São Tomé and Príncipe

From Eco Friendly Travels

Home / Africa / Central Africa / São Tomé and Príncipe

Eco-friendly travel guide to São Tomé and Príncipe advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to travel in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in São Tomé and Príncipe, Africa.

  • Air quality: 3 / 5
  • Bus connections: 3 / 5
  • Train connections: 0 / 5
  • Hitchhiking: 2 / 5
  • National parks: 4 / 5
  • Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
  • Locals' English level: 2.5 / 5
  • Safety: 1.5 / 5
  • Accommodation: US$20 - $600
  • Budget per day: US$30 - $750

Responsible Travel

São Tomé and Príncipe is a nation of the coast of Central Africa, situated on the Equator in the Gulf of Guinea. It comprises of two principle islands—São Tomé and Príncipe—and a few rough islets, including Rôlas, south of São Tomé island, and Caroço, Pedras, and Tinhosas, south of Príncipe. The island country is to the west of Gabon. Found and asserted by Portugal in the late fifteenth century, the islands' sugar-based economy offered an approach to cocoa and coffee in the nineteenth century. Keeping all of this in mind and the population of over 200,000 people, one can be assured of the islands facing some ecological and environmental issues. Thus, as tourists, it is your responsibility to keep it as clean and tidy as possible. Given in this section of the article are tips to ensure that you tour the scenic African islands as responsible tourists.

Notwithstanding, endeavour and use public transportation whatever amount as could be considered typical. While there are anything but an exorbitant number of options and the comfort of a private vehicle or a taxi is evidently more transcendent, it is recommended that you use the streetcars and the buses, these are profitable, cost-proficient and they emphatically help you with decreasing your carbon impression.

A significant part of proficient journeying lived for your destination so that you utilise the local assets in the best possible way and one such course for you to do that as an explorer is to remain in an eco-friendly or a green hotel. This will help you with ensuring that you decrease your impact on the environment and picking a fair green hotel will give you all of the amenities and facilities in an impressively more sustainable manner.

The local markets are known to be an infrequently explored hidden gold mine, here you will find everything from artefacts to locally made product that reflects the fine craftsmanship. Additionally, this will help the local economy in a huge way as you will put money directly into the pockets of the producers and possibly keep away from dealers in the middle. This will furthermore enable you to help these little ventures that don't work out of voracity and utilise the island's assets warily.

Similarly, endeavour to explore local food at diners to value astounding African cooking. Keep an essential distance from colossal inexpensive food chains and overall brands regardless. The more unobtrusive bistros and even food carts will serve you without a doubt the most substantial dishes, even more thusly, if you plan to set up your own African gala guarantee you get the trimmings from local food markets and not supermarkets. The freshest produce including vegetables, fish, and a wide scope of meats will be found at these markets, they will be esteemed fittingly likewise and routinely serve to be the qualification between a good home-arranged supper and an exceptional meal.

Air Quality and Pollution

The environment is fundamentally oceanic and tropical, in any case, as a result of the harsh geography, there is a wide scope of microclimates. The overarching clammy southwesterly breezes are captured by the mountains, so yearly precipitation surpasses 275 inches in the southwestern part of São Tomé island, while the far upper east gets under 30 inches. The dry season, called gravana, keeps going from June to September in the upper east yet is barely perceptible in the wetter areas. In the waterfront zones, the mean yearly temperature is high, in the low 80 degrees Fahrenheit; the normal relative moistness is likewise high, around 80%. Normal temperatures decrease strongly with the rise and night temperatures fall under 50 degrees Fahrenheit at around 2,300 feet. Over 3,300 feet fine hazy downpour falls constantly and the nights are cold, in spite of the fact that ice and snow are obscure. Hence, as a tourist, you are recommended to pack your bags according to the season in which you are visiting.

As per the World Health Organization's rules, the air quality in São Tomé and Príncipe is considered slightly risky - the latest information demonstrates the country's yearly mean convergence of PM2.5 higher than recommended limits. Much of this can be attributed to the rampant use of fossil fuels by the locals and inefficient machinery and appliances that result in higher levels of energy consumption. Subsequently, as a vacationer, one surely does have to consider carrying minor forms of protective gears but otherwise, the general public can roam freely and breathe in the fresh air in certain areas on the islands. Just those with previously diagnosed ailments with respect to breathing should be careful and consume prescribed medications.

Respect the Culture

São Toméans are friendly, nice individuals. It is improbable anyone will experience issues on the off chance that they notice ordinary guidelines of kindness and don't do things they would not do at home. Be readied, nonetheless, that they are extremely frank while expressing their views and extremely direct. Despite the fact that hawkers do exist, they are more uncommon than in numerous other African nations and are once in a while an annoyance. This little nation has a homogeneous creole culture, significantly set apart by hundreds of years of mixing components of the prevailing Roman Catholic Portuguese culture with different African impacts. The connection framework is reciprocal, despite the fact that men generally have been polygynous. With the virtual shortfall of monogamous marriage, the intimate framework is portrayed by a high frequency of different and sequential standard associations and visiting relationships; accordingly, around 33% of families are managed by females who are sole decision makers. Numerous African components have been received in the cooking, customs, and convictions of a significant part of the populace, and a great many people of lower socioeconomic status talk just creole in every day life.

As a tourist, to be likeable here in São Tomé and Príncipe, make sure that you do not stereotype the locals and Africans. Though they are proud to be Africans, they value their status as a sovereign nation and do not wish to be generalised. Always try and smile and initiate conversations. Popular topics include music, food, pop culture and sport. When it comes to sport the locals are extremely fond of football and talking about the sport is the easiest way to make friends on the islands. Beyond this, just treat the locals with love and respect and you shall get more than double in return. The people are extremely chilled out, they are friendly and they serve to be exceptional hosts.

Top 10 Places to Visit

Despite being rather small island São Tomé and Príncipe both have plenty of interesting places to visit. As a tourist, you can visit the given below top 10 places to dive into the local magnificence:

  • Neves Ferreira: Beset by epic table-top mountains and wilderness dressed precipices, fixed in by the primitive rainforests of the Príncipe Ecological Zone and the wilds of this tropical area, the minuscule village of Neves Ferreira is maybe the most difficult to reach destination in the whole of the São Tomé archipelago. Nonetheless, the disconnection has guaranteed a captivating absence of improvement, while the beaches around the mud-splashed hovels that make up the middle are as yet trampled by the enormous carapaces of ocean turtles and tons of other uncommon and imperiled species other than. Arranging an outing here will not be simple, yet the characteristic marvels may very well be awesome!
  • Sao Joao dos Angolares: Set to the inquisitive Creole hints of the local vernacular and set simply back from the delightful bend of sand that is Praia Sao Joao dos Angolares, this 2,000-man solid town on the east coast is an incredible decision for laid-back occasions. There are gobs of guesthouses with swinging loungers and earthy little kitchens promoting São Tomé's mixture of Portuguese-mixed curries and Creole-style plates and the actual setting essentially overflows chilled vibes: the wilderness influences in the ocean breeze, the homes are painted in lovely Caribbean tones, individuals grin, and the days go gradually.
  • Neves: Neves is not normal for generally the entirety of different urban areas that spot the shoreline of pretty São Tomé a mechanical spot on a fundamental level. Industrial facilities, warehouses, distilleries and one particularly gainful power plant pepper its shoreline, which were all raised by virtue of the valuable profound water harbour that was worked back in 2012 under a partnership with the Nigerian government. There are several hotels and guesthouses here, alongside a sprinkling of local eateries. Neves is rational and generally lacking.
  • Santo Amaro: Santo Amaro is gradually becoming conjoined with the developing rural areas of the capital at São Tomé city, which sits only a tad toward the south-east. Be that as it may, until further notice, it stays independent; washed in drowsy, torpid vibes, and ticking over to a lethargic, island mood. The actual middle has quite recently a sprinkling of low-ascent homes and little squares. There's an intermittent specially appointed bistro, alongside an enchanting ochre-tinted church to see. Additionally, Santo Amaro has simple admittance to the close-by territory of Bela Vista, a part of the capital and the runways of the archipelago's just international air terminal.
  • Porto Alegre: This is practically nothing like its Brazilian namesake. Rather than 1,000,000 occupants, this one tickers up a little more than 500 altogether. Rather than unlimited barrios and sprawling current regions, this town is a broken-down aggregation of earthy hovels, unnatural longhouses and blurred fishing kayaks. All things considered, it has genuine appeal and is one of the starting focuses on the São Tomé whale watching circuit (which runs the length of the east coast). It's likewise an incredible spot to dispatch further investigations along the beautiful beaches of the south shore – Jale, paradisiacal Praia Piscina – and the dazzling spans of Rolas Island for sure.
  • Santo António: The capital of minuscule Príncipe – the more modest portion of this archipelago – is a somewhat little town on the north shore of the island, and home to the main part of its populace (and that is simply above just 1,000 people!). A lethargic spot old enough stained pioneer structures and mud-splattered pueblo-style homes, it has a specific real appeal. The twisting channels of the Palhota River slice through the heart of the town, bisecting the shoreline roads as they weave along the shore through palm forests and marsh flats. Meanwhile, the verdant volcanic slopes of the island's inland entice not too far off, and local anglers sway in their boats by the riparian piers.
  • São Tomé: A chocolate box of lovely Romanesque chapels and resplendent pilgrim structures, palm-lined streets and pretty squares, São Tomé is the solitary genuine city on these islands. The capital, and the economic centre point, the political focus and the main commercial centre, it's stacked with any semblance of the Presidential Palace and Independence Square – denoting the year that this Atlantic archipelago acquired independence from the forces of Europe. Dive into the Central Market here and weave between earthenware tiled apartments, wonderful Baroque veneers and the cannon spotted defences of Fort Sao Sebastian, all prior to hitting the entrancing shows of the National Museum. From that point forward, you'll find apathetic cafés spilling onto the cobbles and a lot of spots for walking around the shoreline of wonderful Ana Chaves Bay.
  • Trindade: It is one of the couple of potential destinations in São Tomé that is not on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. All things being equal, this humble community sits high over the capital, on the rising edges of the inland slopes. It's encircled by the incredible wraps of espresso manors and cacao developing fields (the fundamental economic drivers here) that make up the bigger Me-Zochi District. Notwithstanding, it's the frightful and decrepit character of the old frontier frontispieces that truly strike guests to the town – they stand like apparitions of a previous age up and down the pot-holed streets.
  • Monte Café: You'll need to head profoundly into the volcanic mountain runs that ascent to the skies in the heart of São Tomé island to track down the matured frontier production lines and espresso developing haciendas of Monte Cafe. As you would envision, even the drive there is one for the movement diaries: clearing vistas of the antiquated rainforest; unlimited valleys of hazy woods; an intermittent rusting villa of tin-shack homes. Once there, you'll appreciate excellent perspectives on the palm-spotted good countries of the country, alongside one acclaimed espresso museum, chronicling the development, deals and history of the island's significant industry.
  • Rolas Island: Languishing in the Atlantic like the tear of São Tomé, simply a short boat ride away from the southern tip of the island, the bit on the guide that is Rolas Island is celebrated for its sparkling white-sand beaches and paradisiacal facade. The sands are perpetually completely detached, falling down from the wilderness canvassed coast in a mixture of rock spotted inlets and extended lengths of sun-sprinkled ivory shades. There's likewise an acclaimed hotel resort here (ideal for a distant and sentimental tropical avoid the archipelago's more-trampled spots), alongside a landmark to the courses of the equator, which gets directly over the centre of Rolas.


Exploring the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe shall be an interesting experience, they have plenty of places that command your attention and a few of these are listed in the sections given below.

City Parks

São Tomé and Príncipe are islands which have over 90% of tree cover on the total surface area. When such are the statistics, one can be assured of plenty of greenery and some of this is in the form of city parks on the islands. Given below are a few parks that are truly worth visiting in São Tomé and Príncipe:

  • Lagoa Amelia
  • Pico Cão Grande
  • Pico São Tomé

National Parks

Some of the most interesting places on the island of São Tomé and Príncipe to discover the local fauna and flora, which are renowned across the globe can be found at the places listed below:

  • Príncipe Ecological Zone: This immense region of greenery possesses a monster cut out of the little island of Príncipe. It's similar as its tropical sibling toward the south, and the hinterland shows a significant number of similar uncommon virgin timberlands and fog beat coverings as the Obo National Park. In any case, this remote is substantially less explored. The incomparable Matterhorn-like mountains take off directly from the wilderness; cloud woodlands course down to the shining coves of the Atlantic; uncommon reptiles hasten through the undergrowth, and whales flounder in the waters out adrift. For gutsy sorts, there's actually nothing very like it!
  • Obo National Park: Otherworldly and amazing, the Obo National Park is one that infrequently neglects to blow the mind. Covering a huge region of in excess of 230 square kilometres on the southern side of São Tomé, the incredible wild ranges from salt-washed mangroves on the shore to virgin Atlantic rainforests in the good countries and what high countries they are! Delegated by the powerful, needle-like feign of Pico Cao Grande, the park takes off straight into the mists. Along the coast, the mountains appear as incredible square-cut slopes; grand and pleased over the floods of the Atlantic Ocean beneath. Safaris and journeys here will uncover lovely tropical backwoods, alongside dim parrots, mona monkeys and heaps of super uncommon cases!


The beaches are a big draw on any island, frankly, you could head to any end and just enjoy the sands, it would be your own private beach in a way. For people who rush to São Tomé to see the uncommon marvel of turtles climbing over the beaches and laying their eggs, there's maybe no greater destination than the circular segment of brilliant sand that is Jale Beach. Bending its way around the curves of the southern coast, this inlet is known as one of the top spots to spot jeopardised ocean turtles during the mating season. It's likewise famous with local swimmers, and there's a grasp of provincial beach hovels made out of bamboo and palm branches in the event that you wouldn't fret bedding down to a retreating track of slamming Atlantic waves.


Some of the key landmarks to visit in São Tomé and Príncipe are listed in the above sections. However, if you are looking for something beyond the usual, given below are a couple of options that are worth considering:

  • Boca de Inferno: The inquisitive topographical arrangements that jab out to meet the swells of the Atlantic on the eastern shore of São Tomé discover their pinnacle with the strikingly-named Boca de Inferno (that is Hell's Mouth in English). Guests run to this spot simply a short drive south of the capital, to see as the pungent whitecaps run into the shore, and the flows draw water into an underground cavern, all before they shoot high as can resemble some marine fountain. The sight is truly something all alone; improved all the by the dazzling dark stone precipices and volcanic headlands extending out and emitting from the coast for what it's worth.
  • Santana: A mainstream spot for beach enthusiasts and extravagance searchers looking for São Tomé's legendary mixed drink of sand, ocean and sun on the Atlantic, the little town of Santana spills down to the shoreline on the eastern edge of the island, arising out of the lean palms of the wilderness and the volcanic slopes like some failed to remember town in the place that is known for Robinson Crusoe. It's known fundamentally for the acclaimed Club Santana Resort, which offers cottages and pretty cabanas simply a stone's toss from the brilliant sands of Santana Beach. There are additionally rooms set on the rocky feigns along the shore, alongside jumping administrators, boat visit openings and then some.


São Tomé and Príncipe are two islands off the coast of Africa that are small in size but have a rich history, heritage and culture. Much of the world is obviously unaware and oblivious of this. Thus, tourists visiting these islands must endeavour to dive into the historical significance of the islands and what better place to do that other than the museums situated here. The São Sebastião Museum and the Museu Nacional De São Tomé & Príncipe are two perfect destinations to head to if you wish to see some artefacts and get first hand knowledge from authentic sources about these islands.


Fish is a staple of the São Toméan diet, frequently presented with breadfruit and crushed, cooked bananas. Tropical organic products, like pineapple, avocado, and bananas, are huge components of the cooking. The utilization of hot flavors is unmistakable in São Tomése food. The assortment of fish is wide, including flying fish at specific seasons. Inland, numerous São Toméans get their protein from buzios, enormous land snails. Ocean snails are likewise very normal along the coast. Notwithstanding the servile neediness, São Toméans can generally depend on some food from the wide exhibit of tropical natural products. The hotels in the capital offer European-style dishes but at European costs.


When it comes to non-alcoholic beverages you can enjoy some fruit juices, cocktails and coffee on these islands. As far as alcoholic beverages is considered, beer is promptly accessible all over the place, however, São Toméans are not known as large consumers of alcohol. Local brands incorporate Creolla and Rosema. Inland, palm wine is accessible reasonably from merchants along the street. In the capital, bourbon and different spirits are well known among the elites. Wine, particularly Portuguese vinho verde, is well known with fish dishes.


An absence of sufficient water treatment frameworks implies that the water quality in São Tomé and Príncipe is sketchy. Certain districts far away from the watercourses are liable to water deficiencies. This is particularly valid for the rustic regions in the country, which use water straightforwardly from the streams and rivers. Thus, as a tourist, it is recommended that you stick to bottled mineral water at all times if you wish to avoid falling gravely ill.


As a tourist, when you are touring São Tomé and Príncipe you must realise that you are completely surrounded by nature. Hence, all the interesting activities here shall be linked to the magnificence of the island in its raw form. Thus, tourists can indulge in swimming in the ocean, lounging on the sandy beaches, work on their tan and much more. The vast jungle cover on both islands also gives tourists the opportunity to explore the wilderness and perhaps even try their hand at photography in the wild. The waterfalls across the islands are spectacular and tourists bored of bathing in the ocean can have fun under some of these. Since the equator passes through, one can experience both the hemispheres of the world under each foot. Being close to ocean tourists can learn about sea turtles and even experience holding a few on a guided tour. The ocean also gives tourists the opportunity to learn surfing here. Last but not the least, the Portuguese influence allows tourists to learn some Capoeira and strengthen their self defence here.


A little bunch of hotels exist in the capital. Close to the town of Santana lies a pure overnight boardinghouse with dazzling perspectives. Lavish hotels have been worked at the northern and southern limits of the country, on the little island of Ilheu das Rolas, and at Ilha Bom off the bank of Príncipe.

Green Hotels

Being in the middle of the ocean on islands surrounded by nature on all sides, tourists do not need to worry much about green hotels here. The most luxurious hotels on the island follow international standards of sustainability while providing you all the possible luxuries. Hence, given below are some hotels worth considering as accommodation for your trip to the islands:

  • Roca Santo Antonio Ecolodge
  • Omali São Tomé
  • Pestana São Tomé
  • Praia Inhame Eco Lodge
  • Mucumbli
  • Club Santana

Hostels and Guest Houses

Hostels are regularly a sensational decision for youthful grown-ups who are hoping to visit nations on a tight spending plan. Hostels offer a lively, youthful and dynamic atmosphere and living spaces for people to mingle. The current generation of hostels offer a large group of amenities, shared spaces and administrations that are likened to significant hotel chains, that too for a portion of the expense. However, these aren't explicitly present in São Tomé and Príncipe and tourists shall have to rely on budget hotels at best.


Renting apartments in São Tomé and Príncipe is known to be a rather complicated decision. Notwithstanding, the rental rates are alluded to be affordable and as tourists, you would have to consider the decision in case you are living for broad time intervals, or if you regard your privacy, or if you a few mates living with you, that way you will keep an essential separation from the luxurious rates and resolute standards and rules of hostels and hotels. However, safety is a major issue on the islands and living beyond safe hotels shall endure a certain set of challenges for tourists.


Couchsurfing in São Tomé and Príncipe is a seldom opted for choice by most tourists. While some families here are warm and welcoming, they often need the money and the arrangement shall be no lesser than a homestay where you end up paying for having certain amenities.


Camping in São Tomé and Príncipe is a good option as you shall be surrounded by nature and the experience shall truly be interesting and adventurous. However, tourists are warned against randomly camping as he wildlife is dangerous, more so camping in isolated spots can be a major safety issue. Thus, always indulge in camping in São Tomé and Príncipe with known and trustworthy local folk.



Getting There and Moving Around

Travelling to São Tomé and Príncipe is not very easy as the two are islands off the coast of Africa and despite decent levels of tourism, they are not immensely thronged by tourists annually. Given in the sections below are the various options worth considering.


There are three week-after-week flights with the Portuguese carrier TAP from Lisbon to São Tomé, with stops in Accra. The national transporter STP Airways has departures from Lisbon to São Tomé and back on Tuesdays. The two transporters have extra trips during high travel seasons, like December/January. Africa's Connection STP flies three times each week to Príncipe and discontinuously to Douala and Libreville.


Reaching the island is only possible via plane. However, to move around the islands there are a few buses but none of these are in great condition and nor are they reliable.


There is no rail network on the island and thus travelling to the island or even around the island by train is impossible.


Hitching a ride in São Tomé and Príncipe is possible but extremely risky as tourists are often mugged and looted. Hence, to stay safe it is recommended that you avoid hitchhiking.


Beyond the above-listed means of transport, one can try and get a boat to travel to the islands or even between the islands. Whereas travelling around the islands is best done in a self-driven rented car.

Sustainable Shopping

The question of sustainable shopping simply doesn’t arise in São Tomé and Príncipe as the islands are a beacon of sustainable markets with most products sold being prepared in a sustainable manner by local companies that boost the local economy. This includes everything right from clothing to fresh food products and much more. Only electronic items, processed food and other goods are imported.


Recycling in São Tomé and Príncipe is known to be strictly average and there is an urgent need to develop resources linked to this field. Tourists are recommended to focus on sustainable methods of living while touring the island as any and all plastic waste generated shall end up in a dump somewhere further polluting the island.


Waste collection in São Tomé and Príncipe is rather straightforward and if you are a tourist, you needn’t worry too much about it, just segregate your waste while disposing of in the bins given by your hotel, they shall take care of the rest for you.

Work and Study Abroad

Work opportunities in São Tomé and Príncipe aren’t much, the reason behind this is quite simple, the two islands have a sizeable population for the percentage of the area inhabited. With a limited number of industrial activities and average growth, the demand simply is sufficient to employ locals mainly. Thus, working here isn’t an option for many in Africa barring sectors such as hospitality and tourism, which does have some scope in São Tomé and Príncipe. As far as education is concerned, most of the young adults from the islands themselves travel to other African nations for enrolment in reputed universities.

Exchange Student

There aren’t many exchange programmes that are supported by local colleges or the government, hence, one may not see too many exchange students.

Au Pair

Being an Au Pair in São Tomé and Príncipe is a rare opportunity as this is only offered by foreigners living on these islands and the locals are oblivious to the concept itself.


While these islands don’t face too many ecological issues, there are concerns about lack of awareness with regard to sanitation, healthcare, education and much more. Volunteers are often working towards eradicating such issues and you too could chip in.

See Also