Sao Tome and Principe is a Portuguese speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, about 250kms from Gabon on the west coast of Africa. The nation comprises two islands, Sao Tome Island and Principe Island, which are 140kms apart. Sao Tome is the bigger and also more mountainous of the two.
The Equator is just below the southern tip of Sao Tome, passing through an islet called Ilheu das Rolas. A monument on the islet marks the equator. The islet has beautiful secluded beaches and friendly people. Accommodation is available on the islet, including the Pestana Equador Island Resort.
Sao Tome City, the capital of Sao Tome and Principe, is on Ana Chaves Bay in the northeast part of Sao Tome Island. Sao Tome City is home to most of the tiny democratic nation’s population. Attractions in the city are the 16th century Santa Se Cathedral, Fort Sao Sebastiao now Sao Tome National Museum and Sao Tome Palace. Close to the city is Boca de Inferno, Hell’s Mouth, a natural blowhole.
Principe, the smaller island, only has 5,000 people living on it. The island’s capital is Santo Antonio, which features churches and colonial architecture. The 1,000m tall Pico de Príncipe is the highest mountain on Principe. It is heavily forested and forms part of the Obo National Park.
Both islands have spectacular coastlines with palm-fringed beaches and islets. An ideal way of seeing the coastline, and possibly the dolphins and whales that frequent the area, is to take a cruise on a sailing boat. Sao Tome City has souvenir shops, myriad beer bars and cafés.
The main entry point for Sao Tome and Principe is Sao Tome International Airport, which has services from Libreville and Lisbon. Principe has a small airport. The nation has a good range of accommodation ranging from bed and breakfasts to luxury resorts.