Santiago which is the largest and most populated Island in Cape Verde has a great combination of some attractive beaches, beautiful scenery and interesting historical sites to explore.
Praia the cosmopolitan capital is not only the location for Cape Verde's central government but also the commercial centre. Goods and services are more widely available and there is a growing business class influence. This Cosmopolitan influence in some ways could be seen as a reflection of the Diaspora, a period where Cape Verdeans in their masses emigrated to Europe, main land Africa and the USA. Some have now returned with their worldly knowledge, to seek new business opportunities. There are more cultural events to explore and museums to visit reflecting this cultural exchange. Praia and the rest of Santiago have also benefited from the huge amount of aid and investment mainly from Europe, China and the USA to improve infrastructures.
There have also been large investments within the real estate sector, business hotels and also resort style developments, including Casino and Golf projects to transform Santiago in to tourist destination and to take advantage of the geographical benefits that Santiago offers.
Visiting Cidade Velha a short distance from Praia and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site is an essential and humbling experience to understand the significance of Slavery in the history of Cape Verde. There is the opportunity to explore the ruins of the Portuguese settlement, including the Fortress of Sao Filipe dating from the 16th century. The centerpiece is the Whipping Post known as 'Pelourinho' made out of marble, a haunting symbol of the slave trade.
I would certainly recommend making your way towards Assomada and visiting the Tabanka museum. Here you can learn about the festival which occurs in June, a theatrical performance reflecting religious and social elements of society, dating back to the time of slavery.
Serra Malagueta Natural park located between Assomanda and Tarrafal is committed to eco tourism. Working in partnership with the local community its visitor centre can provide you with an experienced guide to escort you on many of the fabulous hiking trails. There are opportunities to stay with a local family and fully immerse yourself within Cape Verdean culture. The gift shop gives you the chance to purchase traditionally made handicrafts, an ideal gift or souvenir to remind you of your adventures.
If you continue to head north from Serra Malagueta you will reach the former concentration camp at Tarrafal, a testament to the dark past of the Portuguese dictatorship It was a prison for political and anti-colonial prisoners, the punishment for trying to escape was to be placed in solitary confinement in full exposure to the sun; out of the prison in to the frying pan!
The beach of Tarrafal in complete contrast is beautiful, full of character, with inviting waters, ideal for a touch of snorkeling. There is a pleasant restaurant looking over the beach where you can quench your thirst and enjoy the view as you contemplate the return back to Praia via the coastal route.