3 Days in Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe is that small two-island nation in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa that you’ve never thought about! It’s pretty far from anywhere in North America and it isn’t cheap or easy to get to any way you slice it. It’s not the most beautiful island you’ll ever go to but it’s a nice place to spend a few relaxing days. Here’s how I spent my 3 days in Sao Tome and Principe.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Pestana Hotel
My friend and I arrived early from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Ceiba Intercontinental; which I flew 4 times this trip. This was ironically the same flight I took several years ago en route to Gabon that stopped in Sao Tome. The people from the Pestana Sao Tome Hotel picked us up and brought us to the hotel.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Pestana Hotel
The Pestana is unquestionably the best place to stay in Sao Tome. They say it’s a 5-star hotel but it’s more of a 1970’s style 4-star that could use a renovation. It actually reminded me of the inside of the Brady Bunch house! But it’s certainly more than adequate. They have a nice pool, beautiful grounds, a good spa, decent pizzas, a bar and an OK restaurant. They allegedly have a casino as well but I never actually saw it! All visiting VIP’s stay there, even Sepp Blatter of FIFA infamy!
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Pestana Hotel, Sepp Blatter
The day we arrived, we were exhausted from our trip that had been nonstop for about 10 days. Plus we were both sore from playing and walking 18 holes in Equatorial Guinea in 10,000 degree heat the prior day. So we decided to relax for the day. I basically used the day to catch up on work and got a ridiculously good 75-minute massage for only 80 Euros at the top-notch oceanfront spa in the hotel. It was just what the doctor ordered and I felt rejuvenated.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Pestana Hotel, pool
Sometimes when you travel for periods of time, especially in the developing world, you need days to catch up mentally and physically with work, life and your body. It’s OK to take some downtime and enjoy a nice hotel, a massage or just hanging out. I don’t do it often but when I do I never regret it!
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Pestana Hotel
Day 2 was spent doing a full-on island tour of Sao Tome. We hired a driver for 70 Euros each to take us around the northern half of the island and show us all the best spots. He was actually an excellent driver and really did a great job. We arranged it through the hotel so I don’t know the name of the company but it’s whomever they use.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Pestana Hotel
We thought about renting a car and doing it ourselves but the roads are crap and there are no signs. So you’d spend half your time lost on dirt tracks and asking people for directions in a language I suck at. So we made the right call!
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, shipwreck
Sao Tome is a cool place to check out but it’s not a tropical paradise by any means. It’s not that pretty but it’s pretty interesting. Our first stop was to a fishing beach where there are several shipwrecks. We both thought this was pretty cool, got some fun pictures and got some good info from the guide. Hopefully you saw my Snapchat or Instagram Stories where I detailed this.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, shipwreck
We then made our way up the coast along some dreadful dirt paths and eventually came out at Praia Dos Tamarinos; which is said to be the best beach on the island. I’d have to agree based on what we saw as I’m sure you will too from my photos!
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Praia Dos Tamarinos
What’s great about spending 3 days in Sao Tome and Principe is that there are so few tourists. You basically have a big beautiful beach all to yourself. There were a few Portuguese tourists from our hotel who came afterwards but that was it.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Praia Dos Tamarinos
Further along we had a nice lunch in Guadalupe and headed to the most famous sight in Sao Tome, the Lagoa Azul or Blue Lagoon. It kind of sucked and I was expecting more. The coolest thing wasn’t the lagoon but the baobab trees that surrounded it. I was surprised to see these weird looking monsters! I felt like I was in Madagascar!
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Lagoa Azul, Blue lagoon
Afterwards we continued all the way past Neves to where the Portuguese first landed centuries ago and to some cocoa plantations. Cocoa is the islands chief export but they’ve been decimated recently because of corruption and mismanagement for years. That said, it was neat to see two of the major plantations even though they had a strange cult-like feel. It looked and felt straight out of Jonestown or something and we didn’t want to drink the Kool-Aid! I didn’t take pictures because everyone was staring at us!
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Presidential Palace
Our third and final day was spent in Sao Tome relaxing for the long journey home and catching up on whatever we needed to do. Sao Tome city itself is OK to walk around along the water and there is some cool Portuguese architecture by the hotel.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Cathedral
Independence Square is nice enough and nearby is the big pink Presidential Palace and the Cathedral. Both cool to look at for a minute but nothing crazy. However, back a few blocks, it’s a typical chaotic African city with markets and people everywhere. This is always cool to check out, especially if you’ve never seen this type of thing before as my buddy Joe had not.
3 days in Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome and Principe, Sao Tome, Pool, Pestana Hotel
So that’s basically how we spent our 3 days in Sao Tome and Principe. It’s a very chilled out place and easy to relax. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to get out to Principe itself because the flights are not regular nor reliable-much like Wallis and Futuna. It would’ve been really rushing to do a night there. Plus, there is no guarantee the flight back would’ve went and we couldn’t risk missing our outbound flight back to Lisbon, Portugal, as we would’ve been stuck several days more. So next time!

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  1. I’ve honestly never heard of this place, don’t think I’m stupid, but it looks nice! I love following your adventures! Thanks!

  2. Malaysian fan says

    Great, that place is looking so beautiful and shared so good information about that beautiful place. water is one of the best attraction of that beautiful place and so stunning photos you shared of that beautiful place.

  3. Dude you’re too funny with the weird ass places you go! Glad you made it in and out of all these ransoms countries! See you in a few days man.

  4. You’re definitely the most interesting travel blogger I follow!

  5. One of the most seldom places to be heard. Even I didn’t know this until you showed this marvelous photo of the beach and its surrounding destinations!

  6. Love to see the adventures there.. and especially that shipwreck will be great to be captured hehe.. thank u for sharing about Sao Tome, maybe not many people know about this place including me.. looking forward for your next adventure

  7. It’s amazing what you can really see within three days within a country!

  8. robertson khruschev says

    i don’t know who you are or how you have amassed 100k plus followers, but your ‘travel blog’ is a piece of shit. i sincerely hope you are not making money off this.

    first, ‘OK’ is not an acceptable adjective to use to describe a country or a city. second, you cannot, with any authority, declare ‘best’ anything after three days in a place.

    for anybody actually interested in the world, sao tome IS actually a tropical paradise with great beaches and spectacular natural beauty. on a recent short trip, i saw green and leatherback turtles nesting on the beach outside my bungalow at night, watched baby turtles hatch and make their way to the sea, and swam with dolphins. palm wine is the local poison and the roadside bars selling it from jars are a good place to meet the neighbours. and the banana cakes made of pressed bananas and palm oil are delicious.

    having said all of this, i don’t begrudge anyone the experience of staying at a comfortable resort with cheap massages. i just don’t expect to read about it on a ‘travel blog’. mostly because it is fcking boring.

  9. I was somewhat more enthusiastic about the place- but maybe that\’s because I went South (and to Principe) rather than North. The beaches in the South are spectacular, the rainforest denser and the landscapes wilder than the drier, more arid North (however it does rain a lot more). Principe is simply paradise. As of December 2016, there were 6 flights a week leaving to a defined schedule; getting between the islands was pretty easy. STP is definitely somewhere which is going to grow in popularity- at only 5.5 hours from Europe, stable, with nice people, food, beaches, turtles, rainforest, whale watching etc. The cost of getting there has been going down for some time due to competition- there are now 2 airlines flying direct from Lisbon and TAP has increased their flights from one a week to four a week.

    Definitely somewhere I\’d be happy to go back to.

  10. I am from Sao Tome e Principe current livinng in United Kingdom. Before we understand what Lee means by \”not a paradise\”, perhaps he could help by explain what he looks for in a paradise, because some would argue that these few picture that he has provided us, are themselves very characteristic of paradise. But there is in the other end, a degree of under investment that have been taking place for years, and that can affect people\’s perception of the Country. Despite Sao Tome being one of the smallest country on earth, I would still advise you Lee, to take a bit more time exploiting the interior, where you would find breathtaking waterfalls, mind-blowing diversities of birds species, visit the monkeys forest for instance, not to mention jaw-dropping marine life. I have to say these picture above, are not close to the best you can see on my Island. I will finish by saying that Sao Tome and Principe is very much a paradise! But it also a looks untidy and old in some aspect. It\’s like walk into a royal palace and see that the paint are coming off the wall, and few chandelier are falling out of ceiling. And yes Lee did rush his judgement, but he is only a human after all.

  11. I’ve been dying to visit the Sao Tome (it’s so freaking gorgeous) there are lots of places in this article that I didn’t even know about. So thanks for introducing me to some new lovelies to add to my bucket list!

  12. You didn’t manage to get to Principe? I stayed two weeks in Sao Tome & Principe last year, and Principe was by far my favorite out of the two islands. https://www.unusualtraveler.com/category/sao-tome-principe/

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