Sao Tome and Principe

Things to see

Things to see

Sao Tome & Principe were both uninhabited prior to colonization by the Portuguese. Since then, much of the landscape has remained unchanged or, where former plantations once stood, reclaimed by the rainforests. The islands are covered by lush rainforests and with a small population and very few tourists, and remain for visitors a veritable tropical paradise.

The interior of Sao Tome island contains Obo National Park . Find a local guide to take you bird-watching, climb 2,024-meter Pico de Sao Tome, trek to a secluded waterfall, or try to spot as many of the island's 109 species of orchids as you can. Waves enter an underwater cave on the south side of Sao Tome island and, with nowhere to go, shoot straight up through the Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell) blowhole in an impressive show for visitors. The isolated beaches on Principe are both breathtakingly beautiful and romantic...don't blame yourself for feeling like you're on a deserted island in the South Pacific.

Just offshore are coral reefs with a large diversity of sea life—including a few endemics as the waters between other islands and the mainland reach 2,000 meters! Diving and snorkeling are the ideal ways to explore the underwater side of this paradise, during which you can come face-to-face with dolphins, large green turtles, and a wide array of colorful fish. Experienced and daring divers can even explore underwater caves.

Among the few human-made sights on the islands is Fort São Sebastião. Built in 1575, the fort was refurbished in 2006 and is now the São Tomé National Museum. The fort is absolutely beautiful at night. Essential for every visitor is a tour of one of the islands' colonial-era plantations—roças—which lie in many different states, from centuries-old buildings slowly being overgrown by rainforest to lovingly refurbished ones operating as bed-and-breakfasts. One of the more easily accessible, Monte Café, has a new coffee museum set and, since it is in the mountains, is cool and inviting. The Sao Tome market is, like many in the region, a bustling, colorful experience while photographers will love city's quaint colonial-style architecture.

  • Eddington's PlaqueSundy Plantation, Príncipe Island. In 1919, Arthur Stanley Eddington and his team visited Príncipe to test Einstein's Theory of Relativity. During a solar eclipse, they could see stars behind the sun, which helped to prove it true. There is now an informational plaque on the site.

Things to do

The waters around Sao Tome are clear and rich with life. Consequently, diving, fishing and boat tours provide much to see. One of the few operators that offers these activities is Club Maxel [www] . The forests of both islands lend themselves wonderfully to hiking.

Walk Around. Traffic is light, the sea breeze is cooling, and you can admire the architecture and people. The capitol city of Sao Tome is replete with public art. Painting and carvings by local artists, in addition to old Portuguese statues, can be found throughout the city. Oftentimes you will walk down the street and turn a corner to come up suddenly against a colorful and sprightly painting right in front of you.

Claudio Corallo Chocolate. Tours of his chocolate factory are give on request. He or one of his sons will gleefully describes the shocking inferior stuff that passes for chocolate around the world. Claudio maintains complete control of the chocolate making process, from growing the pods on his own plantation on Principe through to packaging the chocolate in his own vacuum-sealed clean rooms. He gives copious free samples during the demonstration, and sells all his products right there in the demonstration room. Expensive but worth it.

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Sao Tome and Principe - Travel guide

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