Money & Shopping
São Tomé and Príncipe uses the Dobra, which is a restricted currency (the import and export of local currency is prohibited). The import of foreign currency is unlimited subject to declaration, and you may export only up to the amount you import. Travelers' cheques are generally not recommended. Euros, and sometimes dollars, are commonly accepted at larger restaurants and shops.
Shopping is limited, but there are a few things worth purchasing, and possibly of export quality:
Coffee. Sao Tome was famous for its coffee. The quality suffered a bit after the newly-independent Sao Tome government broke up the old rocas into sharecropper lots, but given the quality of the volcanic soil the coffee was still great. There has been a recent surge in interest in Sao Tome coffee, mostly due to Claudio Corrallo’s work, but you can walk into any shop in Sao Tome and get great coffee cheap.
Rum. Sao Tome has two rum factories within an easy trip: 'Gravana, which is sold out of a car repair shop next to the Central Market, and Me-Zochi which is in Trindad behind the church. Prices of a one liter bottle of rum vary from USD 3 – 7 depending on the price of sugar. Gravana rum is dark and sweet, and is best served over ice and savored like a scotch. Me-Zochi rum is also good, but the factory also sells different types of liqueurs made from local fruits. Most of their product is shipped to Europe.
Baskets. Baskets are part and parcel of everyday life in Sao Tome. Therefore they are plentiful and cheap. They are not fancy but have their charm.
Miscellaneous Tourist Stuff. Ossobbo is across from the Fort Sao Sebastiao. The shop features local artisans and products of Sao Tome, from coffee, chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla to carvings, t-shirts and thumb drives. Prices are reasonable, but the best part is the shop is run by the non-profit Sisters of Misericordia; all profits go to the craftsmen or charitable works.