Skip to Content

Sao Tome, Visiting The Southern Part And Crossing The Equator At Rolas Island.

The Southern Part of Sao Tome & Principe is probably the most touristy part of Sao Tome. If you can say that about the island, the roughly only sees 13 000 tourists a year.

The only country that gets closed to those numbers in Africa is the tiny country of Comoros, with roughly annual 24 000 visitors. Another great country that I have visited recently in Africa. Click Here To Read About This Gem Of The Coast Of East Africa, One of The Best Places To Swim With Whales In The World.

The Equator mark at Rolas island sao tome
The Equator mark at Rolas island

The Southern part of Sao Tome is where you will find the old abandoned Portuguese hospital, one of the most popular beaches in the country around Santana, the volcanic tower Cão Grande Peak the most famous landmark of Sao Tome & Principe, and the turtle sanctuary around Praia Jale.

Click here to if you are planning a trip to Sao Tome & Principe.

amazing beach in sao tome
One of the amazing beaches along the southern coast, without people

And you will be able to cross the equator at Rolas Island. And since it´s only roughly only 74Km from Sao Tome city down to the south end of the highway at Porto Alegre so is it easy to visit all of the above sites in just a single day on a day trip from the capital.

Sao Tome only got 140Km/87miles of paved roads around the entire island.

The quality of the road in the southern part of the country is flawless, compared to the northern part that´s full of potholes everywhere. If you would travel directly from Sao Tome City to Porto Alegre with shared taxis, would it take you just about one and a half-hour.

It´s easy and dirt cheap to take a shared taxi, but you will miss all the sights along the way since most of them are located a short detour off the main highway.

The road goes through an untouched forest in sao tome west africa
The road goes through the untouched forest.
The car I had for the day in Sao Tome
The car I had for the day.

So you much better off renting a car for 40-50 Euro a day, or hire a car with an English speaking driver for 80 Euro a day, I went for the second option.

Driving yourself would have been very easy because of the quality of the road and the small number of other cars on the way. I probably saw less than 50 cars for the whole day.

Renting a car with a driver is good since he knows a few detours along the way, to visit a waterfall, viewpoints and beaches with no people on. I was happy that I choose this option.

While there are a few options of Accommodation along the southern coast, like Santana Club, Praia Jale, Praia Inhame Eco-Lodge (from where you will take the boat to Rolas Island) and Rolas Island being the two best options.
The accommodation options are great, located on pristine beaches, but also really expensive and hard to reach with public transportation.

So if you travelling on a budget, are you much better of visiting all the places on a full-day trip from Sao Tome City.

sao tome stress free
No stress. A sign on the southern part of the island.

The old abandoned hospital of Roca Agua Ize is the first site along the south coast about 17Km/10,5 miles south of Sao Tome City.
Roca Agua Ize was once one of the biggest cocoa plantations (2900 hectares) in all of Sao Tome & Principe.

Today the plantation itself is abandoned, but back in the days when the Plantations was fully running was there more than 50 European workers and around 2500 locals here. The plantation itself is today a museum, but it was closed during my visit.

Água Izé village sao tome
Água Izé village.
A local bar in the village, where I stopped for a beer sao tome
A local bar in the village, where I stopped for a beer.

The local workers had their own village that´s still populated with locals today, and it had its own Hospital that was built in 1928; back then it was considered to be a state of the art hospital and the best in all of West Africa. Today has the ruins of the hospital become one of the most famous sites in all of Sao Tome & Principe.

The "famous" old Hospital in Roca Agua Ize sao tome
The “famous” old Hospital in Roca Agua Ize.
Roca Agua Ize Hospital, sao tome
Drone Photo of the Roca Agua Ize Hospital.
drone,stao tome,roca agua
Drone photo of Roca Agua Ize hospital.
old hospital sao tome
Locals are living inside the old hospital.
sao tome old forgotten hostpital
Old bed in the hospital.

Just a few minutes south of Roca Agua Ize is another famous site, the “Boca do Inferno” or better known as the Hell´s Mouth in English. A seaside cliff and a natural wonder, according to the locals, the place got its name from the sound that the waves from the ocean that´s constantly pounding the rocks makes.

It´s a good place for a shortstop to enjoy a fresh coconut from the coconut sells men here.

Boca de Inferno SAo Tome
Boca de Inferno or better known as Hell´s Mouth.

São João dos Angolares town is the biggest town along the south coast with a population of around 2500, the town itself is not much, but it´s home to one of the best if not the best restaurant in the whole country and an old cocoa plantation that now has been turned into an amazing eco-friendly guesthouse on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean.

I myself did not the chance to eat here since the restaurant was completely full when I wanted to visit, but everyone I meet bragged about the food here.

Pico Cão Grande, Sao tome
Road Towards Pico Cão Grande.

Just 15/20 min drive south from São João dos Angolares is the most famous site of Sao Tome & Principe is the Volcanic tower known as Pico Cao Grande 668m (2,192 ft)or “Great Dog Peak” is one of nature’s most impressive high-rise rocks anywhere in the world, this was the main reason I wanted to visit Sao Tome & Principe, is after seeing a picture of this rock.

Pico Cão Grande sao tome
Pico Cão Grande, from one of the viewpoints, if you want to get closer will you have to do a full day hike.
Pico Cão Grande sao tome
Close up with Pico Cão Grande.

Pico Gao Grande is viewable from the main road, but there are a few better viewpoints along the way.

If you plan in advance, is it possible to do a 3km hike through the thick jungle to the base of the Pico Gao Grande. The path is said not bee marked, so you are required to hire a local guide in advance.
I got told it would cost you 40Euro for a full day. I would definitely have done this if I knew it.

Pico Gao Grande was first climbed in 1975 by a Portuguese team of climbers; in June 2016, a group of climbers from England established the first rock climbing route on the peak. The route is considered to be both extremely long and technically very demanding; the climb is graded 5.13b (F8a) or harder.

A bit further to the south is the waterfall of Cascata De Praia Pesqueria, it´s located 10 min along a dirt road and of the main highway, and a place I would never found without my guide.

This is a great place for a short swim to cool down, and there´s a big chance you will be joined by some young local kids.

Cascata De Praia Pesqueria sao tome
The waterfall of Cascata De Praia Pesqueria.
sao tome local kids
Local kids steering at me while I have a swim.
sao tome swimming
Local kids were swimming just downstream from the waterfall.

A bit further down the coast is the small town of Porto Alegre; it´s the last town on the southern coast on Sao Tome, the town itself got nothing. But there´s an old rusted up tank on the western outskirts of the town.

But Praia Inhame Eco Lodge is located close by; hundreds of turtles lay their eggs on the beach here during the season, but during my visit, was there no one around.

If you do have your own vehicle, so are Praia Inhame Eco Lodge a great place to stay for the night(no public transportation here); if you’re just passing by, is it a great place to have a cold drink and food.

The lodge it´s located almost directly on a beautiful beach. This is also where you can take a small boat over to Rolas Island.

Praia Inhame Eco Lodge sao tome
The beach at Praia Inhame Eco Lodge.

The 20min boat ride across to Rolas Island will cost you 35 Euro for a return trip, the boat it´s a small fishing boat, and the ride can be rough if there are waves; we had problems coming back to shore from the waves. Get ready to get wet.

The Equator mark at Rolas island. sao tome
A local boat´s to take you across to Rolas Island.

Rolas Island is where you will cross the Equator; there´s a 20min easy uphill hike to the Equator mark, you will get off your small boat in a small local village. “Fun Fact” the Equator line actually runs through the village at not where the Equator mark is set up.

If you want to stay at Rolas Island is the 4* star resort Pestana Equator, prices start at 230 Euro a night with full board. The resort has a huge swimming pool, bar and a dive centre.

The Equator mark at Rolas island sao tome
The Equator mark at Rolas island.
sao tome equator mark
Equator mark at Rolas Island.
rolas island sao tome
The only hotel located at Rola´s Island.
Rolas Island, Sao Tome
Drone photo from Rolas Island looking back towards main island Sao Tome took with my DJI Mavic Drone.

I’m pretty sure I covered all highlights along the Southern Coast of Sao Tome in this post, every site in this post was visited on a long day trip from Sao Tome City, my guide picked me up at 6 am, and I was back at my guesthouse at 7 pm again.

sao tome,rolas,equator,africa
Sunset on the way back home to Sao Tome city.

Like It? Share It! Pin It!

Travel Guide to Road Trip down the south coast of Sao Tome a tiny country in west africa, and to cross the Equator at Rolas Island
Guide to Road Trip down the south coast of Sao Tome, a tiny country in West Africa, and to cross the Equator at Rolas Island
Travel guide to southern part of sao tome and Rolas island
Travel guide to the southern part of Sao tome and Rolas island


Monday 13th of May 2019

Hey - this sounds amazing! I am heading to Sao Tome in July and would love to do the same - could you tell me how you found your guide?

Christian L.

Monday 13th of May 2019

Hello Kelly,

Sweet Home Guest house can arrange it


Monday 1st of April 2019

Hey Christian, i was reading a book yesterday evening and besides that on TV there came up a Documentation about the 2 Islands. I was so facinated and inspired and immeditatly i started to Googled for it. Your Website came up and i realy like your executions about it. I know its not a cheat journey but do you know if there´s guesthouses or homestays available on any of your meantioned Islands? Im a Backpacker and usually im booking plans and maybe 1 oe 2 days in the capitol...then leaving everything open about traveling. For Europeans i read theres a 15 days on arival Visa right.. so nothing to do in advance?? Yellow fevervaccination is a must????

About Money changing .. is there only ATM´s in the capitol available?? About the flights from MUC its difficult to get there right? So maybe im planning to go to Portugal (Porto or Lisbo) and then get some flights to Sao Tome right??

So many questions i know.. but im seriously planning to go there in May or June for 2 weeks.. Im not on a low Budget but also dont wanna waste Money and book in advance.. So if you got some good Information for me just please let me know please. Thank you so much Chris.

Greets from Austria


Christian L.

Saturday 11th of May 2019

Hello Hubert. So sorry for the late reply.

Yellow Fever vaccination is a must! Visa on arrival is for every European Union Countries, for me as a Norwegian did I need to get a letter in advance. During my visit was there NO atm´s accepting western bankcards, this might have changed now, but to sure bring enough Euro.

São Tomé Rolas - kolmas kerta päiväntasaajalla! -

Friday 15th of February 2019

[…] hienon kuvan monumentista voit halutessasi katsoa Unusual Traveller -blogin jutusta, jossa kuva on otettu ylhäältä, ilmeisesti […]

Bucket list for 2016 – travel drafts

Friday 1st of February 2019

[…] is 50 km long and 30 km wide, Principe is 30 km wide and 6 km wide, so we can check it through a nice but short road trip.  Other than that, we believe it is a nice place to relax, lay by the beach and escape from […]


Monday 6th of August 2018

Amazing report, thank you! I am thinking of organising a similar daytrip in October... I was wondering if you found the trip to Rolas Island to be worth it... It adds some time, and I'm debating whether or not I wanna devote the extra time + hastle to see a fictional line of the Equator (not sure why the quator is a big fuss at all to be honnest0... Cheers, and thanks for a great blog!

Christian L.

Tuesday 7th of August 2018

Hello Mahme. sorry for late reply. I really enjoyed the day trip I did down to Rolas Island, I don't think it´s worth it if you only want to visit the Equator line, but the other stops along the way make the trip well worth it.