While everybody’s idea of holiday perfection is undoubtedly very different, if your idea of the ideal destination is one of seclusion, rather than rows of resorts and tourists stacked on the sand like sardines, SÇ¶o Tomé & PrÇ¶ðncipe should be just the ticket for you.
Hugging the equator, the outcrops forming the smallest, and probably least known, African state of SÇ¶o Tomé & PrÇ¶ðncipe belong to a chain of long extinct volcanoes. Yet to be discovered by serious tourism, this Gulf of Guinea chain is hidden just west of Gabon.
Discover miles of unspoilt sandy beaches, frequented only by local fishermen; watch humpbacks and turtles at play in crystal clear waters; explore the jungle interior or climb the 2,024 m (6,640 ft) peak of Pico de SÇ¶o Tomé for magnificent views.
Set in old colonial plantation houses, the hotels on SÇ¶o Tomé & PrÇ¶ðncipe offer a comfortable, atmospheric base from which to explore the many delights awaiting you.
Top Sights & Things to Do
Situated on SÇ¶o Tomé’s southern edge, Praia Jalé is a great place to watch giant sea turtles leave the ocean to lay eggs. The guarded beach has small huts with no electricity, where you can stay the night. Guards will wake you in time to watch this amazing spectacle.
Surrounded by giant Baobab trees packed with an abundance of bird species, Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul) is excellent for snorkelling, but has a rather rocky beach, unlike the nearby gorgeous and secluded beaches of Praia dos Tamarindos and Praia das Conchas. Make sure to find Saint Nikolaus waterfall (Cascata SÇ¶o NicolÇ¶u) a few miles up in the jungle-covered mountains. Incredibly beautiful, it appears to spring right out of a jungle wall.
SÇ¶o Tomé harbour is home to an old fortress now used as the SÇ¶o SebastiÇ¶o Museum, featuring an array of colonial artefacts and a collection of religious art, as well as fantastic ocean views from its roof. SÇ¶o Tomé Town has a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of restaurants, shops and more.
The dramatic landscapes and virgin jungle of the slightly smaller island of PrÇ¶ðncipe are perfect for exploration, and there are also some gorgeous beaches. Activities on offer include fishing, boat trips and outstanding snorkelling.
Nearby Must-See Sights
The surrounding underwater world is spectacular and packed with exotic marine life including green sea turtles, octopuses and moraines, and the stunningly beautiful little islet of Ilhéu das Rolas is well worth a visit, although an upscale dive resort here will mean more hustle and bustle.
Boca de Inferno, or Hell’s Mouth, is a natural phenomenon just a little south of the island of SÇ¶o Tomé. The spectacular cascades shooting in the air as water is forced up through the hole in the roof of a cave are particularly dramatic when the black cliffs are hit by big waves.
Best Time to Go
March to May offer hot temperatures perfect for beach lovers, while the slightly cooler temperatures from June to September are ideal for inland explorations. July to October is best for Whale watching.
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