix
    Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…The Importance of Good Credit KnowledgeMy Profile

  14. […] times. And yes, it does have its challenges. But when I think back to the times we’ve been on holidays abroad with Taylor, I wouldn’t say they were exactly relaxing experiences, and they left us wondering if it had […]

  15. […] know that going on holiday with young children is often not the most relaxing of experiences. When we went to Cape Verde earlier this year when Taylor was 12 months old, relaxing moments were admittedly few and far […]

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