If you’re going for a short trip and taking your own equipment, we would recommend hiring a car for the whole trip. This will ensure that you don’t miss any wave sailing opportunities when the swell is working away from Santa Maria. If you are staying long term and car rental is prohibitive you can still get pickups to all the main breaks, but you won’t have the freedom to do that windsurfer thing of checking out all the breaks and choosing the best one. And if the conditions aren’t working, you might find yourself sitting on a beach with no swell and 1000$ the poorer!
Because there is often a short transfer time at Lisbon your kit may well not make it until the following evening. Make sure you have transfer tags on your luggage or else take what you need for one night in your hand luggage.
If you plan to get your visa on arrival at Sal don’t wait in the line along with everyone else to be told twenty minutes later you need to go somewhere else for your visa – head straight to the visa office at the front, through the little door just to the left of the main queue.
SHARKS! Yes, they’re out there somewhere! But we heard very little mention of them while we were there, so I don’t think it’s a major concern.
Also: Electric Power is 220V running at 50Hz. The Plug type used is the round pin attachment plug.
Don’t drink the local water… drink only bottled water.
Take a phrase book as most menus are in Portuguese.
did we satisfy that yearning?
Much as we loved Cape Town, we went to Sal in search of a less hectically windy and less crowded venue, where we wouldn’t be changing location, because it had become blown out, and changing down sail size every two hours! Sam wanted some wave riding without being stupidly overpowered all the time. In terms of wind Sal definitely fulfilled this desire, there was rarely a day in Jan or Feb when we weren’t planing on the same sail all day. And crowded? Not really. There might have been about 40 sailors out at its busiest (Leme Bedje beach) but as the sailing is so spread out across the sailing areas you certainly were never fighting for somewhere to even gybe like at Big
Bay, in CT. Sal has been one of the most chilled places I’ve sailed for its lack of crowds. But in terms of waves, we would have liked some more wave action.
In reality, although the waves we had were great the NW swell only worked a couple of times in the time we were there and often when the swell was working the wind was a little light. That said, we had to leave early Feb and a long period of swell kicked in for about two weeks after. So that was just our bad luck. If we’d stayed to the end of Feb we would have felt differently. As it was we left with the feeling that we’d not quite had enough time in the waves. We’d certainly give it another shot but perhaps for a shorter trip and on the strength of a good forecast, in or around February, which definitely seems the best month for swell. But overall Sal has proved itself to be ideal for the wave hungry with some quality waves, as well as offering perfect blasting conditions from the beginner through to advanced. Other islands such as Boa Vista also boast excellent conditions for both wave riding and blasting, which certainly will be the subject of future visits.
Josie: I thought that the one beach that we stayed at [Leme Bedje] was great for all levels and was flat, although a little gusty for beginners. A little apprehensive about the fact it is virtually dead offshore and the first few days was worried about whether anyone would rescue me if need be. Once I got used to it, it was great.
Paul: From my point of view Sal was a great place to go somewhere a bit different, but still suitable for all levels. Especially liked being able to sail around with Josie and then pop off to the point for a couple of waves. Was nice sailing at the ‘remote’ spots with no one else around but it was so remote you do need to leave someone on the shore! Will definitely return, and I see it as one of those must go places, especially before it becomes overdeveloped.
Your long stay tourists were..
Stew and Sam of the Aqua Sports Company in Surrey.
Local beach in UK: Shoreham, Hayling.
Time sailing: 14 years and 11 years.
Last move cracked: back loop for Stewie, and monkey gybe for Sam.
What we’re working on: everything for Stewie, and back loops for Sam.
Your two-week tourists were…
Josie Gibson and Paul Gliddon, who currently live in Southampton.
Local beach in UK: Hill Head, Lepe, Boscombe.
Time sailing: 13 years for Paul, and 1 year for Josie.
Last move cracked: spock for Paul, and waterstart and gybe for Josie.
What we’re working on: everything for Paul, and forward loop for Josie!