There’s something wonderful about visiting a place many people have barely heard of and would have trouble pinpointing on a map. Okay, maybe the Weather Channel fans might recognize the Cape Verde Islands (officially, the Republic of Cabo Verde) as the place where many Atlantic hurricanes form, but this volcanic 10-island archipelago located 500 kilometers (310 miles) off the northwestern coast of Africa is more prone to drought than tropical deluges. The arid, mountainous landscape, fringed by beaches, is home to about 500,000 people. The archipelago was a Portuguese colony from 1495 until achieving independence in 1975, and Mindelo is the capital of one of the northernmost islands, São Vicente. With its rich Portuguese-Creole-African culture, this city is the nation’s musical epicenter, and morna—an appealing fusion of Portuguese and African rhythms—is the signature sound. Mindelo's cobblestoned streets are lined with music clubs and bars, and several lively festivals take place here throughout the year. Colorful colonial-style buildings surround the deep-blue harbor, along which you’ll find a small-scale reproduction of Lisbon’s landmark Tower of Belém.