My boyfriend and I recently went on a holiday to Cape Verde. We stayed in the Riu Touareg hotel, which is on Boa Vista, and had an absolutely amazing week away. I also celebrated my 23rd birthday whilst we were out there, which made it extra special.
You can book this hotel through Tui, however, we booked through Holiday Hypermarket as they had a much better deal on there. I would recommend it to anyone if they were thinking of going! I’ve put together this post as a little review/guide to help anyone if they wanted to know a bit more about the hotel before booking it.
The hotel itself is absolutely huge! It is the second biggest Riu hotel in the entire world. It has 12 blocks, 1151 rooms, 3 pools, 6 restaurants, many bars and a few little shops, and is a 24-hour all-inclusive (apart from the shops obviously), 5-star hotel. We actually stayed in the Adult’s Only section, block 1, room 1101. The rooms itself was lovely, very clean and tidy, didn’t smell (we were warned before we went that some of the rooms had a foul sewage smell to them) and had a lovely view. It wasn’t quite a sea-view room, however, if you leant around the corner of the balcony you could see a bit of the sea and beach. The room itself had beautiful African décor throughout. The only let down we had was that our door handle broke on the first day and we got stuck in the room for a bit, and there is no light in the shower so its quite dark. But other than that, we couldn’t fault it! We especially enjoyed the animals that the maid’s made out of the towels and blankets every time they cleaned the room.
Staying in an Adults Only room meant that we had a slightly nicer room and bathroom, and also got a mini fridge which was stocked up with soft drinks, beer and water (all still included with the all-inclusive) and an optics which contained vodka, rum, whisky and brandy. Staying in the Adults Only section also meant that we had access to the Adults Only pool and à la carte restaurant. I’ll go onto both of these later in the post.
The sunbed situation wasn’t too bad; however, it also wasn’t the best. You didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn to get a sunbed, as you could have easily come down around 9am and still get two beds together, however, they weren’t likely to have much shade. We found that we usually left our room about 8am, put our towels down on the sunbed and then went for breakfast. We always manged to get sunbeds which had shade for at least some of the day which was nice. To get beds with an umbrella you would be looking at getting up around 7am, and to get a cabana you would be having to get up around 4/5am, which obviously we did not do, because we were on holiday. Absolute madness getting up at 4am on your holiday, no thank you.
There isn’t much to say about the staff at the hotel apart from the fact that they all were so lovely and couldn’t do enough for you! Even at the general buffet restaurant they would show you to a table and get your drinks for you. They were always engaging in conversations especially when Connor was wearing his football and basketball shirts. They even got me a card and t-shirt on my birthday.
The hotel has three pools; the main pool which is the largest pool and even has a pool bar, an infinity pool and then the Adult’s Only pool. The main pool was the liveliest and had activities put on throughout the day, and the Adult’s Only pool was much more chilled out, with music and its own bar. We spent the majority of our time around the adult pool, as it was much more relaxing, a bit quieter and easier to get a drink or snack if you wanted one. We never really went to the infinity pool for a couple of reasons, the first being that it was over the other side of the hotel to where our room was, and it also got very busy.
The pools are all saltwater, however its hardly noticeable. The also have showers around them for you to use both before and after you are in the pool. One of my favourite parts of the pools were that they had sunbeds in them, so that you could lay in the sun but keep cool still from the water. The pools aren’t heated, so when you first get in in the morning they are quite cold but warmed up by the afternoon after the sun had been on it for a while.
Food & Drink
There is a total of six restaurants in the hotel, which include a main buffet restaurant, a grill restaurant, an Italian restaurant, an Asian restaurant, a Cape Verdean restaurant and an Adult’s Only restaurant. You have to book into the themed restaurants (do this when you arrive as they get booked up), but you can go into the main buffet restaurant without having to book. We decided to eat in all of the restaurants as you could book into the themed ones once during your trip. We wanted to do this so that we could eat somewhere different every evening.
There was always such a huge variety of food available in every restaurant, and it was always delicious! My favourite ones were the Italian and the Asian, as they are my favourite types of foods anyway, so I would always love an all-you-can-eat buffet for either of those. The food in the Adults Only restaurant, especially the beef fillet! However, it had a really weird atmosphere, as there were only about 6 tables, and it was absolutely silent, no background music whatsoever. Connor and I found it slightly uncomfortable as we definitely were not posh enough for it and ended up getting the giggles out of awkwardness (and alcohol).
Around the pool you could get a selection of hot drinks, soft drinks, alcohol and cocktails. The glasses that you got from the bar were quite small, so luckily before we went we were given a tip to take large thermal glasses. The bar staff were happy to fill up your cups, and it just meant that you got a much bigger drink that stayed cold, and you didn’t have to keep trekking up to the bar every few minutes. The only downside to the drinks was that in the restaurant you couldn’t get mixers or cocktails, only wine and beer, which was fine for Connor, however, I’m not a huge wine drinker, so mainly ended up drinking coke with dinner.
Giggling Geckos are a small business on the island which offer small group, informative, frank and fun tours. We discovered them through a Facebook page for guests of the hotel. We went on their ‘Santa Monica Spectacular’ which is a fantastic way to discover the south and west coasts of Boa Vista! It was a 4-hour self-drive guided quad tour which allowed you to see the spectacular and stunning scenery around these coastlines but also to put our quad driver skills to the test.
You start off relatively easy so you can familiarise with the quad, and then go to the first stop which is the oldest settlement on the island, Povoacao Velha located central south west on Boa Vista. Then we went to Santa Monica beach which included a bit of sand driving! After this, we made our way along the south coast manoeuvring sandy tracks and rocky “roads” to Varandinha beach which is one of the best beaches on the island! You then drive on to Morro de Areia to then conquer the dunes of Chaves! Taking in the picturesque views along the west coast winding through the 6-8 kms of dunes we then went back along dust tracks, cobbled roads, a bit more dune driving!
We chose to go with them rather than on a Tui tour as they offer an alternative to large group generic tours and focus on the personal touch and supporting the local community.
We thought that the entertainment was fairly basic, but to be honest we never really saw much of it. Every time we went out to the bars either before or after dinner, there didn’t really seem to be much happening, maybe a guy with a guitar, but that was about it. There was only two nights when we actually saw full entertainment, and one of those was the entertainers performing songs throughout the decades which was really good, and the other was a live music night. However, the live music wasn’t actually live music – it was a DJ. Many other people have said that the entertainment was really good, so maybe we were just always there at the wrong time.
The beaches in Boa Vista were absolutely beautiful, however, we didn’t spend that much time at the beach because the red flag was up for our entire trip, which meant that the sea was too dangerous to go swimming in. Whilst on our quad bike tour with Giggling Geckos we stopped at Santa Monica beach, which was hands down the most beautiful beach that I had ever seen. It was just sand and water, and that was it. No roads, no cars, no shops, no litter, nothing – it was one of the most peaceful places I had ever been, and I could have stayed there for hours!
Definitely wear a high-factor sunscreen around the pool as it can get extremely hot, and you can still get burnt even if it is really cloudy (that’s the most dangerous time). Luckily we didn’t get too burnt, just a little pink – which is quite impressive for me and my pale skin. I used factor 30 all holiday and made sure to top up every time I got out of the pool.
Before we went we were told that the mosquitos are everywhere, and it was almost impossible not to come back covered in bites. We went during their rainy season too (even though it only rained once badly during the night, and slightly for a couple of minutes on one day), which meant that mosquitos were much more prominent. However, as someone who is quite prone to getting bitten (I once came home from Spain with 27 bites) I did not get bitten once! We made sure to have mosquito repellent on both day and night and topped up every time we got out of the pool.
If you don’t like cats, then this hotel may not be the best one for you. This hotel is absolutely full of cats! The are all really friendly though and didn’t bother us whatsoever. You can feed them little bits of food and they will take it and walk off- they don’t beg at all. I’m not a huge cat lover, but these ones are so cute.
Overall, we had such an amazing time at this hotel, and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone! I had a lot of pros with only some cons but for the price we paid, you can’t knock it! Yes, this is a 5-star hotel, but you have to remember it is still in a developing country, so if you are used to luxury 5-star hotels, this may not live up to your expectations. But for us, it was perfect.