by KITTY ALDEN
In the swells of the Gulf of Guinea, just off the coast of West Africa, is the tiny island of Príncipe. A speck in the grand scheme of the ocean, it is only as big as 136 square kilometres. But even though this island is modest in size, it is a fertile and flourishing piece of land. Not many know of this small isolated island, but those who do, are wise to its incredible biodiversity, despite its dimensions.
Upon arrival, one becomes acutely aware of why this island is often referred to as ‘Africa’s Galápagos’ Príncipe is a universe in itself, boasting such an array of exclusive species from native Orchids to a myriad of butterflies and beetles. The island is alive, coast to coast it sings songs of thriving nature. The squawking and chirping of the tropical birds that nest in the trees makes one feel as if they are living in the pages of a Kipling novel. The jungles are deep, rich and dense; erupting with the zest of tropical delight.
WHERE TO STAY: BOM BOM
Although Príncipe is a small island, there are many luxury resorts that house guests, treating them to a true West-African experience. Bom Bom Island Resort is a little getaway with 19 tropical bungalows that are placed in the most beautiful spots on the North Coast of the Island.
IMAGE COURTESY OF FAR AND WILD TRAVEL
This resort treasures and celebrates the island culture, through their African-inspired food, and their relaxed way of living this resort will truly whisk you away into a blur of utter relaxation.
There are some incredible stretches of beach that flank this island, running parallel to the deep jungles.
IMAGE COURTESY OF BOM BOM ISLAND RESORT
“The humming of birds and the smells of Hibiscus paired with the soft washings of the surf make this place pure heaven”
IMAGE COURTESY OF UNUSUAL TRAVELER
The grand Pico do Príncipe is the tallest peak on the island, standing at about 947m it is quite the sight in comparison to the size of the island itself. This mountain is made up of the remains of a volcano that once governed the island, bringing a sense of pre-historic legend to the landscape.
Banana beach is the ideal spot to take in the breath-taking views of the ocean. This clear and calming coastal curve could not be more perfect for lazy afternoons. Wander down after a lunch at idyllic hotel, Roça Belo Monte, with novel in hand and settle onto the sand for some light reading. Once the West-African sun has bronzed the limbs, cool off in the shallows and with a snorkel take off for an explore.
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES
The southern part of the island, is mountainous and where the jungle really thickens, covering every last inch of land in glorious green fauna. This southern expanse is a dedicated conservation zone, designed to protect the numerous species that inhabit it. Príncipe is a biodiversity hotspot, and its protection will ensure that this stays a sacred space to conduct crucial environmental research. So many sub-species have developed on this island, each of which are key contributors to a healthy eco-system, allowing the island as a whole to flourish.
THE WONDER OF WHALES
IMAGE COURTESY OF OCEAN FRIENDLY TOURS
The gentle waters that swell between Príncipe and its neighbouring island São Tomé are abundant with marine life, most notably the pods of whales that gather in the surrounding seas. Arriving in November, Humpback Whales and their calves are often sighted in groups off the coast of these tropical utopias. Researchers believe that due to the large numbers of whales and their young, that this part of the ocean serves as the perfect ‘nursery’ for calves who aren’t yet strong enough to venture into rougher waters. Island visitors can sail out to sea and observe these magnificent creatures in the wild, a true adventure.
So, this summer, venture out to Príncipe and revel its tropical simplicity. It is a paradise island that has so much to yet be discovered, and well worth an explore.