Waaayyy back in 2014, my boyfriend and I decided to celebrate the end of our university lives by going on holiday. It took us far too long to decide on a destination, but we eventually opted for Cape Verde, a country made up of lots of small islands off the west coast of Africa.

We went through Thomson and booked an all-inclusive, 11-day trip which was incredible. Lots of companies like them also do all-inclusive trips out there, and we stayed on the island of Sal, which alongside Boa Vista, is one of the main tourist-y and more accessible islands of the country.

To say it was like a kind of paradise was an understatement. Our hotel was the Riu Garopa, which essentially looks like one massive palace off the beach. We had a lovely room with a balcony, and let's just say the element of the all-inclusive definitely agreed with us; food and drink available throughout the day, whenever we wanted....it was THE BEST. The staff were so friendly and enthusiastic, and they make a mean strawberry daiquiri (and one helluva strong Caipirinha!)

Our hotel was joined onto another sister hotel, meaning we had free range of about 4 or so gorgeous pools, and a couple of swim-up bars. We loved them so much that every time we think about an all-inclusive trip again, we always look to make sure the pool has a swim-up bar....it left a very good impression!

The beach was about a 5 minute walk from the hotel which was perfect. Beautiful white sand and blue water - and we happened to get there at the same time the resort was hosting a beach party haha. It was so peaceful knowing you were basically plonked bang in the middle of the Atlantic with nowhere else to go (it was a bit weird knowing the nearest UK embassy was in Senegal, I have to say) and just what we needed after a very stressful last term full of dissertations, coursework and exams!

The good thing about going with Thomson - especially to such a secluded destination - is that they have loads of excursions on offer that you can do. We took advantage of their free tour around the nearest town, Santa Maria, which was gorgeous! Walking up towards the town was so surreal; it was so deserted except for the occasional hotel sign where a new Hilton or whatever was being built (it's probably all finished now haha!) and the town itself wasn't much busier. We visited a couple of beachside bars, a local school, and the marketplace where my boyfriend successfully managed to haggle me out of buying souvenirs for an extortionate price - this is very necessary here as everyone really wanted to sell us something!

Another trip we did was a jeep tour around the island. Sal is tiny, and if you were to drive around the whole place without stopping, it would probably only take you nearly half an hour. That being said, we stopped off at loads of places; Buracona lagoon, where you can see what looks like a blue eye over the water (it's actually very cool), Terra Boa, where the sand kind of merges into a mirage-like effect, Espargos - the capital of Sal - where we watched the local fisherman carry some huge looking fish off a tiny boat, and we picked up souvenirs, and lastly, Pedra de Lume. This was the coolest of all: it's where you can bathe in the salt lakes and actually float - you can't sink at all because of the amount of salt in the water - like the Dead Sea! It was really fun and felt very weird to barely be able to put my feet down on the lake floor, but I definitely recommend.

We also visited a little restaurant on the seafront in Santa Maria called Odjo D'Agua, where we celebrated getting our university results. It was such a memorable night and very romantic, and one of my favourite memories of the trip.

All in all though, if you're looking for a tropical getaway that isn't a hugely long flight away from the UK but still has the beautiful beaches and resorts, then Cape Verde is the place to go. I'm sure it's changed even more since I was there because it very much is an up-and-coming destination, particularly for Brits! I'll make sure to come back.

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M x