Príncipe is the very definition of remote island paradise
Picnic on deserted beaches, explore cocoa plantations and snorkel from boats in this stunning UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Once you've spent a couple of days exploring São Tomé, it's time to take the 35 minute flight north to the smaller and even more enchanting island of Príncipe. With a population of just 8,000, Príncipe feels tiny, remote and wild. To visit here is like belonging to an exclusive travel club - not many people can say they've been and it's still a bit of a hidden gem waiting to be 'discovered'.
There are fewer settlements on Príncipe, so if it's nature and wilderness you're looking for, then you've come to the right place. In 2012 the island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and the beaches here are some of the best in the world, with fine yellow sand, gentle lapping turquoise waters and dreamy coconut palms leaning towards the sea. You can go for days without seeing another tourist outside of your resort, and quite often the only footprints on the beaches will be yours. Hidden in the rainforest are the beautiful crumbling ruins of plantations that once produced some of the world's best chocolate and coffee. Some are still in use today, and a stroll through the sprawling grounds is a great introduction to the unfamiliar fruits and herbs that you'll encounter on your plate a dinner.
If you're feeling more active take a boat trip and admire the dramatic volcanic shores, see if you can spot the looming rock spires at the Bay of Needles, and do a spot of snorkelling in secluded bays. Hiking trails through the forests will take you to plunging waterfalls, and bird watchers will love keeping a tally of all the endemic species they've seen, from the Príncipe kingfisher who is an almost constant companion, to African grey parrots which lend their name to many of the island's natural sights.
There are a number of accommodation options here, from the idyllic Bom Bom Island Resort (the beaches here are incredible) and the super-luxurious Sundy Praia (which has the most incredible bamboo restaurant), to the plantation at Roca Sundy which has been tastefully renovated and turned into an historic boutique hotel. These properties are the brainchild of South African-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Mark Shuttleworth, who has invested heavily in the rehabilitation of the island. The hotels have been sensitively designed in an environmentally conscious manner, and appeal to travellers who enjoy exploring nature as much as relaxing in luxury on tropical beaches.
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