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A catamaran cruise in Sal is one of the best Water Wellness activities on this beautiful island. Sail gracefully with the waves beneath you as you discover the defined coastline, the salty air surrounding you, allowing you to get lost in the very moment. Explore. Swim. Snorkel. Enjoy.
Cape Verde knows how to show off, and this is one of those very special ways.
Whether you book a catamaran cruise in Sal in advance or leave it last minute for when you visit, your experience will start from Santa Maria jetty. The meeting point is usually the beginning of the jetty where the excursion offices are located.
Any cruises or boat trips around Sal go via the jetty. This is the only way to go from a smaller vessel, to a larger one. Unless you fancy a long swim!
We’d been considering a catamaran excursion in Sal since we arrived, we just hadn’t got around to booking it online. As we were walking past the jetty one morning, we were asked if we wanted to board the next trip leaving in 10 minutes. If that wasn’t fate telling us to go out on the water, we’re not sure what is!
We excitedly confirmed to jump onboard the Oa Oa Timka catamaran – you can’t miss it moored on the water – it looks like a big green turtle. But it isn’t actually the biggest catamaran cruise available – it’s probably the smallest. This is one of the locally arranged cruises. There is another, larger cruise which can be booked online, in advance – great if you like to have things planned.
For this larger cruise, you can book an adults only half-day cruise, or a family friendly half-day cruise.
First impressions of the experience weren’t exactly luxurious. We were transported to Oa Oa Timka via a pretty weathered, battered wooden fishing vessel. It felt like this wasn’t what was planned, but either way, we had to go with it. Thankfully we made it safely over to our awaiting larger green vessel.
Get me on that trampoline netting!
Once onboard, it was time to take our flip flops off and start embracing the catamaran experience. Heading straight to the front of the vessel, we bounced our way onto the trampoline netting, where we planned on relaxing for some significant time.
On this smaller catamaran, there is some seating at the rear – bench seating around a table. There is also another seating area down inside the cabin. On the larger catamaran, there are many more benches and seats scattered around the boat for easier accessibility. However, in this excursion, most guests were on or around the netting area, which may not be suitable for everyone.
After a quick safety chat with the Captain, brilliantly French with a no nonsense sense of humour, we started to make our way south of the island. We were advised to only move around the boat if needed, which wasn’t much considering bar service came to you! With a beer in hand, the sails went up and the magic began. For the 4 hour half-day cruise, you can sip away with inclusive local beers, bubbles, soft drinks and water.
The uplifting catamaran feeling
The feeling of a catamaran is uplifting. The stability is mesmerising. When you think you’re going to feel the cutting into some bigger waves, the catamaran just glides effortlessly through it as if they are not even there. I’ve learnt over the past several years that I don’t particularly enjoy being thrown around like a washing machine whilst out on the water, so the gracefulness of this stability was a welcomed feeling.
Being under full sail, the atmosphere changed from being a little tense about this new adventure, to chilled Cape Verdean style with one of the crew members pulling out his guitar. Playing traditional Cape Verdean music whilst singing along (with other crew members joining in when they could) this was, for us, what made this experience. It was unexpected. And totally changed our perception. We’ve had music onboard boat cruises before, but live traditional music took it up a level. It definitely confirms that music, blue mind and mindfulness work perfectly together.
Discover part of Sal
We headed quite far south of the island before turning slightly west to head towards Ponta Sino. The views of the coastline, the small cities that lie within the all-inclusive resorts and being ocean side of the waves were captivating. Sal looks stunning. Still under sail, when there was a quiet break in the guitar strings, the tranquillity was meditating. You can’t help but smile.
Further discovery led to the west side of the island at Ponta Preta, one of the best beaches on Sal. To see the waves crashing onto the beach was inviting. You can’t take your eyes off it. Explore this wild side of the island from a different perspective, looking over to the Bikini Beach Club and hundreds of sun baked sun beds sunken in the golden sand.
After a couple of hours, we slowly started to cruise back towards Santa Maria. The sails got reeled back in as we glided closer to the coastline for an even better view. Music continued to add to the ‘No Stress’ vibes. Windsports enthusiasts came into view as they held on tight to their boom. Jet skiers had some fun, waving as they blasted past in their guided tour. There was always something new to see.
The views of Santa Maria were worth the money in themselves. So many vessels moored in the foreground, with glimmering waves, white powdery sand, red tiled rooftops and picturesque white buildings in the background. You can’t help but imagine yourself living here long term.
Jumping off for a magical snorkelling experience
Coming in closer to Santa Maria jetty, it was time to tie up to a big yellow buoy and enjoy just being on the water. But wait, then the snorkels came out! The bit we had been waiting for. We knew snorkelling was part of the experience, but we didn’t expect what was about to come.
After a few minutes, others who had already jumped in the water were getting quite excited at what they were witnessing. “It’s down here. It’s down here”. We couldn’t quite work out what was down there, but it sped up our entrance into the water. And, wow.
Just a short swim from the catamaran, there is a beautiful sunken statue of ‘Christ’ underwater. It’s so clear. The schools of fish loved it. But not as much as us. If you get a chance to witness this, take it. As you dive underwater, the sense of silence as your eyes meet the spectacular view almost gives you goosebumps. No other words can describe this other than captivating.
On larger catamaran cruises, they have inflatable areas at the back of the vessel for a safe spot for swimming.
As we climbed back onboard (thankfully with the small step ladder that was immersed in the water), we were warmed with the smell of some homemade delights. Hot local snacks and crisps were laid out on the tables, which were yummy after a bit of a workout in the sea! All of this with continued free bar service.
Heading back to Santa Maria Jetty
With a towel still wrapped around us, we headed back to our original starting point and headed back to the jetty on the questionable fishing vessel (it wasn’t really that bad!). For this 4 hour catamaran cruise in Sal, we explored the southwesterly part of the island. You would naturally need a full day to discover more. You can do this by booking a full day sailing cruise on a monohull sailing vessel (not a catamaran) or booking a catamaran exclusively for your use.
Walking back along the jetty, there was definitely a feel good factor from the experience that lasted the rest of the day. Water Wellness at its finest.
For more ideas on how to get on the water, check out these recommended excursions around the island.
Have you been on a catamaran cruise in Sal? Are you thinking of booking one? We’d love to know you’re thoughts in the comments below.
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