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Diving in Cape Verde: Sal Island

Underwater Photography of Cabo Verde

We got to know the scuba diving in Cape Verde (also called as Cabo Verde) after a presentation at a scuba diving exhibition in the Netherlands. The Atlantic Ocean surrounding Cape Verde is migration route for humpbacks whales, sperm whales and turtles. In the specific months, the locals and visitors could expect to see the whales (February-April) and turtles nesting (July-October).

Cape Verde is an archipelago country consists of 10 islands and several islets. From ten islands, I find only four islands have established dive centers: Boa Vista Island, Sal Island, Santo Antão Island, and São Vicente Island. This year we visited Sal Island, and hopefully we will visit the rest of the islands in the future. Cape Verde has great potential in scuba diving tourism and we did experience various types of scuba diving because each dive sites has unique characteristics. The following is the diving experiences you can expect when scuba diving in Sal Island:

 

Drift Diving

Some dive sites in Sal Island have strong current. Well, there is nothing in between Sal Island to Brazil but vast ocean, we just have to watch out for not being swept away to Brazil! While the currents could be tricky and unpleasant to dive with, personally I enjoy diving with current as long as it’s not the one that suck you down to bottomless sea or make you swivel around like you were in a washing machine. Thankfully our dive guides checked the currents before we jumped into the water, thus mostly we did drift diving, a type of scuba diving where the diver is transported by the currents.

Nudibranch Flabellina bulbosa

Nudibranch Flabellina bulbosa

This image was taken when we were diving in strong current. The current was so strong that we had to hold onto a rope line of a buoy and as you can see, the nudibranch was holding onto the algae tightly otherwise he would be swept easily by the current!

 

Wreck Diving

Shipwrecks Sal Island

Shipwrecks Sal Island

There are several shipwrecks around Sal Island and most of them are not too deep. The shipwrecks are full of marine life, some of them even covered by sun corals! and easily we spotted schooling fish next to the shipwrecks. Recommended dive sites with shipwrecks:

Kwarcit Wreck at 28 meter depth. 50m long Russian trawler fishing boat sunk in 2006. Now it is home to the fishes. The boat is still in good shape, strong current might occurred in this dive site.
St. Antão at 10-12 meter depth. The ship sunk in 1966 with length of 45m, it’s home to schooling pufferfish, eel morays and sting rays.

 

Cave Diving

Cave diving is the ultimate highlight of scuba diving in Sal Island. Our favorite cave dive sites are Palmeira IV and Buracona. The cave diving is intense and categorized as a dangerous activity, however, the cave dive sites in Sal Island are considered easy. Each cave has several large openings plus inside the cave is quite spacious. The entrance of the caves are covered by sun corals, that turned to the pitch black once we entered the cave. No sharks encounter inside the dark cave but for sure we saw numerous marine life like dwarf lobsters and arrow crabs.

 

Diving with Moray eel

Dive sites in Sal Island have plenty of moray eels! Almost in every dive site, we were easily spotting the eel, sometimes the eel swam close to us or ‘strapping’ himself to the reef. The eels have vicious looks since they always showing their teeth with glaring eyes to scuba divers, however, this is the way they breathe! They have poor vision thus they prey following to the smells.

 

Practical Information to Dive in Sal Island

  • Water temperatures: 22 to 27 degree Celsius (colder in the winter months, with the warmest water temperature in October)
  • Diving is all year round (hardly rains in Sal Island!)
  • Extra cost applied when scuba diving in Palmeira and Buracona caves
  • Bring reef hook to help you as the currents are unbearable

 

 

126 Comments »

  1. I’ve been offline for a while. I’m back for a bit! That first shot made me stop and wonder! The cave shot cave me a shiver. The moray eel scares me for some reason, even in an aquarium! And you look like you’re about to get some teeth?? Did you make him angry on purpose? Do you fear nothing, girl?
    If you’re going to Minnesota in winter, you better wear heavy, heavy heavy clothing! I’d like to see how you photograph the snow.

    • Maybe because they think this Asian woman just too annoying with her camera close to them 😀 – they hate scuba paparazzi 🙂 I was afraid of the eels at the beginning of my scuba diving days until I learn that’s how they breathe – they just have to open their mouth and of course showing their teeth 😀

      Ohh, that’s Minnesota travel…to be honest I am not so looking forward to it when thinking about the winter clothing 😀

      • Scuba paparazzi!! How funny…but if fish think, I bet that’s exactly what they think about divers with cameras sticking the thinks right in their tails and fins. Breathing eels…got it!
        MN–be careful if you drive in snow!! Or go outside. Sometimes it freezes your skin. And “don’t eat yellow snow”

  2. WOW! The drift diving would be quite the unforgettable experience Indah! The Nudibranch gives a glimpse of how strong and powerful the movement of water is. It would have been tricky for you…holding onto the rope with one hand, while taking the picture with the other hand.

    Such a fascinating underwater world. The eels do look threatening. And the underwater caves gives me goosebumps thinking of them and the pitch blackness. You are AMAZING Indah! Love your picture of the 2 divers in the cave! 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing. A most enjoyable read! 🙂

    ~Carl~

  3. Indah, I live vicariously through you to enjoy diving:) very fascinating post and photos, once again. The ship wreck pictures make me think of the stories behind them. Loved the picture of the cape too.

    • Sebenarnya tergantung lokasi sih. Kalau ke Raja Ampat atau Komodo ya menyelam juga bisa muahal banget harganya tapi di Sulawesi Utara bisa lumayan terjangkau. Di Bonaire, itu harga menyelamnya unlimited gitu bisa jauh lebih murah dari harga menyelam di Bali atau di Sulawesi Utara loh 😉

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