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What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

It's simple: visit each island. Avoid the mega-resorts during tourist season on Sal and Boa Vista (though they can be really fun with kids during the summer months). Santiago has so much to offer: Tarrafal, Rui Vaz, tabanka festivals, Kriol Jazz Fest. Also: Find a friend with a fishing boat! - Dec 27, 2017
See "highlights" above.

Also add the many local concerts at bars and in restaurants. Cabo Verde has a wealth of talented singers and musicians. Just go out and enjoy.

There are also a few people here who have taken the extra time on their hands to cultivate new hobbies such as fishing and motorbike riding. - Oct 30, 2016

Inter-island travel is great and relatively affordable via plane or ferry. The beaches are fantastic and the community is pretty close. The live music scene is great in Praia, you can see a live concert every night of the week. Also, everyone here either sings, plays an instrument or dances so you are in for a fun night when you go out. When it gets hotter in the summer months, you can escape to a Assomada. It is about 45 minutes from Praia and it is 10-15F degrees cooler in the summer. - May 18, 2014
Go to the beach for snorkeling, swimming, or just lying in the sun. There are two decent---but small---swimming beaches in Praia. About 15 minutes away is a beautiful, longer white sand beach with a nice little restaurant. About 20 minutes in the opposite direction is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cidade Velha (Old City), which has interesting historical significance and is a gorgeous place to see the sunset. There are two different markets, one for fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat and the other for various "stuff." On the other side of Santiago there is the beautiful white sand beach of Tarrafal (the most beautiful beach on the island), and on the way there is a natural park with several beautiful hikes and campgrounds. There are other various sites around the island, including more traditional cities, a black-sand beach, and one of the oldest Kapok trees in the world. I would not say there is SO much to do, but we find ourselves very busy with beautiful places to visit. The other islands are all unique and beautiful, so traveling to them can keep you busy on weekends as well. Flights between islands are about $100-150 roundtrip, and hotel prices vary, with the most expensive being about 100 Euros per night. At this point I have been to five of the nine islands, and in the next year it is our goal to see them all! - Feb 2, 2011
See the islands! Santo Antao is difficult to access but worth the trip - it's a revelation. Fogo is easier to get to and gorgeous. Drink grog, go to the beach every day, fish, swim, hike, party with the excellent locals - Sep 8, 2012
Go to the pool, the beach, drive around the island. - May 23, 2012
Cidade Velha, the old city, is a great day excursion. It is picturesque and historical. The city was the first city founded by Europeans on the continent. This city was the Portuguese's first stop before navigating throughout the west and southern coasts. So there are slave forts and a lot of historic remnants. If you are willing to spend money to travel to the other islands, it's well worth it. Boa Vista and Mindelo are more touristy and see more European visitors than Santiago does. - Sep 19, 2009
Not much. The beaches in Praia are not fit for swimming. You have to travel by car for quite some distance over rough roads to find anything adequate. And if you are used to Caribbean beaches you will be sorely disappointed. Other islands (Sal, Boa Vista, Maio) have nicer beaches but it is quite expensive to travel there. A trip to Sal for the weekend would cost about US$500 for two people. There is no movie theater, clubs are pretty sketchy and the expat community is very small. If you are single, especially a woman, this will be a lonely place. - Feb 6, 2008