"2011-SaoTome-19" by Helena Van Eykeren vi aFlickr Creative Commons

The attractions in São Tomé are an exciting mixed bag of sights, ranging from those based in the country’s vast and beautiful natural environment, to those which help travelers to delve deeper into the region’s political and economic history. From national parks filled with amazing fauna and flora, to ancient fortresses that have seen so much of the country’s past, there are enough draws to keep even the most experienced traveler enthralled.

Agostinho Neto

São Tomé Island is home to many cocoa plantations, or roças as they are known colloquially, a fact that is a clear reminder of the country’s long and tumultuous colonial past. One of the largest and most famous plantations is Agostinho Neto, which caretakers have purposefully left in its original, rustic condition. While many other plantations have been renovated and refurbished, the colonial style buildings at Agostinho Neto are covered in vines and creepers that change color with the seasons. Visitors can embark on tours of the facility and, if they’re lucky, even get to sample some of the produce. Address: São Tomé City, São Tomé Island Phone: n/a Website: n/a

Boca de Inferno

Boca de Inferno, which translates into ‘Mouth of Hell’, is one of the most popular spots on the islands. The mouth refers to a section of the coastline which displays a narrow passage in the basaltic rocks. Water wades into the opening under a bridge of rocks but exits the tunnel much more fiercely, making a roaring sound. The sights and sounds are something to witness but once the fanfare has subsided, this part of the coastline is simply a gorgeous place to rest and watch the sunset. Address: Southern coast of São Tomé Island Phone: n/a Website: n/a

Pico de São Tomé

The highest mountain on the islands, Pico de São Tomé, stands at an impressive 6,800-feet high. The mountain is located in the center of São Tomé Island, in the stunning Obo National Park. It is covered in thick forest and makes for great hiking and trekking adventures. The forested area is home to many different species of plant and animal, and there are plenty of opportunities to go bird watching or simply take in the mystical nature of a forest that is so compact that it is only accessible on foot. Address: Obo National Park, Central São Tomé Island Phone: n/a Website: n/a

São João dos Angolares

A tiny town on the eastern coast of São Tomé Island, São João dos Angolares is one of the oldest settlements in the country and home to a few great historical and archeological sites. The town’s main draws are the fishing and the people, and the atmosphere here really does exemplify what it means to live in a small fishing village. Perhaps the most popular historical site in the town is the fortress of São Sebastião, which was built in 1575 to guard over the area. The fort is in great condition, after having been restored many times, and is open for public exploration. Address: Eastern coast of São Tomé Island Phone: n/a Website: n/a

Lagoa Azul

While the country’s coastline is a major attraction, there are also several other bodies of water which are worth a visit. Lagoa Azul, or the Blue Lagoon, lies behind the secluded beaches of Praia dos Tamarindos and Praia das Conchas. Many travelers to the area have remarked that walking into the Blue Lagoon is like walking into paradise. Lagoa Azul is surrounded by massive baobab trees filled with birds chirping their lungs out and the water is a gorgeous shade of blue. This area is not only easy on the eyes but is one of the prime snorkeling and diving spots in the country. Address: Northern coast of São Tomé Island Phone: n/a Website: n/a

Ilhéu das Rolas

Many travelers don’t realize that there are several tiny islands surrounding the main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe. One of the most beautiful set of islets, but also one of the more secluded, is Ilhéu das Rolas. Located just south of São Tomé, these islands are easy to get to and make a nice reprieve from the business of the ‘mainland’. There are a few resorts here which organize great boat trips and water sport excursions. Address: Off the southern coast of São Tomé Island Phone: n/a Website: n/a

Click here for Food and Restaurants in São Tomé e Príncipe