There’s remote. And then there’s São Tomé and Príncipe.
A twin island nation that affords visitors the luxury to escape from the everyday and revel in a sense of privacy that has all but vanished elsewhere. But first you must find it on a map. The volcanic country is located on the equator some 130 miles off the west coast of Africa, and to get there you have to fly via Lisbon, the previously-uninhabited archipelago was colonised by the Portuguese back in the 15th century. Think rainforests so lush it’s a surprise a paint company hasn’t named one of its greens after the place. And picture beaches with only you on them where you can plan that novel you always meant to write; something with “lost” in the title.
Here tourism is still in its infancy, so while things might be a little unpolished at times, service comes with a from-the-heart smile. Once your small plane has flown past cloud shrouded sugar loaf mountains, over tumbling jungle, parked up on the runway, and you’ve been greeted by a wall of warmth and an ice-cold drink, everything seems right with the world. South African entrepreneur and astronaut Mark Shuttleworth must have smiled as he looked down on these small islands as he passed overhead in 2002, high above the atmosphere. When he came back down to earth he invested millions of dollars in Príncipe through his Here Be Dragons fund, and the result has been the development of a few boutique properties and the supporting infrastructure that goes with them. It is the perfect model of high-end sustainable tourism.
Sundy Praia is the newest of the three lodges. Sister to larger Bom Bom Island Resort, it is intimate and astonishingly upmarket for such a remote destination with well-appointed tented villas, each with the forest at their back and a glorious sea frontage. Deserving of its 5-star status, the food is equally incredible – seasonal, tropical and proudly African with a Portuguese twist. It is easy to cocoon yourself in a place so laid back it lends itself to doing nothing, but out and about there are plantations to explore and chocolate to be made (some of the world’s finest originates here) as well as wonderful interactive cooking workshops to take part in. The entire place is a UNESCO biosphere, so you can snorkel, take a boat along the coast to search for dolphins and whales or hike deep into the national park as endemic tropical birds chatter in the trees.
To find out more about the experience please get in touch with our expert team.