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A São Tomé and Príncipe vacation is authentic and off-the-beaten path, a true exploration of jungle trekking and island lifestyle immersion. Floating in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa, is where you will find these hidden African islands. They beckon with the promise of paradise.
The islands are thick with emerald-coloured rainforests, surrounded by golden sand beaches and crystal-clear waters that exude a forgotten world feel. Here you will find a laid-back natural rhythm of life and a palpable Portuguese influence.
São Tomé is the larger of the two islands. Príncipe is the travelling escapists dream destination, only a short 35-minute flight from its sister island. It's dubbed 'Africa's Galapagos', because it has an incredible amount of plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth. In fact, Príncipe is a protected UNESCO-recognised biosphere reserve, virtually undiscovered and undisturbed.
Watch whales frolic off deserted beaches, explore the jungles with a professional guide, and adjust to Mother Nature's clock in this idyllic destination.
What is There to Do in São Tomé and Príncipe?
For such a tiny island nation, there’s a surprising number of fun things to do in São Tomé and Príncipe. From canoeing down secluded mangrove rivers and exploring crumbling cocoa plantations to enjoying remote beach picnics and snorkelling from boats in the bays. São Tomé and Príncipe holidays are about natural enthrallment, pure and simple.
Obô National Park
This pristine reserve is a true highlight of São Tomé, with more than 700 plant species and 143 different types of birds, some of which are endemic to the islands. It’s a Robinson Crusoe kind of adventure with impenetrable forests, cascading waterfalls and dramatic volcanic landscapes.
One of the best things to see is the Pico Cão Grande, a needle-shaped volcanic plug that towers 370 metres (1 214 feet) above a tropical forest and is often surrounded by swirling mists.
There are several circular walks, with one of the most popular being to Lagoa Amelia – a four-to-five-hour trek to a volcanic crater with awe-inspiring views of the lagoon. Plus, you can do multi-day hikes with overnight stays in rocas (old cocoa plantation houses).
Learn All About São Tomé and Príncipe Culture and Cuisine
The friendly local communities will embrace you into their paradisaical home. There is a beautiful fusion of Portuguese and West African influences. São Tomé and Príncipe culture is nothing short of vibrant, reminiscent of its birdlife and their vivid colours. It is a hub of traditional music, dance, and talented artists showcasing their unique wares.
Coffee and cocoa plantations abound, with some plantation houses being restored into restaurants and eco-tourism ventures. Prepare to be smitten with their quality coffee and chocolate, having well earned their reputation as the ‘chocolate islands’. Cuisine is an art form and dishes are inventive, featuring fresh local ingredients (particularly fish), herbs and decadent tropical fruits. Lunching is a while-away-the-hours affair, often with seven-course tasting menus.
São Tomé and Príncipe Beaches
São Tomé and Príncipe have by far some of the best beaches in the world. Long stretches of soft sand, leaning coconut palms, and often not a soul in sight. Days are spent in warm waters, swimming in discovered rock pools or snorkelling in bays.
São Tomé and Príncipe beaches are also the place to witness a wonderful natural spectacle: turtle nesting and hatching (in season). Hawksbill, Leatherback and Olive Ridley Turtles come to lay their eggs on the shores at night. If you’re lucky enough to be on the islands during hatching, you can marvel at them making their precarious dash to the ocean.
If you love island adventures, hiking, snorkeling, relaxing and exploring different food and cultures, then these remote tropical islands off the west coast of Africa should be on your bucket list.
– Liesel van Zyl, Product Manager at Go2Africa
Is it Safe to Travel to São Tomé?
São Tomé and Príncipe tourism is emerging, it’s still a proverbial best-kept secret. With low tourist numbers, it is a safe destination – partly due to its remote location and relaxed island atmosphere. The commitment of the people of São Tomé and Príncipe is to eco-tourism above all else, keeping the island nation unspoilt and the epitome of tranquillity.
At Go2Africa, we tailor our itineraries with trusted and professional São Tomé and Príncipe resorts, making sure that your travel journey is seamless, and you only have to concentrate on having an incredible time.
What Does a São Tomé and Príncipe Vacation Cost?
Most São Tomé and Príncipe resorts include breakfasts and dinners, giving you the freedom to choose the best local lunch spots and get acquainted with the local delicacies. Accommodation is varied from luxury tented villas to island eco-lodges, and historically restored plantation houses that will transport you a little further back in time. Plus, an activity a day is often included in the rates – which includes anything from Biosphere walking and hiking trails, plantation tours and boat explorations to community visits and stand-up paddle boarding.
The cost of your vacation is entirely dependent on where you choose to stay, what you desire to experience, and for how long – if you ever choose to leave.
Ready to Start Planning Your Island Escape?
Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make a São Tomé and Príncipe vacation that’s right for you: