Introducing Sao Tome And Principe

Sao Tome and Principe © Maria Cartas

Forget the Caribbean or Bali, the remote island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe in the Gulf of Guinea is a land brimming with natural resources and breathtaking scenery, but far removed from mass tourism. From volcanic peaks to underwater caves, São Tomé and Príncipe is the perfect destination for an exotic holiday in paradise.

These two relaxed islands form Africa's second-smallest country after the Seychelles, and both were uninhabited before the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century. Travellers should head to the colonial capital of São Tomé to admire the distinctive architecture and enjoy the cooling sea breeze, or visit the fortress museum at Sao Sabastiao to discover colonial art and religious artefacts.

Trek through unspoilt rainforests and explore the cascading waterfalls, laze on sun-drenched beaches while palm fronds rustle overhead, or dive and snorkel in uncharted turquoise waters. Visitors can appreciate the islands' natural biodiversity by doing some bird-watching, or by visiting the turtle-nesting grounds at Obo National Park and the Boca do Inferno Blowhole.

Savour the islands' Portuguese-Creole soul and enjoy the local island rhythms and flavours by feasting on delicious seafood, fresh fruit and some of the world's finest coffee. Visit the colourful Sao Tome market, or one of the many old plantations, where slaves once toiled to produce cocoa, coffee and sugar.

With only a handful of tourists arriving per week, you can be sure you will be enjoying your very own slice of tropical heaven well off the beaten track. However you decide to pass the time in São Tomé and Príncipe, make sure you do it slowly.

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