Tailored from £4,600 per person excl. flights
11 days Sao Tome, Principe
11 days Sao Tome, Principe
Head even further off-grid in one of the most under-the-radar destinations in the world on our Sao Tome & Principe Off the Beaten Track holiday. Few tourists reach these islands, however those who do always fall in love with the laid-back charm and phenomenal landscapes. The islands attract people who enjoy exploring nature and the great outdoors, as much as relaxing on tropical beaches frequented by seahorses, turtles and whales.
This itinerary is perfect for adventurous travellers who want to see more than the top highlights and meet the local characters behind the country. You’ll stay on three islands during your visit to this archipelago, including Sao Tome, Isla das Rolas and Principe, plus a visit to little Bom Bom islet.
You’ll embark on a self-driving tour for two days on Sao Tome Island, exploring with the aid of your guidebook and friendly locals. Next, you’ll travel by boat to the Equator Line to stay for three nights at Pestana Equador, before making a short flight to Principe island to the Northeast of Sao Tome. Here you'll stay at the gorgeous Roca Belo Monte before ending your trip at Bom Bom islet, a firm favourite and a wonderful way to end your intrepid adventure.
After landing in the small Sao Tome International airport in the early evening (and in the same time zone as the UK), you’ll collect your Suzuki Jimny hire car and drive to Club Santana by coastal road to the south. You will stay at Club Santana for two nights, in a Sea View Bungalow, with breakfast included.
After breakfast at Club Santana, you will have the first day to get your bearings on Sao Tome island, which is 50 km in length and approximately 30 km wide. We suggest heading inland to the mountains of Sao Tome for a stunning new perspective. As you hit an altitude of 800m above sea level, you’ll discover panoramic views of the city before reaching the São Nicolau waterfall.
If you are interested in coffee production, visit the Monte Café plantation, one of the most prosperous and largest plantations on Sao Tome. Another great option is to pick up a guide and walk to Amélia Lagoon to admire the unique flora and fauna. Despite the name, it’s not a lagoon, but a crater filled with water, covered with a thick layer of earth that you can walk on. The one hour or so walk to reach the lagoon is just as much part of the experience as reaching the destination.
This afternoon you can head to Blue Lagoon or Lagoa Azul, to see a truly phenomenal and contrasting lagoon environment. This secluded bay is perfect for swimming and snorkelling from the sandy shores, and its home to a famous population of seahorses and electric eels. Return to Club Santana to swim off the beaches and enjoy dinner by the sea. If you’d like to go scuba diving, we can arrange for excursions on Sao Tome as well as Principe. The Atlantic Dive Centre at Club Santana is PADI certified.
After breakfast at Club Santana you will make the wonderful South drive to the Equator line, on your way to Ponta Baleia. You’ll pass Água Izé plantation, Boca do Inferno, Ribeira Afonso town, São João plantation, Angolares town, Pesqueira beach waterfall, Malanza river and arrive at Ponta Baleia, where the boat to Isla das Rolas departs from. The boat usually leaves at 10.30am and returns at 4.30pm but private transfers can be arranged.
Enjoy the ride across to the islet and be greeted by Pestana staff who will transfer you the rest of the way to check in at Pestana Equador for three nights, in a Superior room on a full board basis, with breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
There are plenty of natural wonders to explore on Isla das Rolas. Go trekking through the islet to discover near untouched forest and head to the Devil’s Eye to watch the sea break through the rocks, creating explosions in the caves. There are three main trails to discover the islet by foot. The most impressive of these is the Red Route. This takes you up to the Equator Mark, where you can stand in both hemispheres at the same time, and finishes with a swim on Café Beach.
The Green Route shows you Ponta Cabra, Joana Beach and the caves on the other end of the island, while the Blue Route shows the Lighthouse in the centre of the Isla das Rolas. Jacques Cousteau played an important role here, describing the area as the most interesting place in the world to study and observe marine life.
You can also go kayaking or sport fishing, and if you are travelling during the season from mid-November to February, you may be lucky enough to spot nesting sea turtles. Visit the local village to discover handmade arts and crafts.
Enjoy breakfast at Pestana Equador before taking the scheduled boat back to the mainland. You’ll be transferred by road to Omali Lodge to stay for one night in a Junior Suite, with breakfast and dinner included. Ideally located within a short drive to the airport for your flight to Principe the following morning, this breaks up your journey, so each day is relaxing and unhurried.
Today you will be transferred to Sao Tome airport to check in for your STP Airways flight to Principe Island. It’s a 35-minute flight and if you have the option, try to sit on the right-hand side of the plane to get the best views flying in. 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.
On arrival in Principe, you’ll be warmly welcomed by local staff who will drive you to Roca Belo Monte, where you’ll stay for two nights in a standard room on a full board basis. You can head out on an afternoon excursion to Santo Antonio, the world’s smallest capital city, or simply enjoy your time at the plantation house.
On your second day on Principe, you’ll have the opportunity to add on a full day trip exploring the South of Principe (additional cost), or another popular option is to hire quad bikes from Roca Belo Monte and head to the O Quê Pipi Waterfall.
After breakfast at Roca Belo Monte you will be transferred by road to Bom Bom Island Resort in Northwest Principe, where you’ll stay for two nights in a Beachfront Room on a full board basis with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kick off your shoes on arrival and walk barefoot along the beaches.
Your last full day in Principe sees you setting off for a three-hour boat trip along the coast. See the secluded bays and impressive geologic features from the water and keep your eyes peeled for pods of dolphins, surrounded constantly by flying fish. If you’re travelling from August to October, you may even get to see whales. Spend the day snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in this beautiful environment.
Today you will say goodbye to the team at Bom Bom and transfer to Principe airport for the flight back to Sao Tome. After arriving on the main island mid-morning, you’ll meet your representative driver for your 15-minute transfer to Omali Lodge.
You’ll have a day-use room at Omali Lodge before your flight home in the evening. Choose to visit town to buy some last-minute souvenirs or relish a final afternoon by the tropical swimming pool and gardens. Although your incredible Sao Tome & Principe holiday has come to an end, we’re sure you’ll be leaving with incredible memories and plenty of photos to last a lifetime.
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Wayfairer is committed to responsible values, which are echoed in all elements of our tours and holidays. We work with accommodation providers and local suppliers who share this dedication to responsible travel by focusing on environmental, conservation and community initiatives.
This Sao Tome & Principe Off the Beaten Track itinerary features Bom Bom and Omali Lodge. These properties have been sensitively designed and developed in an environmentally conscious manner and in way that celebrates nature and the great outdoors.
The Fundação Príncipe Trust (FPT) which employs approximately 50 people, of which over 90% are local, are to thank for the incredible sustainable development projects on Principe island, such as seabird colony protection, marine coral preservation and trail building. You can get involved with their projects, with coastal trips and turtle nesting excursions.
We encourage you to get to know the culture of Sao Tome & Principe by making trips to local villages, buying authentic souvenirs and sharing traditional meals with locals to provide income for those communities. We believe all of this reinforces the importance of responsible tourism and means that you will have a more authentic and meaningful travel experience.