Some islands will have a better fresh food supply than others. The islands of Sal, Santiago and Sao Vicente will have a greater abundance of fresh food on a more regular basis than other islands. Fresh produce will remain more expensive on the islands than in Europe, as most fresh produce is imported from other countries. There is no guarantee there will be the same regular weekly supply of all fruit & vegetables in the next delivery.
Frozen meats are imported, but there is some supply of local meats available. Fresh fish supplies arrive daily with local fishermen who bring in their catch after a mornings fishing, other than when there is inclement weather and they can't take their boats out to fish. Some of the less populated islands will rely more, on selling fish.
We sometimes hear that people have complained, on different forums or social media, that there may not be any eggs/tomatoes/apples or other items in shops on an island. That may be the case from time to time, however their shopping experience may have only been to one supermarket and one local Chinese shop, who knows! There are some small local shops in houses, some don't have fridges to keep fresh produce from 'going off', especially when the weather is hot, when fresh produce will turn more quickly.
If looking for shops in which to buy fresh vegetables or fruit and other items, it may be best not to buy everything in one place when you do your first
shop. Expats have their favourite places to buy certain items or know that one place will likely have a more regular supply of one item, than other
shops. Some of the smaller local stores may be popular for some things, while the larger stores or suppliers will be useful to visit for other supplies
on Sal, Santiago, Sao Vicente. There may be other stores that have opened on other islands that are a good place to shop, but we can't comment on those.
Please also be aware that there are often power cuts on the islands, some more so than others, it is mainly down to the infrastructure on each island. When there are power cuts fridge freezers may defrost if the power supply is off for a long period, or the door is opened regularly, especially in hotter months. It has been known for some shops to re-freeze foods in freezers.
Not all shops have generators. Those that do have generators may have a limited time period of operation. There are more and, larger supermarkets on Santiago and Sao Vicente than on Sal, these should be able to cope with prolonged power cuts, however that is an unknown factor.
If you are travelling to Cape Verde from another country then consider bringing items with you in your hold luggage, however also think about possible flight delays or in-direct flights and luggage going missing en-route!
If you are travelling to one of the other islands from Santiago, Sao Vicente or Sal for a few days and are also self-catering there, perhaps you should consider taking a few items with you.
Check your accommodation has the cooking and storage facilities you require. If your accommodation is all electric and there is a power cut, you may not be able to cook at certain times or keep foods chilled or frozen. Most privately rented apartments will not have their own generators. Some apartments in resorts will have generators, however they may not operate 100% of the time. Some of the larger hotels and resorts will have systems in place to ensure that back up power and water supplies are available in most circumstances.
It is accepted that tap water is not treated to European standards and therefore is not suitable for drinking straight from the tap. You may wish to choose to clean your teeth with bottled water. However, those apartments that have water filters fitted that are changed and maintained according to instructions, could provide you with drinking water. You may want to check if there is information provided for use of the rented apartment, which may include information on water supply or what to do if there is a power cut.
If there is a power cut, the water pumps will stop working (unless there is a generator). Some apartments will also supply a back up supply of tap water, these may be stored in re-filled 5ltr container water bottles. This water can be used for washing or flushing toilets during power cuts. Ensure these back up supplies don't get confused with your drinking water bottles that you have purchased in shops.
So basically in general, you need to shop around. Yes, there may be occasions where a particular item you need or want isn't readily available at the time
of looking or yes, there may not be a supply of certain produce available during your stay, but then there is always tinned fruit, peas or frozen vegetables.
If you accept all of the above, you'll survive!
Happy holidaying :)
We provide marriage blessing ceremonies on the island of Sal, Cape Verde
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