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The twin-island country of Sao Tome and Principe, in West Africa is a renowned eco-tourism destination. Though it is the second smallest country in the continent, it packs impressive natural beauty and rich history that captivates its visitors. The volcanic islands are home to lush rainforests, scenic beaches and thriving coral systems. As you explore the country, you can admire the few remaining structures that offer a glimpse into its Portuguese past.
Sao Tome, the bigger island of the two, houses the capital city, Sao Tome. This was one of the oldest cities in Africa to come under European rule and you can notice a good amount of Portuguese architecture. However, due to lack of proper care and restoration, most of those buildings are crumbling. The 16th-century Cathedral and Fort Sao Sebastiao, which now houses the Sao Tome National Museum are the major highlights of the capital.
The island was once a leading producer of cocoa and you can visit the historical coffee and cacao plantations (called Rocas) to learn about its cocoa industry. Roca Agua Ize is famous for being one of Sao Tome and Principe’s first cocoa industries, and it still farms beans.
Sao Tome island also boasts of a lush natural terrain and the Cao Grande is its most iconic sight. The 663m tall Cao Grande dominates the island’s landscape and climbing this volcanic peak is a challenging task.
The Principe island also bears a similar geography of dense vegetation as its big brother and its beaches are particularly notable. Praia Banana, a tropical golden-sand beach with a banana shape is one of the best beaches in the country. Praia Boi and Praia Macaco are other great beaches. Baia das Agulhas is popular for its stunning mountainous landscape, dominated by phonolite towers set amidst lush greenery. You will get the best views of this landscape from the waters of the Bay of Spires.
Apart from the two major islands, you can also take a ferry ride to its neighbouring islets like Rolas island and Bom Bom island. Both the off-beat islands house a lighthouse and resort and boast of pristine beaches and dense forests.
Even though Sao Tome and Principe is an island nation, it lacks the typical touristy vibe which makes it a perfect hideaway destination for your next holiday. The untamed lush landscapes and serene beaches will be ideal for those seeking a refreshing natural retreat.
Sao Tome and Principe’s untamed landscapes and serene beaches are ideal for those seeking a refreshing natural retreat.