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.
Brilliant red flowers brighten a path on the island’s north coast.
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.
A dugout canoe made from Kapok rests on the rocky beach at Lagoa Azul.
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.
After a successful day at sea, anglers park their dugout canoes under a large palm tree on a north coast beach.
The midday sun silhouettes a lone Micondó (Baobab tree).
Arid grassland quickly transitions back to coastal forest as one moves south toward the island’s second largest town, Neves.
The western sky ripples with deepening shades of indigo as dusk settles over the islands northern grasslands.
Check out all the high-resolution photos from my trip to São Tomé in my set on Flickr.