Stable isotopes (??18O, ??2H), tritium (3H), and helium isotopes (3He, 4He) were used for evaluating groundwater recharge sources, flow paths, and residence times of three watersheds in the Cape Verde Islands (West Africa). Stable isotopes indicate the predominance of high-elevation precipitation that undergoes little evaporation prior to groundwater recharge. In contrast to other active oceanic hotspots, environmental tracers show that deep geothermal circulation does not strongly affect groundwater. Low tritium concentrations at seven groundwater sites indicate groundwater residence times of more than 50 years. Higher tritium values at other sites suggest some recent recharge. High 4He and 3He/4He ratios precluded 3H/3He dating at six sites. These high 3He/4He ratios (R/Ra values of up to 8.3) are consistent with reported mantle derived helium of oceanic island basalts in Cape Verde and provided end-member constraints for improved dating at seven other locations. Tritium and 3H/3He dating shows that S??o Nicolau Island's Ribeira Faj?? Basin has groundwater residence times of more than 50 years, whereas Fogo Island's Mosteiros Basin and Santo Ant??o Island's Ribeira Paul Basin contain a mixture of young and old groundwater. Young ages at selected sites within these two basins indicate local recharge and potential groundwater susceptibility to surface contamination and/or salt-water intrusion. ?? Springer-Verlag 2009.