Sometimes imagining what a place is like, miles away, with only illusions, photographs and stories to guide you, makes for the best kind of daydreaming. And dreaming about magical places comes most naturally when your city turns sad and pessimistic; Jack Frost teasing from the horizon. We watch our skin go from golden-brown to pale, as we picture a place with 360 days of sunshine, where row boats in primary colors lie washed up on a white, smooth beach. We daydream about rhythmic music and drums and fresh fish markets that are brimming with people. We daydream about a place like Cape Verde.

The Salt Pans of Sal:
I want to wake up in the vivid hued town of Santa Maria on the island of Sal, some 500 km off the Senegalese coast. I want to watch the sunrise from its soft, tumbling dunes and spend the day snorkelling through rainbow-bright coral reefs. Then I’d make the trek to the island’s Pedra de Lume Salt Crater: a massive salt pan in the middle of an inactive volcano. I wouldn’t leave without floating across these chilly salt waters, enjoying the peace of an island that hasn’t yet been hit by mass tourism. First Choice has plenty of options for ways to enjoy the island of Sal.

Ecotourism in Boa Vista:

The next day I would take a ferry to the southern island of Boa Vista. Here, I’d watch humpback whales slap against the waves and perform acrobatics in one of only two breeding grounds in the North Atlantic. I’d sign up for turtle watch patrol and sneak along Ervatao Beach to spot a few nesting loggerhead turtles; watch them dig holes in and out of the sand, and make sure they are protected against poachers. Maybe I’d also finally take up that water sport I’ve been wanting to for years, but never have, living so far away from the sea. First I’d get a taste of it by watching the pros windsurf on Tortuga Beach.

Hike up Monte Gordo:
I want to fly in a tiny propeller plane to the island of São Nicolau and hike up the mountains of Monte Gordo, through tropical plantations and up to the top of its 1,300 meter tall peak, to gaze over the green valleys; long stretches of sand and sea in the distance. I would take the deserted paths and visit traditional villages, and make my way back down to the main town of Ribeira Brava, where intellectuals and poets gather. Then I’d want to find the volcanic beach of Tarrafal whose black sand has healing properties.

Nights of music in São Vicente:

With ten islands to discover, I’d find it hard to stay put on just one and hop over next to São Vicente. I want to visit the pastel and candy-colored colonial port town of Mindelo – the cultural heart of Cape Verde. I’d stick around for carnival and watch the vibrant, feathered costumes and floats weave through the streets. I’d tap my feet to West African rhythms and Batuko tunes at the major music festivals, Festival Da Gamboa in May or Baia das Gatas in August.

History and markets in Santiago:
Then, leaving the capital for last, I’d head over to Praia on the island of Santiago. I want to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cidade Velha, the first colonial outpost in the tropics, and a symbol of Cape Verde’s fight for independence. I want to get caught up in the bustle of Assomado market and watch chaos unfold as locals haggle to get the best deal on the day’s catch. I’d want to then wander the streets and overhear the back-and-forth of women gossiping in Crioulo – their exotic language that mixes medieval Portuguese with ancient African dialects.

[Photo credit: c/o First Choice]