The official language is Portuguese, with a local tongue called Principense, but you can get by pretty well with English or French.

Getting a Visa

You have to get a tourist visa to travel to São Tomé and Príncipe. The cost is 20 euro per person. There are several ways to request the visa:

1. If you have an embassy in your country, then you must apply for it prior to arrival.

2. If there’s no embassy in your country, then you need to try either a direct request or use a travel agent. For the direct request, the application needs to be completed 14 days prior to arrival in order to secure your visa. You will need to go online to smf.st and click on “eVisaST.” Fill out the online form and follow the instructions for stages 1 through 4. E-mail a color copy of your passport (the expiration date must be no more than one year away) and a copy of the hotel booking. On arrival, you will need to present your return ticket and pay the visa fee of 20 euro per person. Within 72 hours, you will receive a code by e-mail that you will need to give to immigration upon arrival. Without this code, you will be refused entry into the country. If you use a local travel agency in Príncipe, it will charge a fee for the service. You can use either Tropic Venture (andre.reis@tropicventure.st) or Mistral Voyages (fatima.mistral@cstome.net).

Things You Need to Know

When traveling to Bom Bom, it’s best to bring euros with you. U.S. dollars are accepted, but it’s easier to deal with the euro. You get hit up at the airport for 20 euro for your visa on arrival and another 20 euro as a departure tax, and no, they don’t take American Express.

The official language is Portuguese, with a local tongue called Principense, but you can get by pretty well with English or French.

You’ll need to get some anti-malarial medication — be sure to take it! I know firsthand about West African malaria, and believe me, you don’t want anything to do with it. You also will need an International Certification of Vaccination for Yellow Fever. The islands are pretty close to the equator, so it’s hot. The rainy season is split between the spring, from March through May, and the fall, from October through November. The dry season is during the summer, from July through August, and this is also the peak trade-wind time.

Anglers from the United States or from Australia and New Zealand should travel to South Africa as a jumping-off point. Avoid Nigeria; from my personal experience, the place is a nightmare.

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