São Tomé e Príncipe, or São Tomé for short, is the second smallest country in Africa. However, what this magical country lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in sights, activities, and a culture that is complex and exciting. Many often overlook São Tomé, which is just off the West African coast, but those that do are missing out. These two stunning islands are bursting with tourism potential and simply waiting to be explored.
São Tomé’s natural environment is perhaps best discovered through activities such as blood-pumping water sports, challenging mountaineering adventures, or encounters with the country’s fauna and flora. Indeed, there is something for every traveler inclination here. Those with less of a sense of adventure need not be concerned, however, as there are many activities geared toward cultural absorption and relaxation.
São Tomé’s sights are just as attractive as its activities. Travelers are sure to have an exciting sightseeing experience as the landmarks on offer are diverse. This country is no one-trick pony; it offers travelers everything from historical landmarks and an amazing natural environment, to regions that seem to take a few steps back in time.
Tourism in the country over the last few years has increased significantly, which means accommodation and hospitality options today are plentiful and diverse. There are many options to suit every traveler budget and need. There are five-star resorts, especially in the coastal and beach regions, but there are also more humble, guesthouse type lodgings in the urban areas. The local fare is well worth a try but is often quite spicy. There are many international cuisines on offer for travelers looking for a bit more variety or simply less heat.
São Tomé is an incredibly beautiful country. Understandably, its most attractive feature is its vast and unending coastline, which not only provides ample opportunity for adventure sports, but is an aesthetically beautiful backdrop to any vacation. What many travelers overlook, however, is that the interior of both islands is just as beautiful as the coast, boasting such features as expansive national parks, mountain ranges, and luscious rainforests.
The climate here is best described as a tropical and equatorial climate. The island is characterized by high levels of rainfall, high levels of humidity, and warm temperatures almost year-round. In São Tomé there are two dry seasons (June-September, and December-February) and two wet seasons (October-December, and March-May) - The dry seasons are nice because precipitation is minimized and the temperature hovers high, but the warmer weather makes hiking and other forms of physical exertion exponentially more difficult. The best time to visit São Tomé depends on what you are going there for: beaches are best in the dry season and mountains are cooler in the wet season.
Traveling around São Tomé can be tricky as there are limited public transportation options. Car rental is possible as there are many local and international car rental agencies in the country, but the quality of the roads in most areas makes independent driving dangerous. Shared taxis can be taken all over major cities and are a cheap and convenient choice. There are neither train networks nor private coach services, so minibus shared taxis are really the only ways to navigate between regions.
- Snorkel and scuba dive in West Africa’s clear waters
- Tour one of the many cocoa or sugar plantations
- Taste the finest chocolates at a real life chocolate factory
- Swim in the breathtaking waters of the Blue Lagoon
- Watch whales frolic in the deep blue sea during mating season
- Learn about the country’s history at the Fortress of São Sebastião