Classic Sao Tome & Principe Escape
Venture off the coast of West Africa on this Classic Sao Tome & Principe Escape to find lush rainforests, sapphire seas and nature at its unique finest.
Blessed with almost year-round perfect weather conditions, there are no overly busy peak seasons or specific months to travel in Sao Tome & Principe. With different highlights throughout the seasons, the best time to travel depends on what you’d like to see and do on the islands.
The most popular months to travel are December to January and July to August, as more people can travel during these typical holiday seasons, however you’ll find these wild remote islands will not even be slightly overcrowded.
January, February and March tend to be the most popular as they are the hottest months, with stunning beaches and hazy skies sprinkled with sand being blown down from the Sahara Desert. This is also the best time for scuba diving visibility and bird watching, with vibrant mating plumage on show.
The driest months are June, July, August and early September which is a good recipe for hiking and beach excursions. August, September and early October are the best time to see Humpback and Sperm whales as they migrate through the island’s warmer waters.
The months of October, November and early December experience a short rainy season, so hiking becomes more difficult on muddy terrain and the climate can become more humid. The highlight of the rainy season is the photography opportunities, with dark dramatic skies, and thunder clouds clearing to reveal bright blue skies.
The long rainy season falls from March to May, and although it’s not the best time for hiking excursions, the islands are still beautiful in lush green foliage. It’s important to note that the rain does not fall evenly over the islands. They may be small, but they are extremely varied topographically, so the mountainous slopes of the south-west catch most of the rainfall on both islands, so you’ll likely experience less showers in the northern parts of the island.
For travellers who are keen to see turtles nesting, travel from mid-November to early February to see the eggs hatch and spot the hatchlings return to sea 45 days after the initial nesting.
January is a hot dry month in Sao Tome & Principe, with beautiful sunny days averaging 29°C and perfect beach weather. It’s one of the most popular months for tourists, but the country never gets too crowded, and it’s a great time to go hiking, scuba diving and snorkelling. Nature lovers can see turtles nesting and hatching on the beach, while bird watching is fantastic for those wanting to see the colourful breeding plumage. It can get quite hazy on the coastline between January and March, as the sands from the Saharan Desert are blown west over the islands, in an effect known as bruma seca.
The hot dry weather continues into February, and although the heat can get quite intense, with temperatures averaging 29°C, the beach offers a cool reprieve. Go snorkelling and scuba diving in the sparkling clear waters, or head to the shores to catch the end of the turtle nesting and hatching season. It’s also a great time to go hiking through the national parks, with little rain and clear trails, and as it’s mating season, you’ll see a variety of bird species illuminated in their bright breeding plumage.
March heralds the beginning of the long wet season, with daily showers and heightened humidity. Although you’ll experience rain almost every day, the showers don’t last long and they leave behind clear blue skies. It’s a beautiful time for photography and a great time for orchid spotting. As the rain brings out the mosquitoes, make sure you come prepared with repellent and long, loose clothing.
The long wet season continues into April with intense humidity and daily rainfall. It’s actually a great month to visit, as it’s not as hot as February and March, and the short showers clear to reveal stunning blue skies, making it a perfect time for photography. Botanists will love searching for blooming orchards, although make sure you do any hiking with a guide, as it can become quite challenging on the muddy trails.
The long wet season is coming to an end in May, and although you’ll still get daily showers and high humidity, you’ll likely have most of the islands to yourself. Hiking can be difficult on the slippery muddy trails, so be sure to take a guide with you. A variety of orchid species are still in bloom, and the lush vegetation and thunder clouds clearing to blue skies, makes this a beautiful time for photography.
June brings the start of the long dry season, which lasts until the beginning of September. This is one of the best times of year to visit Sao Tome & Principe, with clear hiking trails and superb conditions for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving in the dazzling turquoise seas. It’s also the hottest time of year, so you can spend plenty of time cooling off at the beach.
With the long dry season continuing into July, you’ll experience endless clear sunny days. The temperatures are hot, but the cloudy skies offer some respite, and snorkelling and scuba diving conditions are excellent. Hiking conditions are also superb, and you can spend your days exploring the national parks. If you’re visiting in late July, you’ll catch the start of the humpback whale mating season, which lasts until October. Sao Tome and Principe’s Independence Day is 12 July, with a fun carnival atmosphere and plenty of celebrations to enjoy.
August is one of the best months to visit Sao Tome & Principe, with dry hot weather and ideal conditions for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving and hiking through the rainforest around the islands. There’s no rain, and the heat is alleviated by cloudy skies. Head to the northeast shores to spot humpback whales, killer whales and dolphins beginning their migration to warmer waters, or head to the cities to celebrate a month of Saints’ feast days. The streets come alive with cultural festivities, music, food stalls and entertainment.
The long dry season begins to wind down in September, but it’s still a great time for hiking through the national parks, exploring the beaches and swimming in the seas. Temperatures are still hot, but the cloudy skies shield the heat, and it’s also a great time to see humpback whales, killer whales and dolphins migrating along the north-eastern shores. The whales visit the waters of Sao Tome & Principe between late July and October, and they go in search of warmer waters for breeding and giving birth to their young.
October can be unpredictable, with the short wet season arriving. It doesn’t rain all day, so it’s still a great time for most activities like swimming, beach walks and hiking, although the trails become more muddy and slippery. The best time for bird watching is from October to March, and you can also spot whales and dolphins migrating and breeding along the north-eastern coastline. The rain attracts mosquitoes so come prepared with repellent and long loose clothing.
With the short wet season in full swing, November is typically the month that receives the highest rainfall. Hiking is more difficult with muddy trails, skies are grey and underwater visibility is not at its best for snorkelling and scuba diving. However for nature lovers, November is a great time to visit. Bird nesting season begins this month and turtle nesting season begins in mid-November.
With the end of the short wet season and the arrival of the short dry season, December is one of the most popular months to visit. You might still get a bit of rain, but it won’t disrupt your island activities and you can still go hiking, swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. It’s a great time for bird watching, as you’ll see the bright breeding plumage of an array of endemic bird species, and you can also watch turtles nesting on the beach, with their eggs hatching 45 days later.