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wojtekd Santo Antonio - A travel report by Wojciech
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Santo Antonio,  Sao Tome and Principe - flag Sao Tome and Principe
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wojtekd's travel reports

Principe - Island of Paradise

  34 votes
Page: 1 2
report of the month contest
Aug 2003

Santo Antonio travelogue picture
Many of us dream about escaping to the beautiful, unspoiled tropical island - far from the noisy world... It is no longer commercialized Tahiti where jet planes land several times each day. It is not Hawaii with hordes of tourists and luxury, multi-floor hotels. It is closer to Europe: PRINCIPE ISLAND. Try to find on your map little insular country of Sao Tome & Principe. It is located 200 km off the western coast of Africa, exactly on the equator. It is almost unknown to the outside world. It is also much safer for the foreigner then other countries of West Africa. This is your place to discover!... The only gateways to this forgotten republic are Lisbon (TAP and Air Luxor flights cost around 700 USD for round trip) and Libreville in Gabon (210 USD). There are also irregular commercial boats from Libreville harbor...

Favourite spots:
Santo Antonio travelogue picture
Tiny and poor country - former Portuguese colony consists of two inhabited islands: bigger Sao Tome and little Principe. Sao Tome with capital city is more developed and there is more places of interest to see. Few tourists go from Sao Tome Island to Principe - 150 km north. But it is definitely worth a visit. Once in Sao Tome and ready for the trip to Principe you have a choice of small commercial boat (10 hours across the rough sea, 10 USD one way) and daily twin-otter plane of Air Sao Tome (30 min, 130 USD round trip). It is 16-seater only but sometimes flights to Principe are cancelled due to the lack of passengers so try to book well ahead and be flexible... Airstrip on Principe is in the middle of the jungle. There is no bus service to Santo Antonio - island's only township - so try to hitch or just walk to the capital of the island - it is only 2 km downhill.

What's really great:
Santo Antonio travelogue picture
Friendly people and beautiful landscape, remote palm-fringed beaches, colonial architecture. During my stay I did not see any other tourist on the island except few diplomats and businessmen guarded by security in isolated Bombom Resort. The island has only 12 kilometers of beaten roads. There is no public transport except one erratic minibus so rather plan to walk or hitchhike. Manager of Pensao Palhota offers expensive pickup services: to Banana Beach - 20 USD, Porto Real or Evoro- 10, Terreiro Velho - 15, Bombom or Sundy - 20. Take appropriate supply of treated water since in the little villages you will not find it on sale.

Santo Antonio travelogue picture
There are many nice and empty beaches. I liked most Banana Beach located close to Roca Belo Monte (see the first picture above). Rocas - old plantation buildings are worth to see. The best preserved are: Porto Real (abandoned), Belo Monte and Sundy. In the colonial past Sao Tome and Principe was famous for its coffee and cocoa plantations depended on slave labor. Now there is still small - scale production, but on Principe most of plantation buildings are in the ruin. The interesting gate to Belo Monte plantation (see picture) is well known from posters and postcards...

Santo Antonio travelogue picture
The choice is limited. Centrally located in Santo Antonio Pensao Palhota offers a/c rooms with fridge and breakfast for 50 USD. But I stayed as the only guest in Pensao Residencial Arca Noe (what a name!) which still have old, colonial charm. They charge 20 USD per room with fan, communal shower, clean bed linen and mosquito net... You will sleep like a prince! Almost every place here accept payment in US dollars (bring a lot of small US notes) but they have local currency: it is called dobra.
1 USD is worth about 9000 dobra (9500 on the street). Sample prices: can of coke or little beer- 5000. Mineral water (1,5 l) - 8000, 1000 per big bread roll. In the pink building on the Praca (it is former church - see picture) they have (hard to believe!) internet cafe - I paid 10 000 dobra for 15 min of slow access to the net.

Santo Antonio travelogue picture
Surprisingly there is also an oasis of luxury on Principe: Bombom Island Resort - located partly on the little island Bombom. They have 25 a/c bungalows, swimming pool, marina, restaurant and bar. If you are rich enough to pay 175 USD per day per person (full board) this is the place to go! Paying extra money you can rent motorboat with skipper for sail around the island or snorkeling wherever you wish. They also organize deep sea, big game fishing - millionaires can find in the ocean blue marlins yellow-fin tunas and sailfish... The guests of Bombom Resort have free airstrip pickup but you need to arrange your departure in advance. Remember - there is no domestic airport tax on Principe but you will pay 2 taxes (20 USD and 3700 dobra) leaving Sao Tome - these taxes are not included in the price of the ticket.

Other recommendations:
Santo Antonio travelogue picture
Principe is famous for the landscapes. You can climb with the guide (contact Pensao Palhota) the highest peak of the island: Pico de Principe. Without a guide you can take a walk to the other side of the island - to Sao Joaquin - for a nice view of rock pinnacles and Bay of Alughas. People are very friendly and helpful but they speak only Portuguese - so it pays to take your phrasebook with you. More pictures you can see on my Principe pages:

Published on Saturday August 23th, 2003

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Tue, Mar 28 2006 - 01:16 PM rating by sajjanka


Sat, Jan 14 2006 - 08:37 AM rating by mj2004

This seems such a beautiful place!

Sat, Nov 12 2005 - 08:38 PM rating by alfonsovasco


Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 09:24 AM rating by miguelmarchi

I had to check my atlas to find this island1 Very well!

Sat, Oct 22 2005 - 04:51 PM rating by toribio


Mon, Dec 13 2004 - 05:34 PM rating by magsalex

You certainly seem to visit interesting and obscure destinations. Great report.

Tue, Dec 07 2004 - 10:18 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii woj
nice to read your report and excellenty written

Thu, Aug 05 2004 - 09:28 AM rating by nedkelly

Man you get around abit dont you fella. What an awesome looking place.
do you know if it gets much surf and how consistent is it?

Sat, Nov 01 2003 - 08:48 AM rating by moehre

That sounds like the next place we're going to, thank you.

Sat, Sep 06 2003 - 05:20 PM rating by cycleboy

Hi Wojciech,
you always find remote but interesting places around the world. And everyone of your articles is excellent. Congratulations to this one.

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