São Tomé and Príncipe Travel Guide

Sitting in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Central Africa, the two tiny democratic islands of São Tomé & Príncipe straddle the equator, providing a year-round hot and steamy climate.

The two islands are about 140 kilometers apart, sitting some 250 kilometers off the coast of Gabon. Surrounded by crystal-clear water, these old volcanic islands offer nothing more then palm-lined beaches, rarely explored jungles and a slow pace of life. But that seems to suit the few tourists who venture here.

Diving and snorkeling, jungle trekking and exploring sleepy little villages sums up the excitement of these islands. Mostly people just come here to get away from it all and relax. However, not all is paradise in these Portuguese / Creole flavored islands as abject poverty abounds.

Once a hub for plantation slave labor, the development of the former Portuguese coffee and cocoa colony has been massively hindered by foreign debt. However, the islands have great potential for a thriving tourist industry, offering a safe environment for travelers, but unless you are staying at one of the capital’s hotels or on the elite islands of Ilheu das Rolas or Ilha Bom Bom, you can expect your accommodation to be very basic and your only protein source to be from large land snails served with cooked, mashed bananas (a local treat?).