You may not be familiar with Sao Tome and Principe, Africa’s island nation located in the Gulf of Guinea, roughly 160 miles off the coast of Gabon. The islands have frequently been called “heaven on earth” for their enviable beauty, remoteness, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife.

Sao Tome and Principe is one of the world’s least-visited countries, with only a little over 30,000 tourists in 2018, which is up greatly from previous years. Hugo Menezes, director general of tourism for Sao Tome and Principe, tells CNN Travel that just 7,900 people visited in 2010.

Ribeira, Neves, Sao Tomé island, Sao Tomé and Principe | Aldo Pavan | Getty Images

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The country’s aim is to increase visitor numbers by 10% each year, he adds, and ensure tourism becomes a prominent economic pillar. According to, Menezes believes tourism can help bring investment and a range of benefits that will aid its development, hence the push to attract new visitors.

Sao Tomé and Principe | Sascha Grabow | Getty Images

Dilson Carvalho of the Sao Tome and Principe tourist board told CNN Travel that by boosting tourism, Sao Tome and Principe also hopes to raise awareness of the need to protect the country’s unique but delicate ecosystem while also providing economic opportunity for its citizens.

This “heaven on earth” destination should be an easy sell to travelers. With impressive hiking, diving, snorkeling, and trekking, this is the adventure seeker’s paradise.  Not to mention the abundance of pristine beaches and crystal, clear water views that are begging to be explored.

Praia Piscina, Sao Tomé and Principe |
Aldo Pavan | Getty Images

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Other attractions include a visit to Roca Sao Joao dos Angolares, an old plantation in the southwest of Sao Tome island that has been transformed into a restaurant, hotel, and art space by TV chef Joao Carlos Silva. Here, visitors can experience lavish Sao Tomean cuisine full of extravagant tropical flavors known to the island.

The best way to reach the islands is to fly into Accra before taking a short flight into São Tomé International Airport.