Where the Green is even Greener
If the Island of São Tomé is always described as a green one, what can we say about Príncipe? You cannot find a green that is Greener. It is an untouched Island, almost virgin, with few inhabitants and has dreaming beaches. To travel to the archipelago without visiting Príncipe is a sin.
How to Reach
There are only two ways to reach the Island of Príncipe. The fastest (50 minutes) and expensive is by plane. The other way is by ship, but although being cheapest is much slower (about eight hours) and without a regular schedule. In fact, we are talking about ships for goods transportation that make available some seats for passengers. Usually the connections are made two or three times a week, but the real schedule is not known because they don’t exist.
How to Move
There aren’t several possibilities walk is the most probable. As supposed, the Island doesn’t have more than 30 automobiles; the reason why to rent one is out of any expectation. One possibility is to be booked at the Bom Bom Island Resort and enrols in the organized excursions. A part from that, in terms of public transports there is a bus with the capa-city for 30 passengers. It departs from the Municipal Market and travel through the roads that are fit for traffic. The ship, in the other hand, can be a solution to visit the Island: or to make recourse to the fishermen services or a safest way and more expensive, it also possible to be booked in the nautical centre of Bom Bom Island Resort. They will carry you to where you want.
It seams as if that the autonomous Island of Príncipe had stopped in time. It is an absolute quietness distributed in 19km by 15km and is in the north that there is some life. The only existing road is a tarred highway of 12 kilometres length that connects the airport to the city of Santo Antonio, the Islet of Bom Bom and the plantation Sundy. The remaining are rails of beaten earth or of earth badly beaten. But those who arrived by low-powered aircraft have a surprising eyesight from the air that provides them an idea of what they are going to discover. And as they approach the runway, they can see the bungalows of Bom Bom, the small houses of the city and the velvety turquoise colour of the sea close to the coast.
Bom Bom Island Resort
In spite of one or other visitor who is lodged in a guest house of the city, the majority of the tourists prefer the Bom Bom Island Resort. And you can understand the reason of that choice: nothing better than be in a balcony of a bungalow few steps – from the sea and with a swimming pool behind, having the possibility to socialize in a bar very well decorated with a refined meal in a restaurant beneath over the sea. The distribution of the resort is a discovery The large wood bungalows are in the north tip of the Island of Príncipe aligning along the two almost parallel beaches, and only the bar, the restaurant and the harbour are in the Islet of Bom Bom. Linking them there is a suspended wood bridge, with about 150 metres over the undulation of the Atlantic.
Cidade de Santo António do Príncipe
If the total population of Príncipe Island is about 6 thousand inhabitants, one has the idea of the importance of the capital and the only city Santo Antonio do Príncipe, has one thousand and five hundred inhabi-tants. According to these numbers we are in a locality that was given the status of the smallest city of the world. It is very easy to walk through it as well as it is also very easy to fall in love with it. The centre is named square Marcelo da Veiga and around it there are the most important buildings of the city: the Old Church, the ancient house of the Governor and several ruined houses that invite us to guess the beautiful frontages they had. There are the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao, four or fiver streets, a marginal, the river Papagaio, the Municipal Market and… nothing else. In front you can find the forest. Santo Antonio is very calm, without hurry and without schedules. It is worthwhile, even only for that reason, but it is also important to walk through the streets and appreciate the smallest sign of noise in the market.
It is in the north of the Island that we can find the most famous plantation of Príncipe. And it is understood the reason of that big famous besides the usual compartments of the important plantations (the house of the administrator, the houses of the workers, the hospital, a church, the warehouses, the houses of the foremen), the Sundy restored the majority of the spaces. The main house, particularly, is an isolated case, because it is in the same state it was left by its last Portuguese owner: the paintings, the furniture and faience are the same of the other times, happening the same with the wood ceilings and the floor in wall-tiles, the leaving room, the dining room, the marquise, the bedrooms and the veranda of the second floor, with privileged eyesight to the sea. And everything was duly repaired. It is by that reason that when the president of the Republic of São Tomé visits the Island he chooses it as the official residence. But it is outside of the house that there is the most surprising element: the stable compartments that remind a stone castle with towers and crenels. The horses, in that era, were a possession very much appreciated. The northeast edge is the largest treasures of Príncipe. It is not only because of the plantation Belo Monte, a beautiful example that makes the difference by its marvellous localization in the heights, from which we have a rare landscape but it is above all what is in its foothill: the Banana Beach the most beautiful of São Tomé-e-Príncipe.
Roça Belo Monte
The northeast edge is the largest treasures of Príncipe. It is not only because of the plantation Belo Monte, a beautiful example that makes the difference by its marvellous localization in the heights, from which we have a rare landscape but it is above all what is in its foothill: the Banana Beach the most beautiful of São Tomé-e-Príncipe.
The Belo Monte Plantation surprises with its structure of a small castle, which seems to be part of an old-fashioned amusement park. The rehabilitation works at the backyard of the Belo Monte Plantation and at the beautiful Master’s house have already begun, and will include a “Museum of Natural History of Principe” and a restaurant overlooking the paradisebananabeach.
It is the best “picture” of the archipelago. In a bend of the coast that reminds a banana, is a smooth golden sandy that is sheltered an infinity of coconut trees and palm trees inclined, that seems as if they are bending in a courtesy gesture to this marvellous art of nature. The sea, warm and of a translucent blue draws the final lines to the excellency.
And it is not by chance that Bacardi chose this scenario to record its best advertising campaign spot. Dreams exist.
The Príncipe southern region reminds a separate world. It is the most isolated area, more far away and in the oldest fashion one can imagine, in spite of the smallness of the Island. The only access to the south countryside is by jeep (to be requested in Bom Bom Island Resort) and, even that it is not easy because of the bad condition of such roads. Usually, the limit is given by the plantation Sao Joaquim, that is in advanced state of decay and whose population still produces the Palm oil. But what call your attention are the surrounding scenarios as if they were magic: in an orderly queue, you find aligned the most impressive peaks of the Island Mountain Pai, Mountain Filho, Peak Fanado, Peak Mesa, Barriga Branca, Brito Barriga, Monte Papagaio and Fundão. The exception is the highest point of the Island (the Peak of Príncipe, 948 metres high), that is far from there.
The majority of the area that can be visited is summarized but to know and understand the nature of Príncipe it is necessary to go further and it is only possible by ship. Starting from the resort of Bom Bom, and making tacks always along the coast, you can unveil the beaches Seabra, Campanha, Burra, Macaco, Banana, to see the city of Santo Antonio and its large cove.
Here you can start seeing the silhouette of the most emblematic Islet of Príncipe, the Bone of Joquei, and you enter the rudest and wild area that is only reachable by ship. To the end, you can find the most idyllic landscape of the Island: the indescribable Baia das Agulhas it is time to turn the engine off to contemplate in silence.