By far the larger of the two main islands, São Tomé lies ‘at the centre of the world’, being the closest landmass to the imaginary crossing point of the Greenwich Meridian and the Equator, which may be crossed on tiny Rolas Islet off São Tomé’s southern tip.
The nation’s lively capital, São Tomé town, displays gently ageing and newly renovated Portuguese colonial buildings, many ranged along its extensive seafront promenade. Given São Tomé’s diminutive size, the diversity of landscapes is astonishing: the northern savannah with its baobab trees; the interior with its old plantations, fresh air, good farmland and pretty wooden houses on stilts, moving up to the primary rainforest hiding orioles, paradise flycatchers and weavers; the south revealing fishing villages, coconut palms and tranquil mangroves waiting to be explored by boat, looking out for kingfishers, herons and monkeys. Birding expeditions explore the primary rainforest, where you can enjoy swims at hidden waterfalls. The country’s many species of marine turtle are honoured with a room in the capital’s National Museum and a museum on the northern coast, and now enjoy much more protection leading to ever-increasing numbers visiting the beaches of São Tomé to lay eggs.