São Tomé and Príncipe is a country comprised of two truly wild & untouched islands in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa. Often described as the “African Galapagos”, these islands offer a rare glimpse into the natural world stood still for hundreds of years. If you are looking for an outdoors adventure miles off the beaten tourist track, then the leafy paradise of São Tomé and Príncipe may just be exactly what you are looking for.

São Tomé

São Tomé, the southern and larger island, is where your plane will land – some like to spend a few days here exploring the capital; seeing how the locals live & learning about the rich history of the country. However, many like to take a flight the next day up to Príncipe Island and immerse themselves in the incredible nature it is so heralded for.

Upon arrival, many notice how the wildlife is not cautious around humans – the birds do not fly away, rather curiously watch you from a nearby perch. Much like Ecuador’s Galapagos, because these islands have never been connected to mainland, they have their own unique eco-system, species & captivating atmosphere.

Today, although the economy has struggled since its independence in 1975 from the Portuguese, it is a very peaceful country and opens its arms to the tourism industry, hopefully without losing its undiscovered charm which makes it such a magical holiday destination.

Where is São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe is located off the West coast of Africa, with its closest mainland countries being Gambon for the bigger São Tomé Island, and Equatorial Guinea for Príncipe Island. The Islands are around 140km apart from each other and are located around 225km off the coast line in the Gulf of Guinea.

What is the capital of São Tomé and Príncipe?

Confusingly, São Tomé is actually the capital of both the islands (São Tomé and Príncipe). It can be an interesting place to spend a day or two learning about its Portuguese colonial history – the capital was first the centre for the Atlantic slave trade, and then was a hugely productive spot for coffee and cocoa cultivation. Today, the locals are relaxed and friendly, adding a huge amount of charisma of visiting the country that time forgot.

How to get to São Tomé and Príncipe?

Sao Tome and Principe is not the easiest country in the world to get to but being off the beaten tourist track means you mostly have the islands to yourself, so we wouldn’t want it any other way. From many destinations around the world, the mainland connecting airport from your flights coming into West Africa is usually Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana. From here, to get to Sao Tome is around 1hr 40minutes. Not too difficult, but many times you may have to overnight in Accra before flying out the next day, which isn’t always a bad thing as this will allow you to recharge your batteries so you can fully enjoy all of your time on the islands. Flights from Sao Tome to Principe Island operate daily.

São Tomé and Príncipe tourism – Why go on a São Tomé and Príncipe holiday?

  • It is a rare slice of untouched island life. For those who don’t like the bustle of tourism, then there is possibly nowhere better to get lost than on these islands – you really feel as though you are discovering a paradise of natural wonders and the palpable history all for yourself.
  • The unspoilt jungles will delight birders & wanderers alike. Not a big mammal destination as it has always been separate from mainland West Africa, but one for those who appreciate the little things from insects, to frogs, to the extremely rare & endangered São Tomé fiscal – there is so much to see here for nature connoisseurs.
  • Activities for true adventurers; there is so much to do here from deep sea fishing, to snorkelling, to relaxing on the beach and on to jungle treks, birding and whale watching. Something for everyone in this lost world of a bygone era.
  • Eco tourism at its finest: The only few lodges where you can stay on the islands completely revolve around and pride themselves on eco-tourism, and here, unlike many other destinations, you can truly educate yourself on & immerse yourself in the conservation projects on the island.

    Things to do in São Tomé and Príncipe?

  • Where do we begin?! For further information on the activities offered at each individual lodge and island, please see our individual pages. For a taster though, there are activities for all sorts of travellers from the most intrepid, to those who like to sit back and soak up the surrounding nature. Activities to be enjoyed in São Tomé and Príncipe range from whale & bird watching, to hikes, to scuba diving or simply sauntering around a fishing village enjoying the local bustle of island life.

    São Tomé and Príncipe hotels – Where to stay

  • Bom Bom – In the very north of Principe Island.
  • Praia Sundy – On Principe, to the west of Bom Bom and also on the coast.
  • Omali – Just outside Sao Tome, the capital. Only 1.5km from the airport, this is a great place to base yourself after a long international flight.
  • Roca Sundy – In land, making it unique in this sense. Located on Principe, to the south of its sister, Praia Sundy.

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