Photo Credit: Aldo Pavan
São Tomé And Principe: 7 Beaches To Visit When In The 'African Eden'
Known as the African Eden due to its beautiful and unexplored nature, São Tomé and Principe is an archipelago state, which holds two main islands (São Tomé and Príncipe). July 12 is the day this tiny paradise country celebrates its independence from Portugal, achieved just 46 years ago.
Surely, São Tomé and Principe has a lot to offer for those who love to explore deserted beaches, stunning nature landscapes and— at the same time— being away from highly visited international tourist spots.
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited until 1470, when Portuguese navigators reached the Gulf of Guinea area. In the late 15th century, the Portuguese brought enslaved Africans from other regions to the islands to grow sugar.
According to some historians, São Tomé was for a brief time the world’s largest producer of sugar in the early 16th century, but the rise of Brazil‘s sugar production in the global scenario and the poor quality of São Tomé’s dried sugar virtually destroyed this industry. After that, the islands became a trading post, including the transportation of enslaved Africans to Brazil.
In 1975, after 575 years under Portuguese rule, the country gained freedom.
São Tomé and Principe has a privileged location that makes nature even more essential: situated in an equatorial region of dormant volcanoes under the sea, the archipelago has a very rich marine life, which is perfect for diving. It is also known as the land of sustainability: agriculture is strictly biological and chemical products are prohibited on the islands— not to mention the biodiversity that is also highlighted with forests where various species of endemic plants, birds, reptiles and amphibians live wild.
Over the past few years, São Tomé and Principe’s government decided to invest in tourism to attract visitors from all over the world in order to boost the country’s economy. In fact, for those who like to spend some days in a stress-free spot with astonishing landscapes and beaches along with being connected to Motherland Africa, São Tomé is the place to be.
Some resorts in the destination also provide specific activities and experiences, such as excursions in a 4×4 vehicle through the islands and beaches, boat trips, hiking trails through the vegetation, picnics on deserted islands or even tours.
To celebrate the independence of this small, but beautiful country, Travel Noire has compiled a list of places you should go if you decide to visit someday.
1. Banana Beach- Principe Island
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Located on Principe island, which was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and called the “Galápagos of Africa,” Banana Beach is a must-see with its palm trees and golden sands.
It is called Banana beach because when it is seen from above, it resembles the shape of a banana.
2. Boi Beach- Principe Island
Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in West Africa, the famous Boi beach is located next to the islet of Mosteiros. This must-go spot is perfect for those who like snorkeling. There is only one access point by car, but going there by boat is highly recommended if you want to enjoy the views.
3. Tamarindos Beach- São Tomé Island
Located on São Tomé island, Praia dos Tamarindos (Tamarindos Beach) is one of the island’s best beaches, with beautiful white sand and an emerald sea. Tamarindos beach is perfect for swimming.
4. Bateria Beach- Ilhéu das Rolas island
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Located on the tiny island of Ilhéu das Rolas, this beach is also worth a visit. It is situated between long walls of rock, and it is normally a top choice for couple’s.
5. Pico Cão Grande (Great Dog Peak)
One of the most famous natural places in São Tomé is the Pico Cão Grande (Great Dog Peak). It is a 663 meters needle-shaped solid column of magma called phonolite. It is a part of the volcanic mountain range that covers both the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe.
The magma came out of an extinct volcano whose outer shell eroded away. Located on the coast of the southern part of São Tomé, Pico Cao Grande is the perfect place for those who love exoticism and adventure.
6. Monte Café
Opened in 1852, Monte Café is now a museum. It once belonged to the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi and, after his fall, in 2011, it began to be administered by the local government.
Roça Monte Café is one of the oldest plantations in São Tomé, located right in the center of the Island. This specific location once boasted a favorable terrain for cultivating Arabica coffee. Because of this, it also once held the title as one of the largest coffee producers in the nation.
7. São Nicolau Waterfalls
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São Nicolau Waterfalls are located in the middle of the forest off a dusty road, surrounded by picturesque forests packed with gorgeous fauna. After passing through small villages and narrow paths, you’ll reach the falls.
Perfect place for relaxing, São Nicolau Waterfalls offers the sound and splendor of the water falling, allied with the tweeting of birds and all the surrounding harmony, which will help you fully recharge.