Prior to the Portuguese invasion, both Sao Tome and Principe were uninhabited. Much of the terrain has remained unaltered since then, or has been reclaimed by the rainforests where old plantations once stood. The islands, which are covered in beautiful rainforests and have a tiny population and few tourists, are a true tropical paradise for visitors.
Obo National Park is located in the interior of Sao Tome Island. Find a local guide to take you bird-watching, climbing the 2,024-meter Pico de Sao Tome, trekking to a hidden waterfall, or trying to find as many of the island’s 109 orchid species as possible. In a spectacular display for tourists, waves enter an undersea cave on the south side of Sao Tome island and, with nowhere else to go, shoot straight up through the Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell) blowhole. The remote beaches on Principe are both stunningly gorgeous and romantic…don’t blame yourself if you feel like you’re on a South Pacific island.
Coral reefs with a diverse range of marine life—including a few endemics—are only offshore, since the seas between neighboring islands and the mainland exceed 2,000 meters! Diving and snorkeling are great opportunities to see the underwater side of this paradise, where you may see dolphins, big green turtles, and a variety of colorful fish up close. Divers who are experienced and brave may even explore underwater caverns.
Fort So Sebastio is one of the few man-made attractions on the islands. Built in 1575, the fort was renovated in 2006 and is now the National Museum of So Tomé. At night, the fort is extremely stunning. A tour of one of the islands’ colonial-era plantations—roças—is required for all visitors, and these may range from centuries-old structures slowly becoming overrun by rainforest to beautifully restored ones functioning as bed-and-breakfasts. Monte Café, one of the most readily accessible, has a new coffee museum built up and is pleasant and welcoming due to its location in the highlands. The market in Sao Tome, like many others in the area, is a busy, colorful event, and photographers will appreciate the city’s charming colonial architecture.
The seas off the coast of Sao Tome are crystal clean and teeming with life. As a result, diving, fishing, and boat excursions offer plenty of opportunities to view the sights. Club Maxel [web] is one of the few operators that provides these activities. Both islands include beautiful woods that are ideal for trekking.
Take a stroll. The traffic is low, the sea air is refreshing, and the architecture and people are worth seeing. Sao Tome’s capital city is brimming with public art. Local artists’ paintings and sculptures, as well as ancient Portuguese monuments, may be seen around the city. Frequently, when you go down the street and round a corner, you will come face to face with a vibrant and lively artwork right in front of you.
Chocolate by Claudio Corallo. On request, tours of his chocolate factory are given. He or one of his sons will joyfully explain the appallingly substandard chocolate that is sold all across the globe. Claudio has full control over the chocolate production process, from cultivating the cacao pods on his own farm on Principe to packaging the chocolate in vacuum-sealed sterile chambers. During the presentation, he gives out a lot of free samples and sells all of his goods right there in the demonstration area. It’s pricey, but it’s well worth it.