São Tomé & Príncipe

An island nation of pristine beaches, rainforest, colonial architecture and friendly locals

Africa’s second smallest nation after the Seychelles, the former Portuguese colony of São Tomé and Príncipe can be found on the Equator, 225 km west of Gabon in West Africa.  These islands are virtually untouched by tourism and if you choose to visit you will definitely feel you are on the road less travelled.  Despite this, the islands have lovely boutique luxury hotel choices, plenty of activities and gorgeous landscapes and wildlife.  Not to be missed are:

  • The larger island of São Tomé, once the world’s largest cocoa exporter where you can still visit cocoa plantations.
  • A visit to São Tomé in mid August for the Auto de Felipes annual street theatre clash between the fiery Moors and cool Christians – more carnival than performance.
  • The impenetrable forests of Príncipe with over 25 endemic bird species including parrots and kingfishers.  Jungle has overtaken many old plantation buildings and you can find churches enclosed by the roots of trees like in Angkor Wat.
  • A hike to the summit of Pico Papagaio – its name means Parrot Mountain and en route you will definitely see parrots and kingfishers.
  • Stunning golden sand beaches on Príncipe, especially the photogenic Praia Boi and Praia Banana.
  • From September to April, Leatherback, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles lay their eggs in the sands of Praia Grande on Príncipe.
  • From August to October you can see humpback whales cruise past in the offshore waters of Príncipe.
  • All flights to São Tomé and Príncipe go via Lisbon, so tack on a few days in the lively Portuguese capital as part of your trip.

Walking in são tomé & príncipe

The most beautiful side of São Tomé and Príncipe is its forests and national parks.  In fact huge parts of each island are devoted to these.  As a result there is some lovely and varied hiking.  Hiking is best done with a guide although the more adventurous might do some walking alone.  A hike to the summit of Pico do Papagaio on Príncipe will take around six hours but reward you with sightings of endemic monkeys and birds and at the top a jaw dropping 360 degree view.  Also on the islands you can do shorter walks taking you to waterfalls for wild swimming, along beaches and through countryside where you will see the ruins of plantation houses.  

Key Facts about São Tomé & Príncipe

São Tomé & Príncipe Photo Gallery

Here are photos from our recent trip to São Tomé & Príncipe. Click on an image to launch the slideshow.

Ideas for a tip to São Tomé & Príncipe

Here are some ideas for trips to São Tomé & Príncipe all of which can be adapted for you and we are always happy to create a bespoke trip from scratch.

From £3800

per person

Off the beaten track Sao Tome with hiking

This is an active adventure holiday to Sao Time (not Príncipe). After a night at Omali Lodge on the outskirts of Sao Tome City you head west towards the town of Neves where you start the west to east island traverse, during which the going will be hard in places! This rewarding 3-day jungle trek through the rainforests around the Obo National Park takes you to the foot of Pico do Sao Tome, the islands’ highest peak (2024m). There is an option to climb the peak (subject to weather and fitness) before descending on rough jungle trails to the east coast, where you’ll have a well-deserved rest in the beautifully restored Roca Sao Joao. After your amazing trek, the second part of your trip is more relaxed, though there is still plenty to see and you’ll have time to visit the equator monument, mangroves and swim.

From £4395-£5075

per person

Best of São Tomé & Príncipe

Start off with a 2-night stay in Omali Lodge on Sao Tome, after which you fly to beautiful Principe for 7 nights. During this time, you will be based at the atmospheric Roca Sundy and secluded, uniquely stylish Sundy Praia. A variety of interesting activities is included in the rates for the properties on Principe: you will be able to embark on rainforest walks; meet resident communities and learn about their history, culture and everyday lives, and of course, spend time relaxing on sunny beaches for which Principe is appreciated. After your 7-night stay on Principe, fly back to Sao Tome for an overnight stay in Omali Lodge. On Sao Tome island itself, we include a privately guided excursion to Obo Natural Park and a guided City Tour

From £3950-£4425

Per person

Wild São Tomé & Príncipe

Start with 4 nights on Sao Tome at the relaxed Omali Lodge, your comfortable base for exploring the larger of the two islands. Our selected range of excursions will give you the opportunity to explore a rainforest trail and take in some birding; enjoy a culinary experience and visit the quiet, remote beaches on the wilder southern coast. Then flit off to Principe, a delightful island where you enjoy a break at the stylish and atmospheric Roca Belo Monte, which has access to five very photogenic beaches, notably the glorious Praia Banana. Enjoy warm hospitality, good food and apart from relaxing and taking in the ambience, you might wish to try some of the many activities possible here, such as scuba diving, turtle watching (in season), and hiking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions that haven't been answered here? Send your questions to enquiries@shearwatertravel.co.uk and we'll try our best to help.

No visa needed for UK citizens for stays of 15 days or less.  More details available on the FCO Travel Advice pages

Usual immunisations should be up to date and Hepatitis A and Tetanus are also advised. You may want to consider Malaria tablets. For latest advice visit the NHS travel pages 

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