Sundy Praia sits on the wild northwestern tip of Príncipe, a volcanic island formed 31 million years ago in the present-day Gulf of Guinea, some 140 miles off the west coast of Africa. Together with the bigger island of São Tomé, it’s Africa’s second-smallest country—though it makes up for its diminutive size with staggering biodiversity. Thick jungle covering steep-sided mountains teem with an abundance of endemic species, earning the isolated island the nickname of “Africa’s Galápagos.”
Located less than 10 miles from the lodge, the tiny port of Santo Antonio is the world’s smallest city, by some estimates, but big on colonial charm.
Picture-perfect beaches fringe the emerald isle, including a stretch of sand framed by the soaring skyline of the Bay of Spires, where primordial phonolite towers are known as the Father, the Son, and the Grandson.
In 2012, UNESCO designated the entire island of Príncipe a World Biosphere Reserve. Around two dozen endemic bird species flit among the branches of the island’s lush rain forest. In the summer, humpback whales congregate off the northern shore. Príncipe is also a significant site for sea turtle nesting.
Settled by the Portuguese in the late 15th century, entangled in the slave trade in the 17th century, and granted independence in 1975, these tiny islands harbor a dark history. Today only a few thousand residents live on Príncipe—centered around the capital of Santo Antonio and a few pretty fishing villages along the coast—and most are descended from mainland Africans and Europeans. Since the country’s independence, the island’s cocoa and coffee plantations have largely returned to the forest. Portuguese remains the primary language.
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