Don't Miss Places In São Tomé And Príncipe
The two islands of Sao Tome and Principe lie in the Gulf of Guinea, about 125 miles (200 km) west of Gabon. The islands are extinct volcanoes. Mountain peak, clad in dense forest, rise sharply on the western coasts; the land then slopes gently down to the east. The soil is mixed with volcanic ash, so it is very fertile. The climate is warm and humid.
Around 70 % of the population is made up of Creoles, people of mixed Portuguese and African descent. Many are employed on large farms growing cash crops such as cocoa, while some work in small farms of their own. Others are laborers or crew fishing boats. The islands are poor and depend on foreign aid to help them modernize farming and industry with new equipment.
These are the top ten not to be missed places in the islands of Sao Tome and Principe.
The Praia Jale is a beautiful beach along the Atlantic Ocean that is known as the kingdom of turtles. This magnificent deserted beach extends up to 3 km to the south of the island. Drive along a paved road for about an hour and a half from Sao Tome and you will arrive at this serene beach, watch the waves surf and the currents. It is better to be in the group and use the tablets floating. Very close here is the new Eco lodge Praia Yam which is really nice and well-kept. The beach is almost like paradise. There is hardly anyone around if you choose to go on week days; it is full of coconut trees, cool water and fine sand. It is a beach practically in a state of "wild". It is a Sea Turtle nesting site and preservation camp.
If not for the 3 or 4 wooden houses (small hotel in the middle of the beach) and Viveiros which is the area where they place the turtle eggs, they would think it was on a desert island. Located on the southern tip of the island of São Tomé, near Roca de Porto Alegre. The beach is about 8 km from Ponta da Whale and Boat Anchorage to Rolas. If staying in Rolas (the only hotel in the island) you will enjoy a boat ride and then by jeep to the beach Jale (passing Roça of Porto Alegre and the beach pool). Sao Tome is still an unexplored paradise. Between the months of October and February are the high possibility of seeing sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach. Go visit and explore as it is very worthwhile.
Pico Sao Tome
Sao Tome and Principe is a stunning country to those who enjoy nature in the rough and the Pico Sao Tome or the peak of St. Thomas is no exception. You can enjoy hiking in peace as the country is super safe, so all tourists may feel perfectly free to explore the island. It is situated within the island of São Tomé and requires almost a day to go up to the top. On top it is freezing cold and the presence of the fog consequent can greatly limit the views. The hike to the peak is truly an adventure.
One goes through many cliffs, very difficult places, steep and slippery hill, but it is also confronted with a lovely nature, dense forest, explore many corners of birds, monkeys, butterflies, exotic flowers, the sight of a panoramic landscape, and a beautiful waterfalls.
You can visit the botanical garden. It is a nice place with many interesting plants. The guards do a guided tour (with simple and basic but very hardworking explanations). There are gorgeous plants. There is also a special place for the many orchids and a variety of local and medicinal plants. Well worth the visit even if the access is difficult on a very precarious road.
The Botanical Garden of St. Thomas is one of the best places to visit and support in Sao Tome. This site is a good choice to have a good knowledge of the flora of São Tomé. Here you can learn the rich biodiversity of the island.
The Praia Priscina is a super quiet and deserted beach. It is located about 75 km from the city of São Tomé and St. John Angolares. The beach is not frequented by tourists although it is nice, pretty, and probably not hard to find. This is one of the privileges of visiting St. Thomas, this beach is a tourist location with low pressure and pretty much preserved and presented in its natural state. The site has huge palm trees. If you take a good knife, you can open the coconuts and drink fresh coconut water.
The water here is crystal clear and the sand, very fine. At the coastal shore, there is a good reception, lined with the best restaurants, private pools, bed and breakfast resort inns, and a well paved hiking path to the nearby forest. The Jale beach is about 3 km away from this site and also equally stunning. The beach is fantastic, the trees, the lagoon that forms the electrifying blue water are just a few of its noteworthy features. A mandatory stop is truly required when one is in this part of the Sao Tome Island. The golden sand turns much brighter especially at noon when the heat of the sun is at its peak.
Ana Chaves Bay
At Ana Chaves Bay, a day is not complete without taking a dip on its crystal clear waters. The place itself is very interesting and offers diverse way to spend a day in the sun and sand of Sao Tome. This is not a promenade or chic and developed promenade, but the improvement effort, recovery and cleanup is commendable. Across this bay you can find the most iconic and important buildings of São Tomé (not counting Roças). The Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, banks, ministries, bureaus, and other office buildings.
There are lots of buildings that are not only intricate in detail but also carry a rich colonial design. Most are still in recovery and some are already fully renovated. The beach is very inviting, and it is very pleasant to stroll by the coastal shore especially at sunset. Do not miss a walk along the old street and take pictures of the old structures you can find. Photography is definitely allowed and takes a short time to know every corner and interact with the friendly locals that you will meet from here; they are very friendly and welcoming. Include this bay in your must see places when in the island of Sao Tome.
The Banana Beach can be seen first from above the highway and you will marvel at its beauty the more you find your way to get closer. It can also be admired from the lookout point of the platform near the Roca Belo Monte. And from there you can walk all the way down to the beach. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by the cool wind from the ocean and the thick palm tree you first saw from above. The beach looks deserted and does not have beach facilities, but tourists still manage to swim and enjoy its clean and warm water. It looks like a lonely and solitary beach, but there are barbecue grills made available by the few resort places that are situated along its coastal shore.
The surf and the waves is fun to watch as it smashes on the two huge rocks facing the ocean. It is not so easy to find and takes about more than ten minutes of walk from the main road. The Banana Beach is also accessible by boat from the Resort Confectionery. At night the beach front area comes alive as some musical artists set up a live band show complete with drinks and local cuisine from a nearby pub. This place may not be easy to reach but the reward is far greater than you can imagine. If you plan to spend your summer holidays in the Principe Island, include this place as a must see on your travel itinerary.
Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon)
The Lagoa Azul is located way past the row of idyllic beaches in Sao Tome. It is an ideal snorkeling and dive spots because of its clear blue waters and rich coral reef areas on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Even if the beach is a bit rocky, there are many tourists who enjoy its rich ocean floor where you can find lots of marine life like; the tropical fishes, rays and giant turtles.
The beach is also laid with complete facilities to assure a pleasant and comfortable stay in the island. There are beach tables, parasols and loungers for rent, as well as picnic areas that are equipped with clean drinking water, bathroom, and toilets. There is no entrance fee but the rent for the available facilities is collected at the end of the day. The sunset view is a must and truly inspiring and relaxing after having a busy day exploring its shores and the ocean floor.
Obo Natural Park
For travelers who delight in outdoor activities with a nice background of unexploited nature, the Obo Natural Park is the ideal spot to satisfy their hunger for a different kind of adventure. The Sao Tome and Principe offers it equally intriguing volcanic geography to every curious guest. This site has been the favorite exploration sites for scientific studies of every plant. It lush and rich green scenery have been carefully examined by medical researchers, botanists, and all types of nature researchers and explorers.
As from the latest count, there are over 700 types of local plants (counting 100 kinds of endemic orchids) and 150 species of rare birds that can only be found in this part of the country. Researchers are still confronted with a secret how such an expansive wild qualities of species are in abundance on a remote area like the Sao Tome and Principe Island's. The Obo Natural Park on Sao Tome is 30 minutes from the city and it gives magnificent conceivable outcomes to explorers and for those who yearn for having a deep connection with nature.
Fort Sao Sebastiao
Built during the 16th century, this old fortress is one of the last remaining landmarks to show this island have been once invaded and colonized by the Portuguese. The Fort Sao Sebastiao shows its imposing presence as it overlooks the harbor that leads to the main entrance of the city. Nowadays, it serves as a museum and houses a huge collection of artifacts dating back to the day it was first discovered (1470). If you want to understand the history of this small volcanic island starting from the Portuguese slavery (1800’s) and their harsh rule. Pictures are allowed and moments of contemplation must be observed in one part of the fort where hundreds of protesting slaves were massacred.
Colonial Roca Plantations
The old plantation buildings that use to house the cocoa farms (Rocas) has now become a tourist attraction for the purpose of history and importance. The plantations can be visited in the highland areas of Sao Tome.
The Colonial Roca Plantations are now mostly converted into hotels, restaurants, and fine dining places with a hint of antiquity in its theme and presentation. Although it has established the country as one of the leading sources during the 1900’s, this top revenue earner still remains as their number one export. This place and some of its old landmarks are still preserved and maintained for tourism purposes.
Boca de Inferno (Hell’s Mouth)
It is one of the most natural water attractions in the Southern part of Sao Tome. At Boca de Inferno, you can witness an amazing phenomenon by observing the movement of the waves. Take a vantage point and marvel at the scene where you can see the waves push their way into a constricted space in a ravine and directly flows into the cave and then shoots up its full strength and force through the holes.
These blowholes make a good scene especially when the waves from this side of the island turn really rough. Be ready to get wet and have fun as you observe the water from its viewing deck.