The 9 best diving spots in Cape Verde

Plongée sous-marine. Un plongeur qui explore la vie des récifs coralliens. Plongée ensemble

Check your oxygen tanks and get out your wetsuit! We’ll show you the 9 best diving spots in Cape Verde.

Located off the coast of Senegal, the Cape Verde archipelago is made up of a dozen islands shaped by volcanic activity. The music of Cesaria Evora, its picturesque villages and beaches have all contributed to the archipelago’s boom in tourism. Already a popular destination for hikers thanks to its topography, Cape Verde’s diving enthusiasts began to discover the potential of the island’s diving spots a few years ago. While it is generally possible to find sites for all levels of diver, it should be noted that currents can be quite strong in the archipelago, making for a rather sporty outing.

1. Tchouklass

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: Santa Maria Bay on the island of Sal
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20-25°C
  • ☑️ Level: advanced
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: soft coral, moray eels, rays

The site is located around 3 kilometers from Santa Maria beach. It’s one of Cape Verde’s best-known diving spots, thanks to its diverse flora and fauna.

The dive starts on a ledge with yellow polyps, where you may encounter schools of fish. The site allows you to descend to a depth of 35 meters and observe dorados, marlins, crustaceans and rays, including manta rays. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of whale sharks.

2. Tre Grutas

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: Santa Maria Bay on the island of Sal
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20- 24°C
  • ☑️ Level: intermediate to advanced
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: trumpet fish, soft coral, moray eels, lobsters, diodons

Once again, we depart from Santa Maria beach for this popular site, renowned as one of Cape Verde’s finest diving spots.

Depths do not exceed 20 meters, and the dive offers the opportunity to explore 3 caves with a wealth of fauna. If you don’t want to miss out on the spectacle of underwater life, a dive light is advisable. From time to time, it’s possible to cross paths with turtles.

3. The Boris Wreck

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: Santa Maria Bay on the island of Sal
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20-25°C
  • ☑️ Level: intermediate to advanced
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: coral, lionfish, stingray

A promise made, a promise kept! Here’s one of Cape Verde’s most famous diving wrecks. It’s a former Russian ship that was sunk in 2006 and lies at a depth of 30 meters. As well as exploring the ship you can enter, the site is a delight for underwater photography enthusiasts, as it is inhabited by many nudibranchs.

You can also admire toadfish, scorpionfish and crustaceans. Among the schools of fish that swim here, manta rays sometimes pay you a visit.

4. Buracona

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: the place-Buracona, Sal island
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20-24°C
  • ☑️ Level: beginner
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: the site is better known for its geology than for its marine diversity

This is the best-known and most popular spot, accessible to everyone from land. The site is nicknamed the Blue Eye, because it’s actually a large volcanic cave carved out by the currents. It has 3 entrances, the largest of which is 26 meters deep.

The attraction of this spot lies in its open dome, which creates a superb play of light in turquoise tones. Of course, the diving itself is only accessible to qualified divers, especially as you have to jump into the surf, but many tourists swim on the surface.

5. WYWH

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: Porto Novo on the island of Santo Antao
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20-28°C
  • ☑️ Level: beginner
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: nurse sharks, parrotfish

The island of Santo Antao has the advantage of being relatively off the beaten tourist track, yet it boasts some beautiful seabeds, perfect for diving in Cape Verde. Such is the case of this spot, whose name is short for Wish you were here.

This labyrinthine reef with a sandy bottom is home to most of the species found in Cape Verdean waters. You can observe nurse sharks, longfin sharks, turtles and schools of tropical fish such as parrotfish.

6. Ponta Tubarao

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: Porto Novo on the island of Santo Antao
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20°-28°C
  • ☑️ Level: advanced
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: crustaceans, groupers, barracudas

You have to enter the channel between the islands of Santo Antao and Sao Vicente to access this spot. There’s no reef here, and diving is done in the current to a maximum depth of 35 meters, but it’s considered one of the most beautiful in the area.

Biodiversity forms a marvellous ballet between schools of amberjacks, jacks, groupers, barracudas and parrotfish. Depending on the season, manta rays and turtles can be seen swimming in the current.

7. Atlantis Palace

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: Porto Novo on the island of Santo Antao
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20°-28°C
  • ☑️ Level: advanced
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: corals, nudibranchs, nurse sharks

The name alone makes you want to dive in Cape Verde! The site consists of a stroll through a cave whose walls are covered in yellow coral.

The tour usually starts at the deepest entrance. Don’t forget your dive light to explore the caves and discover nurse sharks, colonies of colorful nudibranchs, lobsters and maybe some rays.

8. Praia de Vulcao

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Photo credit: Facebook – Maio Plongée Cap-Vert

  • 📍 D eparture point: Porto Novo on the island of Santo Antao
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20°-28°C
  • ☑️ Level: beginner to intermediate
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: dolphins, turtles, schools of tropical fish

This Cape Verde dive descends gently over a sandy slope before reaching the reef, which drops to a depth of 30 meters.

As in most sites in the region, schools of fish are legion, swirling about and testifying to the great diversity of underwater life. You’ll find a mix of Atlantic and more tropical species. This is the spot where you’re most likely to come across dolphins, turtles and whale sharks.

9. Shark Bow

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Photo credit: Flickr – Kary Mar

  • 📍 D eparture point: Sal Rei on the island of Boa Vista
  • 🌡️ Water temperature: 20°-28°C
  • ☑️ Level: advanced
  • 🐚 Fauna and flora: tropical fish, sharks

Another of Cape Verde’s little-known diving islands, but one that is full of treasures. Such is the case with this spot which, as its name suggests, may allow you to swim with bull sharks, rather difficult to see. Normally, however, there’s nothing to fear from this non-aggressive species.

The dive explores a reef that descends to a depth of 25 meters and is crossed by a large arch. This is where you’ll find a concentration of exceptional fauna, including trumpet fish, squirrelfish and surgeonfish, as well as a few rays and crustaceans.

Now you’re all set for a great diving session in Cape Verde!