São Tomé Express (4 of 5): Costa Norte

300mm @ 1/800, f/4.5, ISO 100
300mm @ 1/800, f/4.5, ISO 100

For such a small island, São Tomé has an impressive array of micro climates. While the rainforest-covered interior and lush southeastern mangroves are typical of the equatorial biome, the north coastal region is more arid with subtropical grasslands due to the rain shadow effect of the perpetually overcast highlands.

As I explored a small portion of this scenic landscape, I was struck with a sense of awe. From pumice-strewn beaches where lowland rainforest creeps down hillsides into the ocean (above) to savanna-like plains dotted with baobab and coconut palms to beryl lagoons that glisten in the tropical sun, São Tomé’s north coast is a breathtaking respite from the hustle and bustle of life off island and a reminder that nature can still inspire us with its beauty.

Farol da Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon Lighthouse) is one of the island’s hidden gems.

5-frame HDR @ 50mm, f/4, ISO 100
5-frame HDR @ 50mm, f/4, ISO 100

Brilliant red flowers brighten a path on the island’s north coast.

105mm @ 1/60, f/8, ISO 100
105mm @ 1/60, f/8, ISO 100

Many fishermen in São Tomé still hand craft their dugout canoes from the trunks of massive Kapok trees like this one, which looms over a roadway on the northern part of the island.

5-frame HDR @ 28mm, f/4, ISO 800
5-frame HDR @ 28mm, f/4, ISO 800

A dugout canoe made from Kapok rests on the rocky beach at Lagoa Azul.

50mm @ 1/640, f/4, ISO 100
50mm @ 1/640, f/4, ISO 100

The savanna-like grassland of costa norte is a striking contrast to the highland rain forests less than 20 miles to the south, and features a remarkably different ecosystem.

5-frame HDR @ 24mm, f/8, ISO 100
5-frame HDR @ 24mm, f/8, ISO 100

After a successful day at sea, anglers park their dugout canoes under a large palm tree on a north coast beach.

5-frame HDR @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 1600
5-frame HDR @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 1600

The midday sun silhouettes a lone Micondó (Baobab tree).

5-frame HDR @ 16mm, f/8, ISO 100
5-frame HDR @ 16mm, f/8, ISO 100

Arid grassland quickly transitions back to coastal forest as one moves south toward the island’s second largest town, Neves.

300mm @ 1/250, f 4.5, ISO 100
300mm @ 1/250, f 4.5, ISO 100

The western sky ripples with deepening shades of indigo as dusk settles over the islands northern grasslands.

5-frame HDR @ 19mm, f/4, ISO 800
5-frame HDR @ 19mm, f/4, ISO 800

Check out all the high-resolution photos from my trip to São Tomé in my set on Flickr.

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