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.
Located a short 35-minute flight to the north of Sao Tome, Principe is the smaller island, yet its pristine landscapes are bursting with wildlife and natural wonders.
There are just 7,000 locals compared with 160,000 in Sao Tome, and the entire island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2012. Much of the island’s forest remains intact and untouched, particularly in the beautiful southern region.
The most iconic view on Principe is its highest point – the one-kilometre towering peak of Pico de Principe, surrounded by dense rainforest. The island is a photographer’s dream all year round, and although the dry season is best for rainforest and underwater activities, the rainy season provides dramatic skies with dark thunder clouds, which clear to reveal bright blue skies.
For birders, excitement comes in the form of the Principe kingfisher, as well as the Black-capped speirops, Dorhn's thrush-babbler, Principe weaver and Principe white-eye. Even just relaxing at the lodge, you are likely to see an African grey parrot up close and personal. Meanwhile, the presence of endemic frogs continues to perplex biologists, as the islands were never connected to the African mainland.
The surrounding satellite isles of Bom Bom, Caroco, Tinhosa Grande and Tinhosa Pequena, are perfect for exploring on day trips from the main island. The most popular place to stay is undoubtedly Bom Bom Island Resort, but there are a few other options to consider, particularly including the newly opened Praia Sundy ,which is a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
A South-African entrepreneur who was looking to purchase a private island, came across Principe. His philanthropic instincts lead to his heavy investment in Principe’s conservation and regeneration, with Bom Bom and Sundy Praia being his most notable projects.
These properties have been sensitively designed in an environmentally conscious manner, and in such a way as to attract people who enjoy exploring nature and the great outdoors, as much as relaxing on tropical beaches.
Principe is warm all year, from 28-30°C, but they have two rainy seasons, one short from mid-October to mid-December and one long from March to May. However, the key thing to consider is that even in “rainy season”, the amount of rainfall within Principe can vary enormously. Rainfall is concentrated on the South Western mountainous areas so is far less likely to affect your days when staying in the North of the islands. The busiest times are December to January and July to August so planning well in advance is important, especially in terms of international flights.
A trip to Sao Tome & Principe is only partially complete unless you fly to Principe island too. Most travellers will choose to spend most of their time on Principe because the atmosphere is completely different, and it’s more protected and natural. The beauty is profound, and the pace of life is even more relaxed and happy. Humpback whales can be seen from the shores of North West Principe, so if you plan to travel between August and October keep your eyes peeled. Choose to spend some time inland at a plantation house or spend the entire time on Principe based at the beach in one of the two beautiful lodges.
The 35-minute flight to reach Principe from Sao Tome makes it even more special and exhilarating. After landing, you’ll transfer to your luxury lodge along red muddy roads which are blissfully empty, and within 20 minutes you’ll be sipping on your welcome drink. For a more quirky and unique perspective, choose to stay in a Roca, a restored plantation house. If the sound of the ocean is what attracts you to these paradise isles, choose from Bom Bom or Praia Sundy for your stay on Principe. Bom Bom is a little livelier and famous for its PADI certified dive centre, whilst Praia Sundy is a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, renowned for its luxurious tented villa interiors, impressive dining and secluded romantism.