2011's tourism hotspots: What to do in Cape Verde

Say you're going on holiday to Cape Verde, and the answer will most likely be "where?" - but that may not be the case for much longer.

The Cape Verde archipelago sits off the cost of West Africa and boasts beautiful coastlines, a modern infrastructure and a vibrant culture which mixes elements of Africa, the Caribbean and Europe, although it remains a little-known destination.

That could be about to change, however - last year, Lonely Planet named it one of its top destinations for 2011 and the country is pumping money into new infrastructure to become a tourism hotspot.

Official figures suggest that arrivals are growing at a rate of 22 percent, with the country on track to welcome 1 million visitors annually by 2015.

So what can visitors do on the islands, some 455 km off the cost of Senegal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?

Explore - The historic center of Cidade Velha dates back to the 15th century and was the first European colonial outpost in the tropics, earning it a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2009.

Climb a volcano - The island of Fogo is one massive volcano, which last erupted in 1995. Daring and fit travelers can climb Mount Fogo, although it takes around five hours each way and it's advisable to take a local guide.

Discover a legend - Singer Cesaria Evora is perhaps Cape Verde's best-known export, and her songs capture the nature of life on her home island of Sao Vicente and her hometown, Mindelo, where her music is widely played and visitors can see her house.

Sunbathe - Cape Verde has been referred to as the new Canary Islands for its abundant sunshine. The islands of Sal, Boa Vista and Maio in the east offer unspoilt beaches and 350 days of sun a year.

See turtles - The island of Boa Vista is said to be one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting spots on the planet, used by the creatures before they cross the Atlantic.

Swim in salt - Salt from the island of Sal is one of Cape Verde's major exports and forms incredible vistas, as well as natural salt baths.

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