View from balcony - Agua Hotel Sal Cape Verde

Is Vila Verde in Sal, Cape Verde worth booking?

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If you are wondering whether Agua Hotels Vila Verde in Sal, Cape Verde is a good choice, you’ve come to the right place to find out. We can’t recommend this hotel enough when looking for a self-catering alternative to the all-inclusive resorts that line the island.

Sal is an absolutely beautiful island – perfect for that winter getaway and a Water Wellness break. Whether self-catering is always your preferred choice or you are looking for a quieter location, Vila Verde in Sal is ideal, ticking many of the boxes for the perfect holiday.

Here’s what we thought when we stayed a week in November 2022. As always, we booked our flights through Skyscanner, as it gives us the best price. We love using this platform – it’s not let us down yet!

Vila Verde Location and Free Shuttle Buses

Vila Verde is about 15-20 minutes by taxi from Sal airport. There are plenty of taxis outside the airport waiting for you as they naturally know when the planes come in! Head down one long straight road from the airport towards the centre of Santa Maria, and you’ll find the hotel on the left before you come to the main town. You can’t miss it. Vila Verde is a significant residential complex, with apartments rented out for tourists. The cost of taxi to the hotel from Sal Airport was €20 in 2022.

When we arrived, it felt like a ghost town! Almost like you’d walked onto a disused movie set. It was a little surreal. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, and it actually got a lot busier as the week went on.

There is a free shuttle bus run by the hotel, which takes you into Santa Maria and to the nearest beach to the west – Ponta Preta Beach. These buses run at different times, taking only a few minutes, and the timings are quite spread out, so you need to plan for your day. There are a couple in the morning, a couple in the afternoon and three later in the night. As we were early in the season, they weren’t yet running the shuttle bus to Espargos, which was a shame as we would have jumped on this for the experience. The timings of the buses are spot on so don’t be late!

Free shuttle bus information from Vila Verde in Sal, Cape Verde

It takes about 40 minutes to walk (slow pace!) to Santa Maria, at just under 2km along a straight flat road. The pavement towards Santa Maria, and around the town itself is quite cobbled and uneven. Just a heads up, so you don’t do your calf in like I did on the first day! I’m just not used to walking in them, and I paid the price for the rest of the week!

You can order a taxi from reception, which costs €5 to Santa Maria. There is a taxi rank at the end of the main street, so it’s easy enough to catch one back.

Ponta Preta Beach is just over 1km, with a slight downward incline to the beach. It took about 20 minutes for us to walk. There are two different routes – one directly west along the main road, or you can meander through the complex and come out further south along the beach.

Check out this video we made of the walk from the reception, through the complex and to the south part of Ponta Preta beachfront:

Sal Vila Verde Accommodation

Apartment location

We booked a one-bedroom apartment through Booking.com, and the process was seamless, as usual with this platform – we’ve never had any issues. After a bit of hunting around for the best price, as the hotel is on several platforms, we found this was the best value for what we were looking for. There is a Cape Verde tourist tax also to be paid (as well as the airport tax), which worked out as €14 each for 7 nights (2022). This is payable in euros at the hotel reception on check-in.

Check-in was smooth, friendly and efficient. There is some information about excursions in the reception area as well as an impressive book library – depending on your language of choice! We received our free beach towel cards, which can be used once a day and then shown to our apartment by the welcoming receptionist.

Vila Verde in Sal is divided into four main areas within the complex, with at least twelve blocks and many more apartments and townhouses scattered around. The main tourist area is adjacent to the reception. We found ourselves in Block C (I thought this was short for the Cactus block but turned out there was a Canna block as well, so that doesn’t work out!).

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2nd floor. Balcony overlooking the pool. Perfect.

Sal Vila Verde Hotel Map
Vila Verde in Sal Hotel Complex Map
Vila Verde in Sal, Cape Verde lit up at night – this was the evening view from our balcony

Inside the Vila Verde apartment

First impressions of the apartment were very good. It was clean. Modern. Looked exactly like the photos on their website. Absolutely no disappointment. Just smiles.

The space within a one-bedroom apartment was welcoming. It felt bigger than the photos gave it credit for. The kitchen was large enough to cook meals comfortably, with a big four seater dining table, a large fridge freezer with several drawers, a washing machine, toaster, kettle and plenty of crockery storage space. The only grumble we had was limited kitchen equipment. One pan. One very small frying pan. No shelf in the oven with no oven tray anyway, so completely unusable. It’s worth checking what is available before you purchase what you are cooking. Finding out you have no oven after the event makes for some creative culinary thinking!

The rest of the apartment was good. The beds were comfortable. Made up every day. More than enough space to store your belongings and several suitcases. The sofa was a little hard, but we didn’t spend much time on it. The TV reception was shady, so that got turned off pretty quickly. And the balcony was the full length of the apartment, with a gorgeous view of the pool and pool bar area. If we looked far to the left (east), we could see the sea past the salt pans and horizon in the distance at the Kite Beach – home to some incredible kite-surfing conditions in Cape Verde.

There was also a small balcony from the bedroom overlooking the hotel entrance.

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The Hotel Pool and Pool Bar

There are four pools around the Sal Vila Verde complex. We didn’t see any others as they are all security door protected. Our pool within this complex of blocks was perfect. Cleaned every day. Good size. Good length. Refreshing temperature. Perfect for getting some strokes in if you want to swim. A smaller kid’s pool is to the side, which was warmer and swallower. With it being the beginning of the season, getting a sunbed was not a problem. It usually got a bit busier in the afternoon, by which time it was only the older sunbeds available which were sagging a bit! Probably need replacing soon. There were probably about 30+ sunbeds available. Maybe more come out during the height of the season – there would be plenty of space to fit them in.

Within this area, there is also a small, sandy kid’s play area with some equipment to play on.

With Sal having a bit of a breeze throughout the day, the pool does get a bit messy with leaves by the end of the day. The grounds are gorgeous with all the trees and shrubbery, but the pool takes a bit of a beating! This was the first impression of the pool, but faith was thankfully restored in the morning when it was back to being pristine!

The pool bar di Terra @ Cactus pool was open from 10am until 6pm each day. They run a happy hour from 4pm until 5pm, where you drink 3 and pay for 2! This was a little misleading as in the reception, they were promoting 2 for 1! We questioned it the first time we had a drink there as they charged full whack for 4 drinks, which they did adjust to 2 for 1! Something worth checking! A small range of cocktails, spirits, beers, local drinks and a couple of international options is available. Service was slow, but hey, you’re on holiday, so what’s the rush?!

They have a menu available which serves a selection of tapas, salads, pizzas, toasties, burgers, fish dishes, grilled dishes, pasta, risotto, kids meals and a couple of desserts. We didn’t eat here, but the food looked good when it was served.

According to the Vila Verde hotel information, a Bo Beach Bar is also part of the resort. There is a directional arrow on the map for it, but do you think I could find it?! To be fair, I didn’t ask at reception, but if you do find it, let me know! It looks like they run two happy hours during the day from 12pm until 1pm and then 3pm until 4pm. These happy hours and opening hours for the bars may change during the different periods of the year.

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Hotel wi-fi

There is free hotel wi-fi which is situated in the reception area and the pool bars. It’s a fairly decent speed and worked well during our week. We were lucky that we could pick it up from our balcony, with a clear line to the pool bar. However, once inside the apartment, the signal was lost.

There is a paid wi-fi option, with a router in each apartment. For 24 hours, it costs €8, and for 8 days, it costs €39 (2022 prices).

On-site restaurants

There are two restaurants on-site, however during our stay, only 1 was open – Karavela. There are also a number of different shops, a coffee shop and a bakery, which look like they may open during busier periods.

Karavela was open from 6.30pm until 11pm, serving some really good food. The menu is varied, with similar foods served to the pool bar, but with a few more options. There are plenty of salads, grilled dishes, pizza, pasta and more desserts to choose from. The first night we dined there, we arrived just after 6.30pm. We chose a starter of Breaded Goat’s Cheese, with Chicken Corden Bleu for the main. The chicken was outstanding. The goat’s cheese was pretty average. Both were served quickly, and the service was welcoming.

The second night we ate there was only due to the fact that the Bikini Beach Club at Ponta Preta Beach, which we highly recommend, was closed. It said on their social media opening hours they open everyday, but again, it wasn’t the height of the season. Without walking back into Santa Maria, the process of elimination meant Karavela was our only choice. There are no other public restaurants (everything you see along Ponta Preta Beach, apart from the Beach Club and the Reggae Bar is part of all inclusive hotels!). The on-site supermarket had already closed, so we returned to the restaurant.

This time we ordered the Seafood Stew with White Rice which was incredible. Light. Fresh. Tasty. Hit the spot. The only grumble was that because we didn’t get there until 8.30pm, the restaurant was a lot busier. We waited well over an hour and a half for our food. It was to be expected though. They were dealing with a new menu and a new team!

There is plenty of seating inside and out. The outside seating doesn’t offer much of a view, but still a lovely choice of somewhere to dine.

On-site Supermarket

The supermarket within Sal’s Vila Verde become a daily visit for us! Located almost in the heart of the complex, it has all the essentials you need, and more. It’s reasonably priced, considering it has a captive audience.

The nearest supermarket is in Santa Maria, situated behind the Roxy surf retail store on the main road as you go through the town. It’s the only other supermarket we could find – the others were mini-marts. The supermarket in Vila Verde is by far the better one. There is enough choice to have several different meals, with lots of frozen choices as well (hope you’re good at Spanish!). The only niggle here is the freshness of the fruit and veg – you really do have to go picking!

Many international lines were available, along with plenty of local items, bread and water.

Overall wrap-up

We loved staying at Vila Verde in Sal. We would book it again, no questions asked. Excellent value for money. Great location. Ideal for self-catering alternatives. Good services and facilities. Clean. Inviting. Welcoming.

There are plenty of restaurants, bars and entertainment options in Santa Maria to make self-catering a viable option in Sal. It’s a short walk, free shuttle bus ride or taxi away, so it’s perfect if you don’t want to pay for an all-inclusive holiday. The on-site supermarket also really helps.

It’s got a big thumbs up from us.

Are you considering staying at Vila Verde in Sal? Have you stayed here before? Do you love Cape Verde as much as we do? We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

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