Love beachside bungalows? Does the thought of few (or no) other travelers excite you? Lemme guess: you like friendly locals? If this combination sounds too good to be true, it’s not. I’ve got one word for you: Principe.
Located off the coast of western Africa, Principe — the sister island of Sao Tome, and uttered almost always together, as in “Saotomeandprincipe” — is covered with dense, tropical jungle; ringed by khaki-colored beaches; and surrounded by warm, turquoise water. Located in the Gulf of Guinea, this volcano-tipped island also boasts desperately few — only 20 per week! — tourists. Moreover, as the local population hovers near 6000, you’re not likely to bump into many Principe-ians, either (if you don’t want to). In other words, the island is scenic, serene, and solitary. To me: the ideal vacation destination.
According to this piece in CNN, Principe is working hard to become the latest in a long line of underdeveloped African nations that have reinvented themselves as rich, wildlife-packed, ecotourist hotspots. Featuring opportunities to scuba dive, hike protected forests, and soak up year-round sun, Principe believes it can learn from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya — a country whose high-volume, low-cost tourism led to massive exploitation of resources, both natural and human — and become the next off-the-beaten-track “must visit” for adventure-minded travelers.
Today, the capital boasts two hotels. A Dutch woman is busy transforming two other buildings into hotels, and a casino complex is in the works. If you want to be among the first to visit this still-pristine wonderland, check out the excellent piece from CNN, which provides tips on when to go, where to stay, and what to do. Way to go.