São Tomé and Príncipe is a two-island nation on Africa’s west coast. It’s the second smallest country on the continent after Seychelles and the smallest and least populous Portuguese-speaking country in the world.

Even with its size, São Tomé and Príncipe is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Located off the coast of Gabon along the Gulf of Guinea, these hidden islands are regarded as “Africa’s Galapagos” because of the beautiful and unspoiled beaches, rainforests, biodiversity and landscape. The equator runs directly through the islands.

São Tomé and Príncipe is a hidden gem destination that’s perfect for travelers looking for places not inundated with tourists.

How to Get to São Tomé and Príncipe?

Traveling by air is the only way to arrive on the islands. The main airport is São Tomé International Airport. Most flights to the island nation come from Europe on TAP Portugal or STP Airways through Lisbon. Other popular airlines flying to São Tomé & Príncipe include Afrijet Business Service, ASKY Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and TAAG Angola Airlines.

Getting to Príncipe is a little more difficult because the primary flight is with STP Airways. On average, there are two daily flights to Príncipe, which takes roughly 40 minutes.

Lodging on São Tomé Island

Omali Lodge

Omali Lodge is a stylish boutique hotel near the National Museum, beaches, and local cacao and coffee farms.

The resort’s name, Omali, means “ocean and source of life,” which symbolizes what you will experience at the resort. Beautiful lush gardens and a relaxing pool will surround you. The restaurant at the resort is known for its delicious seafood and modern fusion dishes.

Club Santana

Club Santana is a fantastic beach resort for travelers who want it all. There’s a sense of exclusivity, but guests also are close to the main attractions. The restaurant on the property is Bar Detox and Beach Club, where you can indulge in fresh juices, produce, and fish from local fishermen caught daily.

Bom Bom Hotel and Resort

Bom Bom is a beautiful resort hotel that sits minutes away from the Gulf of Guinea. It’s a small-scale resort that creates an intimate atmosphere for solo travelers who want to relax and reconnect and honeymooners searching for a romantic getaway.

Sundy Praia Príncipe Island

For a luxury stay in Príncipe, Sundy Praia is where you want to book. The 15 tented villas at the resort allow you to connect with nature as exclusive sandy beaches and tropical forests will surround you. The property features an infinity pool, private terraces and private plunge pools.

What to do in São Tomé and Príncipe

Banana Beach

You can’t go wrong with any beaches in São Tomé and Príncipe. Out of the nearly dozen beaches to attend, Banana Beach is breathtaking. It’s a serene atmosphere that’s good for watersports and relaxing.

The beach is excellent for snorkeling, diving or simply being amid the clear blue water and palm trees.

Saint Nicholas Waterfall

Saint Nicholas Waterfall is known as “Cascata de Sao Nicolau” locally. It’s a must-see waterfall, but having a 4×4 vehicle to get there is important as the roads to the waterfall are rough and bumpy.

Obô National Park

Obô is the only national park country on both São Tomé and Príncipe islands. The park covers almost 30 percent of the islands’ area and consists of rainforests, mangroves, swamps and savannah grasslands.

In 1988, scientists classified the forests of Sao Tomé and Principe as the second most important of the 75 forests of Africa. You don’t have to love bird-watching to appreciate the more than 230 birds in the park, including parrots, dwarf olive ibis, the Sao Tome Scoop owl and more. For context, islands comparable to São Tomé and Príncipe have no more than two endemic bird species. São Tomé and Príncipe has more than 100. Birdlife International placed São Tomé and Príncipe in the top 25 percent of Endemic Bird areas for its species variety.

Cacoa Tour

Cocoa is the main export in São Tomé and Príncipe, but its coffee is also well known. You can get a behind-the-scenes tour with Angola Travel and Tours.

The tour includes visiting the coffee farm Roca Agostinho Neto, Roca Monte Forte, the Blue Lagoon, a Cacao Plantation, and Discoveries Landmark.