The Cape Verde islands consist of two small (volcanic in origin) archipelagos, about 400 miles off the western coast of Africa.These once uninhabited islands were first discovered by the ancient Phoenicians, then later colonized and exploited by the Portuguese, beginning in the 15th century.In the 16th century the islands became an infamous trading center for African slaves, and eventually, an important stopping point for transatlantic sea traffic in the 19th century.In an attempt to cripple the growing nationalism, Portugal transformed Cape Verde from a colony to an overseas province in 1951. The islands gained their independence on July 5, 1975, and politically has remained a stable democracy; however, as of 2007 Cape Verde is considered as a developing nation and currently has a population of 113,364. Cape Verde is made up of 10 isles floating in Atlantic Ocean, 500 kilometres off the coast of Senegal. They’re still fairly new to the travel circuit, but with their out-of-this-world beaches and lively surf, they’re quickly making a name for themselves.Cape Verde’s most popular island is Sal, which is known for its striking, lunar-like landscape. It’s dotted with colourful, cobbled towns, like Santa Maria on the southern shores, where you’ll find surf shops, traditional restaurants and a pretty square lined with al fresco cafés. The main attraction, though, is the beach, which stretches along the coast for eight kilometres.You’ll find plenty more in the way of beaches over on Boa Vista, which translates as ‘beautiful view’. In fact, the sands here halo the coastline for 55 uninterrupted kilometres and are uniformly the colour of sugar. Praia Chave deserves a special mention, thanks to its creamy swathes and shape-shifting dunes.Between October and June, temperatures on the Cape Verde Islands average 26°C and, either side of that, it doesn’t tend to drop below the 19°C mark. Plus, a breeze from the Sahara keeps things comfortable in the hotter months. Rainfall is a real rarity here.