Almost 9 months in to parenting and we embark on our third bout of travelling with a small person in tow this time a Cape Verde Family Holidays with a Baby to a TUI All Inclusive!
As self-confessed travel lovers, how we spent our annual leave was always going to be one of the areas of our life that we most wanted to hold onto – but also aware that it would present a challenge.
After 2 independent trips (Northern Ireland and then Scandinavia), this time a combination of cost, lack of time to plan, and simply wanting some easy winter sun – meant that we embraced the antithesis of our normal approach: the package holiday!
Keen to still maintain some of our globe-trotting traits, we decided to avoid the more obvious trip to the Canary Islands – and instead pushed the flight length a couple more hours to get to Cape Verde (on which we used the Sky Baby – click here for a review).
How long is the Cape Verde Flight Time?
Flight connections from the UK are excellent with direct flights operating from London and other regional airports. Flight times are just under 6 hours.
Cape Verde Family Holidays with a Baby
Cape Verde is an independent African country comprising of an archipelago of 10 islands off the coast of Senegal, it has a growing tourism industry based upon sunshine, beaches and a perfect location for some water sports.
We booked with TUI at an all inclusive resort on the island of Sol, called Sol Dunas. In fact Sol Dunas and Melia Dunas are two hotels that adjoin and virtually feel like one hotel (which in fact they were until 2016 when they split slightly).
Initially the description was a little horrifying – a hotel with a potential populous of 3,000 – but in reality it’s pretty well designed. The buildings are only 3 storeys high, and the hotel is spread out across a site that is circa ¾ mile in length, with accommodation spread out around the 5 or 6 pool areas (one is limited to particular guests on a more premium package) so actually you never feel like you are in some form of behemoth type accommodation.
The split in the hotels is designed to have a family oriented version (Sol) and a couples / adult version (Melia), and it works pretty well. Sol has a bigger buffet type restaurant / canteen, plus 2 outdoor terrace al a carte style restaurants and a range of pool side bars. All of Melia’s restaurants are indoor and al a carte and there is a more ‘trendy’ selection of bars.
On the Sol side there are a range of services and activities aimed at children – a great fort themed playground; a small but fun looking water park, and a pool area with some child friendly pool equipment including a pirate ship and water cannons. Aside from the kids pool area, each of the main pools also has a low depth (20cm-30cm) baby section as well. The only real criticism is that none of the pools are heated, so can be a bit cold for small ones – we had a fleecy wet suit and that seemed to work OK. The reported policy of not letting people bag the loungers and particularly day beds (great with a baby) with towels isn’t really followed, so you’ll need to get your towels out before 8am if you want a prime spot.
Included in the price of your Cape Verde Family Holiday is a kids club where they will take children from 8 months old. We decided to give it a miss as they seemed less set up for babies our son’s age but throughout our break we saw lots of children of different ages enjoying themselves. They also offer a baby-sitting service, but at 18 Euros an hour – its not cheap but would allow you to have an evening off if you want.
In the evening there is an outdoor amphitheater with a range of shows across the week that seemed to successfully entertain the small people that attended, but again with a 9 month old it wasn’t suitable for us (and also a bit later than we needed).
In terms of practicality, every restaurant / place to eat in the hotel has an army of Ikea high chairs – and with it being all-inclusive there was no shortage of food to be tried (and often dropped) as we continued our baby-lead weaning. Arguably the quality of the food was better in the buffet, but the table service and relative quiet of the restaurants was more relaxing. You do have to book for the restaurants in the evening, but there is no limit on how many times you can do this during your stay. We mixed it up between the two throughout the holiday, and its worth noting just how friendly and helpful the staff were throughout our stay – even offering to hold our son whilst we both enjoyed a warm meal!
The hotel complex runs down to the beach where there are plenty of loungers to be had – and they all have a wind break built into them. If you are willing to pay you can even hire a 4 poster day bed! The sea is pretty rough though due to the winds, so perhaps not ideal for swimming – but there is a small enclosed section created by some man made wave breaks that is perfect (this is near something called Bikini Beach – a sort of high end luxury bar that has featured on some reality TV shows).
For those that want a relaxing chill out Family holidays in Cape Verde – the resort will deliver enough to keep you satisfied. However we have always been keen on getting out and about and TUI do offer a number of excursions to see some of the islands sights. Unfortunately these are not aimed at families with really small babies in terms of the transport options – with some quite rough roads, the need for off-road vehicles and no baby seats available.
That said there are a couple of attractions close enough that you can walk or take the risk in a local taxi and just hold your child (it’s a short simple journey on very quiet roads). Kite Beach is about 40 minutes walk and a great place to see locals and tourists alike performing some amazing kite surfing skills. There is a cool ramshackle style beach bar complete with a (very) rough and ready children’s play area as well to watch the action from.
The local town / resort of Santa Maria is also walkable and offers some better beaches for swimming, a chance to see the local fisherman at work from the pier and a good range of shops and bars/restaurants (though they are not cheap). If you venture off the main drag you get a real sense of being in a West African town –and in all places you feel incredibly safe and the locals are really friendly and love babies!
A good way of testing a holiday destination is whether you would recommend it to others, and I think the simple answer is yes I would recommend Cape Verde Family Holidays with a Baby. It’s a great value destination with almost guaranteed warm weather and relatively easy with a small child in tow – it’s not perfect, but we definitely enjoyed our stay.
NB: This was not a complimentary trip. The family booked and paid for their holiday just decided to send us a review!