Sao Tome: Perhaps, Africa’s best-kept secret

Scroll down to content

My friend Dave is doing a guest post for us on a place that has actually been on my bucket list for a long time. Enjoy

Sao Tome and Principe are two of the most beautiful unspoiled islands you will ever find. The island nation is also Africa’s least visited country. So come and see them, but don’t tell anyone else you’re going. 

Located off the west coast of Africa on the Gulf of Guinea, the former Portuguese Colony of Sao Tome and Principe were uninhabited at the time of discovery. The fertile volcanic soil made the island ideal for sugar, coffee, and cocoa, still the primary crops today.

After centuries of colonial rule, the Portuguese have left their mark.  The European presence can be felt in the music, art, language, architecture, and food. Most of the Santomeans are of mixed African and Portuguese descent.

The capital city of Sao Tome is also called Sao Tome
Portuguese architecture is prevalent in all the major cities
Given the island’s proximity to the equator, most buildings feature open ventilation to catch the ocean breeze.


The island has the required waterfalls and beaches needed to be an island paradise, but it gives you something unexpected. Privacy. Only approximately 13,000 tourists visit each year. The islands are very safe and friendly. I’m not sure why more people come, but until they do enjoy the seclusion while you can.

The nation contains two primary islands Sao Tome and Principe plus a few archipelagos. There are over a hundred miles of open sea separating the two. Principe is by far the least visited of the two islands. But Sao Tome has the best infrastructure.


The Big Dog, Pico Cao Grande.  (dog’s tooth) This is one of the most massive Volcanic Plugs on the planet. Standing over a thousand feet over the jungle below and if you factor in the base, the whole thing is over 2,500 feet tall. A climber’s ultimate fantasy. But beware, snakes live in the rocks, and several climbers have been bitten trying to make the ascent.

Everything you could possibly want and less can be found on the islands.  Less exorbitant tourist charges, fewer crowds, and secluded beaches. The only real expense you may discover is getting here. The island isn’t on a lot of airlines direct routes. It took three stops from Newark to get here. But when you do come you’ll find long, blonde abandoned beaches, massive, craggy green mountains, and laid-back locals who are really glad you came. They’re just not too eager for the word to get out and have their pristine island bespot with touristic hordes. So please come to visit. But keep it to yourself.



Leave a Reply