Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde IslandsSanta Maria is, by far, the biggest and most popular tourist resort in the Cape Verde Islands. The resort attracts a predominantly Italian clientèle, although this is starting to change as more direct flights become available from elsewhere in Europe.
The resort is located 18Km south of the Airport on the Island's southern coast. The beautiful 8km long white sand beach is the main attraction here with it's warm clear waters. A variety of Marine Excursions and organised Water Sports are available here, as you would expect of a Beach Resort.
Santa Maria came into existence to house the workers from the nearby Salt Pans, which were constructed at the beginning of the 19th Century, however the settlement went into decline at the end of the same century with the collapse of the local Salt Industry.
The tourist resort has grown parallel with the beach at either side of Santa Maria Village itself - most of the luxury Hotels are at the western end, while Holiday-Home Apartments and Villas occupy the front-line to the east of the village. Moving inland from the beach, the streets get progressively worse until they become Shanty-like at the extreme rear of the town.
Seafood is Santa Maria's speciality and a special mention should go to Restaurante Americo's on the main street (don't let the tacky plastic sign put you off). Although most people are there for the Lobster, the Percebes (gooseneck barnacles) and grilled fish of the day should not be missed.
Apart from the in-house entertainment organised by the Hotels, Santa Maria also has a couple of Bars and a Disco (the building with Pirate ship sticking out of it's roof!). Two bars to visit are Tam-Tam (run by a young Irish Couple) and Chill-Out (which also offers Internet Access).
While you are there, you should try a local Caipirinha, like the Brazilian original, except with local Grogue substituting the cachaça.
There can be some hassle from Senegalese Immigrants trying to entice tourists into various markets and shops, although authorities have been starting to clamp down on this practice of late.