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Principe Island Travel Guide |Sao Tome, Attractions, Hotels, Resorts & More

Principe is the smallest and least developed of the two islands that make up the country, Sao Tome & Principe.

If you had the thought that the main island Sao Tome was unexplored and beautiful, wait until you visit Principe. Of the 100 plus countries I have now been to, Principe is the closest you will get to an untouched paradise in the world.

The baseball cap island of the south eastern part of Principe.
The baseball cap island of the southeastern part of the island

This tropical paradise will have you counting down the days until you return. Picture untouched rainforests, plastic-free beaches, and friendly locals.

There are also plenty of activities on the island to keep you busy for days. I’m definitely going back! 

If you would like more information on the entire nation, check out this travel guide to Sao Tome & Principe.

Reaching Principe Island

Reaching Principe is not the easiest feat in the world; there is only one flight a day from the main island of Sao Tome.

But if you want to do it like the locals, you will have to take a cargo boat. During my visit, however, I had to wait over a week because of the rough sea. 

There’s no set schedule for the boat, so you will have to ask around the harbor office for the next departure. Taking the boat is also not the safest way.

From the last edition of The Bradt Guide, the only guidebook to Sao Tome & Principe, below you can see that taking a flight is by far the best option.

boat principe sao tome
Taking the local boat might not be safe.
The whole Principe Airport. One flight a day.
The local Airport. One flight a day only to main Sao Tome Island
sao tome principe flight
The only flight to the island is with STP Airways.

The only airline that flies to Principe is STP Airways. A return ticket will cost you around 110 Euros if booked well in advance. If booked only a few days in advance or from the local office, it will cost you around 220 Euros. 

Tip: It’s cheaper to book the ticket from the Portuguese version of the web page than the English.

principe island sao tome
The green island

Accommodation in Sao Tome & Principe 

When it comes to staying in Sao Tome & Principe, there aren’t many Bed-and-Breakfasts or self-catering homes for rent. Camping is also not really an option.

Luckily there are a few Principe and Sao Tome hotels and resorts available on the island of Principe. 

Sao Tome and Principe Hotels

The D&D Delmata is your best and only option, and it is in Santo Antonio town. According to the Bradt Guide, there should be four or five other Sao Tome island hotels/guesthouses in the town, but they all seemed closed down during my visit.

Sao Tome and Principe Resorts

Most people stay in one of the resorts here, Belo Monte, Bom Bom (the fanciest one), Roca Sundy (the historical one), or Makaria Lodge (the cheapest one).

All of the resorts include breakfast and dinner in the rate. Most of the resorts, except Roca Sundy, have private beaches and a swimming pool. They all offer free pickup and drop-off at the airport too.

resort principe sao tome
The Beautiful Belo Monte Resort, once a cocoa plantation now a beautiful resort.

Belo Monte Resort offers scuba diving and kayaking with an English-speaking guide.

Bom Bom and Makaria Lodge offer paddle boarding, and all the resorts on the beach offer free use of snorkeling gear. The resorts can also arrange a local guide for hikes around the island.

One of the old Portuguese coffee plantations, now a 5 star hotel on Principe
One of the old Portuguese coffee plantations, now a beautiful 5-star hotel
Roco Belo Monte Hotel bar principe
The classic bar at the Roco Belo Monte Hotel
Principe hotel
The Terrace at Roco Monte Hotel is a perfect place for a drink

Príncipe Island Attractions

The island of Principe, Africa, has something for everyone, from the adventurous traveler to those who just want to kick back on the beach.

Local guides are the best ways to see everything that the island has to offer. Most of the Sao Tome resorts also have connections to the top attractions in Principe, so it would be best to ask around at your hotel.

sao tome sunset
Principe has some incredible sunsets.
fresh fruit sao tome
Fresh fruit for lunch with local black coffee

Biosphere Reserve

The southern part of Principe is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s home to no more than three species of turtles, including being a hatching spot for the leatherback. 

Birthplace of World’s Best Chocolate 

Principe is now home to what is considered to be one of the best chocolates in the world, Claudio Corallo. This famous chocolatier created a cocoa bean without bitterness.

His creativity and passion are what make his cocoa and his chocolate one of the yummiest in the world.

Claudio Corallo Chocolate Sao Tome
Claudio Corallo world´s best chocolate from Sao Tome


sao tome and principe
Small local village in the middle of the green jungle

The local government on Principe has also made a significant effort when it comes to hiking. While some of the hikes require a guide, there are also other rumored hikes around the island.

The government has put up signs and marked trails around Principe. I saw at least six signs like this, and according to Jose, my trusty local guide, they are working on more.

Hiking map Principe
One of many hikes around the island

World-Class Beaches

But if you’re not on Principe for the hiking, then the easiest thing to do is just relax on one of the world-class beaches on the northern part of the island.

Sao Tome beach africa
Peaceful beach without crowds

The most famous beach on the island is the Banana Beach that these days belongs to the Belo Monte Resort (another Stunning cocoa plantation now a hotel).

This beach was used in the Bacardi Rum commercial some years ago.

Banana beach sao tome
The Banana beach, once used in a Bacardi commercial
The famous Banana Beach
The famous Banana Beach in Principe
Can´t complain about the beach here, no garbage, no annoying sells men. just paradise.
I can´t complain about the beach here, no garbage, no annoying sells men—just paradise.

Money Tips for Visiting Principe Island

Like on the main island, there are no ATMs here, so you will have to carry cash with you. All the big resorts offer payment by PayPal or bank transfer to their bank account in Portugal or in Euro/USD.

I couldn’t find any money exchangers in Santo Antonio. So, you better exchange money on Sao Tome before coming here.

Bom Bom resort in Príncipe
Bom Bom resort from above

Santo Antonio Town

Principe only has one town, Santo Antonio, often called the smallest town in the world.

So if you’re not staying on one of the four expensive resorts in the northern part of the island, Santo Antonio is the only other place that offers accommodation on Principe.

principe bar
Watching European football at a local bar.
The only town on Principe, Santo Antonio
The only town on the Island, Santo Antonio

Santo Antonio is also the only place with something close to a supermarket, a local market, a post office, a few bars and restaurants (that seem to be open only when they feel like it).

sao tome beaches
Relax in paradise

There’s no public transportation around the Island, but it’s still easy to get around. Santo Antonio is easy to walk around. After all, it’s the smallest town in the world.

Getting Around the Island from Santo Antonio

If you want to visit some of the remote villages and beaches around the Island, simply head to the local market to hire a local motorbike from a local. You could also just ask a local to drive you.

They are happy to do it for a small fee.

However, your best option is to go to the small Government Agriculture and Botanical office on the way to the local market and ask for Jose that works there.

His English is very good (for Sao Tome & Principe standard), and he will be happy to drive you all over the island on the back of his motorbike for a very reasonable fee.

Principe sao tome island
The baseball camp island

He’s also very knowledgeable about the local fauna on the island. He knows practically everyone on the island.

Thanks to him, you will be able to visit remote communities, viewpoints, and places that you will never be able to find on your own. I can’t recommend him enough.

locals principe
locals kids playing

Einstein’s Theory Put to the Test

The Roça Sundy Cocoa Plantation (now converted into a beautiful hotel) was the first place where Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was tested and proven in 1919 by a British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington.

He traveled to the island of Príncipe to find the perfect location from which to view a predicted eclipse.

This was the only time Principe has probably been mentioned in the big news around the world. You can stand in the exact same spot where the theory of relativity was tested.

It is marked with white tiles and an inscription with some information. 

Roça Sundy Cocoa Plantation the place Einsteins theory was proven
Roça Sundy Cocoa Plantation the place Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
principe eistein
An information board is telling you the history
The exact spot where the British Astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington prove the theory.
The exact spot where the British Astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington proved the theory

Principe Plastic Policy

Like already mentioned in my Sao Tome & Principe general post, this country is one of, if not the cleanest country I have ever been to.

However, Principe island has taken it even a step further than the main island of Sao Tome.

Here in Principe, the locals recycle everything (might it be the only place in Africa?). And there’s a “Zero plastic on Principe” campaign on the island.

The goal is to make the island of Principe plastic-free by 2020 while also improving the recycling of organic trash and supporting a sustainable economy in the biosphere reserve. The locals are very proud of it.

While locals can trade 50 old plastic bottles for a stainless steel drinking bottle, Tourists are also encouraged to do their part.

You can buy a stainless steel drinking bottle that you can refill for free with clean drinking water from 13 freshwater fountains installed in public spaces around the island.

These include schools, markets, public administration buildings, and the airport.

All over the island, from the most remote communities in Santo Antonio to the Resorts, you will come across trash cans in 4 different colors.

Each color is for a different kind of material, and the locals use them religiously.

The locals on Principe recycle sao tome africa
The locals are very serious about recycling.

Visit Principe Island Today

The island of Principe is a natural wonder indeed. At the resorts and hotels in Sao Tome and Principe, you can have the tropical vacation of your dreams.

They can arrange local guides and activities to keep you entertained during your island stay.

If you are looking for Sao Tome and Principe hotels and resorts that have it all, then Bele Monte should be perfect for you.

If you are looking for a place to unwind with a cocktail in hand, then nearby famous beaches like banana beach allow you to do just that.

If you are still not convinced, then perhaps this post on the 15 reasons to visit Sao Tome & Principe might change your mind.

Travel guide to Principe island Sao Tome West Africa
Príncipe is the smallest and least developed of the two islands that make up the country Sao Tome & Principe. If you had the thought that the main island Sao Tome was unexplored and beautiful, wait for to you visit Principe. Principe is truly the last Paradise in Africa.


Saturday 28th of September 2019

We went to Sao Tome and Principe for birding but in Sao Tome Obo natiobal park the big birds endemics and monkeys are dissapering because the local people are hunting in the park and they do not have a law that protect the birds only the forest. Is like walking in an empty forest.We were dissaponted of not seeing the big birds and other endemics. Also in principe the locals hunt and trade the grey parrots they are not protected also the monkeys. I can not understand that the big hotels they do not support eco proyects because they are lossing their endemics birds and tourist they will not come. For good beach you do not need to travel outside europe.

Christian L.

Sunday 29th of September 2019

Hello Marie. That´s sad to head. The very few tourists I did meet, were very excited about the birdlife. So I guess it got much worse since I visited. Hopefully, the resorts will support the eco-project in the future.

Willem du Toit

Monday 20th of May 2019

Hi Is there a rock crusher on the island and a asphalt plant that can mix premix to tar roads on the island Thanks

Christian L.

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

I didn´t see any, and I don´t think there are any on Principe, I explored every single road on the island.


Wednesday 8th of May 2019

I'm gong to both Sao tome and Principe islands in September. I'm going to stay for 11 full days. How many of these days should I spend on Principe island? I'm not into beaches. But I love hiking and to visit new places. Should three days on Principe island then be enough? I have read that I have to bring cash there. How many euros should I bring if I stay there for 11 days? When I'm in Sao tome im going to stay in a guesthouse that cost 40 eur a night. If possible Ill stay in a cheap guesthouse in Principe, too.

Christian L.

Sunday 12th of May 2019


If you are not into beaches so are hiking the other main activity you can do on Principe. Accommodation on Principe is limited and more expensive than on main island Sao Tome. During my visit to Principe was there only 1 "cheap" guesthouse, but still expensive, I paid around 60Euro for a basic place. How many euro´s you should bring is difficult. But STP is not a cheap destination. So I would say around 70-80 Euro a day including accommodation on main island Sao Tome, and 100 on Principe. I was surprised how expensive STP was.


Wednesday 1st of May 2019

Hi Christian, many thanks for the wonderful article and for sharing your awesome trips. My boyfriend and I are actually struggling to find a destination for our next trip. We love nature and not super turistic places and we are undecided between STP and Borneo.....Do you think two weeks are ok for STP or will we have difficulty to find something to do? Furthermore we usually like to travel on our own such us by motorbike or car is it ok to do so in both islands? Many thanks!!!

Christian L.

Sunday 12th of May 2019

Hello Valentina. Sorry for the late reply, I've been travelling around Cuba for the last few weeks with limited internet. Two weeks is a good amount of time for STP, but you will have to do some hikes etc to get the days to pass by, the country is tinny and not much to do except for hiking and water activities. 2 weeks will probably be too much if you won´t do any hikes.

It´s easy to rent a car motorbike on Sao Tome island, but it will only take you maximum 3/4 days to drive the whole island, on Principe will it only take you a day to discover the island by car, but if you want to do some hiking can you easily spend a week there.

I absolutely loved STP, and I will defiantly go back one day, but I have no problem admitting that Borneo has a lot more to offer for a two week holiday than STP.

Simon Rutzer

Wednesday 10th of October 2018

Hi, great informations, you help me a lot! I want to go next january there and will flight from ghana to sao tome. I'm thinking bring my surfboard. Do you know are there any good spots for surfing?

Christian L.

Wednesday 10th of October 2018

Hello Simon. I'm not a surf expert, but I did see locals surfing along the southern coast, especially around Porto Alegre, I also remember seeing people leaving with surfboards every morning from the guesthouse I stayed in Sao Tome town. More than that can I not help you since I'm not a surfer myself. Sorry