São Tomé & Príncipe Weather - The Best Times To Visit
Learn all about the weather in this equatorial paradise
Sales Executive at Sundy Praia Lodge
14 May 2019
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Sao Tome & Principe is a place that can be visited at any time of year, and as a result the lodges typically don't have weather-related high & low seasons. This is a great thing for travellers because it means we can pick & choose the best time of year to visit Sao Tome & Principe depending on what we want to see or do.
Photographers & those interested in seeing turtles hatching might prefer to visit during the rainy season, whilst hiking is better during the drier seasons.
We caught up with Lídia Nicolau from HBD, the company behind some of our favourite Sao Tome & Principe lodges (including Bom Bom Island Resort & Sundy Praia), to put together this weather guide and to find out more about the unpredictable nature of tropical weather & to discover what it's really like out on the islands. All quotes in this article are the words of Lídia.
The seasons in São Tomé and Príncipe
The temperature in Sao Tome & Principe fluctuates very little throughout the year, hovering between about 25 - 30°C. So it's really the rain that you need to consider, and how it might affect your activity plans.
There are four seasons here, two wet and two dry.
I must say that in a tropical destination the weather is unpredictable. The main dry season, called "Gravana", is from June to September. And the short dry season "Gravanita" runs from December to April. - Lídia
June - August/September - the Main Dry Season
This season, known as the 'Gravana', is the longest period of dry weather on Sao Tome & Principe. Yet the skies are grey and cloudy rather than clear.
From June to August there’s no rain but no blue skies either.
The lack of rain means this is a perfect time to enjoy hiking in the lush rainforests, relax on the beautiful sandy beaches & take a dip in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands. This is also the hottest time of year, although the cloud cover does shield you from the intensity of the sun's rays.
The bonus of visiting around the end of August through until October are the Humpback whales, Killer Whales and dolphins which you'll be able to spot migrating along the northeastern coastlines.
August is also known for it's saints' feast days and cultural events, where streets come alive with open air food stalls, music and entertainment.
BEST TIME FOR: hiking, swimming, beaches, whales, bird watching.
October - November - the Short Wet Season
The short wet season is all about short bursts of rain
September & October are kind of a mix. November has grey skies & rain (the worst scenario), and in recent years November has been the most rainy month and not April.
Whale & dolphin watching is possible during October from the northeast shores.
However, if you’re looking to travel in November for the start of this nesting season, be warned, grey skies and rain are abundant.
BEST TIME FOR: Whale & dolphin watching, bird nesting.
December - February - the Short Dry Season
Traditionally the 'Gravanita', or short dry season, runs from January to February. Travelling to Sao Tome & Principe at this time is perfect for travellers wanting to explore Obo National Park (on Sao Tome), which is fantastic for birding, and seeing the bright breeding plumage. If you're lucky you might spot one of the endemic birds, like the Sao Tome Fiscal or Newton's Sunbird, so keep your eyes peeled.
If you’re a keen photographer, then contrary to belief you will want to experience some rain because it clears the way for brilliant blue skies, meaning months December through until May will create incredible photographic opportunities. Another bonus of travelling in the ‘wet season’ is the abundance of nesting turtles from mid-November to early February & witnessing the hatchlings making their way to the waters edge.
BEST TIME FOR: photography, turtles nesting & turtle hatching.
March - May - the Long Wet Season
This period is characterised by long spells of heavy precipitation & intense humidity.
From December to May the weather could be rainy but also has blue skies. Imagine the rain cleans the sky. Rainy season days can be a mixed bag - with a few hours of rain, which then clears the air, bringing beautiful fresh afternoons, then a cloudy evening with showers. Sometimes it only rains during afternoons.
At the moment, the dry season is lasting until April, which is actually a great month to visit as it isn't as hot as December & January, and the skies aren't cloudy and grey like in June and July. April will see some showers, followed by bright sunshine & blue skies.
BEST TIME FOR: orchid spotting.
Can't see the wood for the trees?
A little summary here:
Dec - March - Scuba Diving with best visibility.
Jan - March - Hottest months, hazy with sand being blown down from the Sahara.
Jan - Feb - Good for bird watching as the birds are showing off their mating plumage.
August - Oct - Humpback Whales.
Dec - May - Rainy so hiking is difficult on muddy terrain, & very humid, but better light for photography, bluer skies.
Mid Nov - Early Feb - Turtle Nesting & Hatching 45 days later.
Although the weather on a tropical islet is unpredictable, that is what makes the unspoiled Atlantic islands so intriguing… every month has something different to offer making it a great treasure waiting to be discovered and explored. If all this talk of rain and clouds hasn't put you off then call us now to start planning your next Far & Wild trip.