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Sabbatical & Experiential Travel to São Tomé & Príncipe – In a Nutshell

These islands are home to soul-stirring basalt peaks, some of the most biodiverse rainforests on the planet, pristine golden beaches, and spirited communities who are deeply connected with the natural environment. São Tomé and Príncipe is Africa’s second smallest country, yet perhaps its most spectacular. Formerly known as ‘the chocolate islands’ due to their history as one of the world’s largest producer of Cocoa, the islands are rich in endemic animals and plants, particularly on UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Príncipe Island. Turtles hatch along the pristine shores and humpback whales frequent its warm waters. This ecological paradise boasts the unofficial title of ‘Africa’s Galapagos’. This is the ideal place to reconnect with the abundance of nature.

São Tomé & Príncipe Wildlife

Turtles nest along the golden shores between November and January. You can spot the hatchlings emerging from their eggs and shuffling across the pristine sand towards the sea between February and April. Dolphins and whales migrate to São Tomé & Príncipe to spend July to August in its warm waters. Colourful birds make ostentatious displays of their fabulous plumage during the breeding season, January to March.

How to Get to São Tomé & Príncipe

Connect via Lisbon (Portugal) to fly to São Tomé island. From the USA, you can also connect via Luanda (Angola), Accra (Ghana); or Libreville (Gabon). Flights are scheduled almost daily between São Tomé island and Principe island.

When & Weather – São Tomé & Príncipe

With the temperature between 27 and 29 °C all year round, there is no bad time to visit São Tomé & Príncipe. You are more likely to catch a shower in the rainy months of February to May, and October to November.

Who will São Tomé & Príncipe Appeal To?

Its tropical climate, wildlife and stunning natural landscapes are best suited to:

  • Honeymooners
  • Active travellers
  • Solo travellers
  • Families
  • Wildlife enthusiasts
  • Photographers

São Tomé & Príncipe Accommodation

Stay on a former, beautifully restored Cacao plantation; cast yourself away in a sunlit, beachside bungalow or stay in a tented eco-villa between the sea and the rainforest on a hidden stretch of coastline. Rest assured that your lodging has respect for the local environment at its heart, with several conservation projects and a commitment to local sustainability.

Off The Beaten Path

São Tomé & Príncipe is one of Africa’s best kept secrets. While the entire destination is off the tourist trail, the discerning yet adventurous traveller is well catered for here.

São Tomé & Príncipe Experiences you shouldn’t miss:

  • Discover the heart of picturesque Principe as you wander through the meandering, cobbled streets of Santo Antonio. Sample local delicacies in family-run restaurants
  • See the iconic Pico de São Tomé mountain rise high above the lush vegetation in the Parque Natural Obo de São Tomé
  • Take a boat trip to the Bay of Needles for a different perspective on the UNESCO Biosphere reserve
  • Laze away your day on the warm sands of palm-fringed shores surrounded by glistening turquoise waters on Banana Beach or Praia Boi Beach
  • Stroll along the promenade of São Tomé, absorbing the serene views of the glistening ocean, lush rainforests and sandy beaches
  • Visit the island’s highest waterfall, Oque Pipi, hidden among the verdant rainforests of the Parque Natural do Principe. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear natural pool after a hike through the park
  • Join a conservation-focused trip with the NGO Fundacao Principe to spot the Hawksbill and Leatherback turtle eggs hatching between February and April
  • Take a ‘tree-to-table’ cacao route experience to relive the island’s chocolate story.
  • Experience the buzz of carnival on Independence Day, 12th July
  • The ‘Auto de Floripes’ festival on 10th August re-enacts in dramatic street theatre, with vibrant colours and costumes, the historic encounter between Christians and Moors
  • Embrace the natural warmth and genuine interest of the locals towards visitors to their country. A day left to spontaneity could see you meeting a fisherman and enjoying his catch for dinner, or joining in with school children tracking whale sightings for their summer project

Giving back

Fundacao Principe is a Non-Governmental Organisation which runs community, marine and terrestrial projects, protecting the rainforest and endemic species of wildlife, and creating incomes for local people in harmony with the environment. See more of their work and donate here. This NGO operates turtle hatching expeditions, with the proceeds going to the protection of these majestic creatures. Participating in these trips on your holiday will contribute to their critical work.

Start Planning

Our experienced team will guide you through a number of ideas based on how you would like to experience São Tomé & Príncipe.

No matter how long you have to travel, we will guide you through the planning process to ensure a trip is carefully pieced together to suit your interests, pace of travel and budget.

Browse our gallery for inspiration and contact us to find out more.

São Tomé & Príncipe Itinerary


Photos courtesy of HBD Príncipe