The islands have beautiful beaches, but there is so much else to do and see that this should not be the main reason for travelling to São Tomé e Príncipe. The nature on the islands is overwhelming and there are good hiking opportunities.
The time difference with Europe is minimal, so travellers will not suffer from jet lag.
Nature lovers can discover plants and birds that can only be found on the islands. Depending on the season it is possible to watch whales or to see sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs on (protected) beaches.
There are many old colonial buildings to visit (some in better shape than others). It is also possible to explore the plantations and to see how, for example, coffee, cacao and vanilla are being produced.
Throughout the year, the temperatures during the day will stay at around 25-28°C, with temperatures dropping to 18-21°C at night. The many microclimates result in different weather patterns in the various parts of the islands.
São Tomé island has a broad range of accommodation, varying from luxurious hotels to simple guest houses. For longer stays, it is also possible to rent rooms or apartments. There are also a few plantation houses, such as Roça São João that offer accommodation and as well as eco-lodges, such as Praia Inhame Eco Lodge.
The three major hotels on São Tomé island are operated by the Portuguese Pestana Group. There are a number of smaller hotels, such as Omali Lodge Boutique Hotel, Hotel Praia, Hotel Agôsto Neto, Hotel Bigodes, Hotel Cocoa Residence and Hotel Residencia Avenida.
Thee is also a considerable Airbnb offering.
Accommodation in Príncipe is more limited. Omali Lodge’s sister hotel in Príncipe is the Bom Bom Island Resort. Recently, the luxurious Roça Belo Monte was opened in a converted plantation house. Príncipe also has a number of (simple) guest houses. Local travel agents can book accommodation as well as car hire and interesting tours, for example São Férias or Navetur
The capitals of São Tomé (also called São Tomé) and Príncipe (Santo António) are interesting places to visit with a considerable number of old colonial buildings and very atmospheric.
São Tomé town has a number of special places to visit, such as the National Museum, which located in the fortress, the public market, the cathedral, the presidential palace and the CACAU cultural centre, close to the fortress. It is also possible to see how top quality chocolate is made (from special cacao beans from Príncipe) at the laboratory of Claudio Corallo, located on the Marginal.
In terms of nature, there are plenty of things to do and see. The island of Príncipe is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. A large part of São Tomé consists of rain forest (with a mountain of approx 2000 meters) located in the Obo Natural Park (which includes the botanical garden of Bom Succeso). Research is still being done into the flora and fauna of the islands and new species are regularly discovered.
There are plenty of beaches to visit. None of them have specific facilities, so bring food, beverages, towels etc., which can be bought in supermarkets and neighbourhood shops.
The following plantation villages (roças) are well known and worthwhile visiting.
It is possible to stay in Roça Bombaim and Roça São João. Entering the names of the roças in an internet search engine will show pictures of the (generally) crumbling buildings. Most plantation villages are still operational and produce coffee and cacao. However, there is much poverty and the reception of visitors in the bigger roças may not always be that welcoming. It is therefore recommended to visit them (and other less discovered parts of the country) with a local guide.