Principe

Overview

Introduction

Principe is for people who really want to get away from it all. This island doesn't have much in the way of sights or activities to draw the conventional tourist. Its charm lies in its beauty and its remoteness. Unlike Sao Tome—which is basically a one-volcano island—Principe is a bubbly mishmash of small volcanic eruptions that have left behind a bizarre landscape. The tallest two volcanoes are Pico de Principe (3,100 ft/950 m) and Pico de Mencorne (3,020 ft/920 m), both located on the southern part of the island. While both can be climbed, the casual hiker will prefer Pico Papagaio (2,225 ft/680 m) which can be surmounted in a single morning. The island's capital, Santo Antonio, is a pleasant, crumbling colonial village with a number of hotels. The island also has a number of interesting plantations, including beautiful Porto Real and Belo Monte. While the abandoned Infante Dom plantation can only be reached on foot, it is worth the trip. The trail leads through jungle, past a gushing waterfall and around a small volcanic peak. The plantation building itself has almost been completely reclaimed by nature—it's covered in vines and tropical brush.

There are also several spectacular—and generally empty—beaches on the island. The nearest to Santo Antonio is Praia Abade. Others include Ponta dos Mosteiros, the scenic Praia Banana (near the Belo Monte plantation) and Praia Sao Joaquim (with eerie volcanic formations). 100 mi/160 km northeast of Sao Tome.

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