Day 13, West Africa Cruise – Principe

Our day in Principe was perhaps the most atypical stop we’ve had, or will have, on our entire trip.

Rather than going out to visit sites or meet local people, today was devoted to rest and relaxation. G Adventures rented several cabins for the day at the Bom Bom Resort on the northern point of the island and everyone was able to swim, rest and enjoy a nice BBQ lunch.

Like in Sao Tome, we had to use zodiacs to get to shore as they didn’t have facilities for the ship to dock. However, unlike Sao Tome, we were probably 1/3 closer land this time which made the entire process much quicker.

The first thing we saw in the morning was a fisherman outside the boat showing off a giant red snapper (see above) which he caught. It was almost as large as he was. He was asking €50 for it and eventually went down to €20, but I don’t think the ship ever purchased it as we had plenty of fish on board already. Its too bad because it would have made for a great addition to the BBQ.

As with Sao Tome, Principe was like visiting an island in the Pacific or the Caribbean, only more so. The beaches and the trees seemed more unspoiled and the population was much smaller.

Once at the resort, I made a beeline for the water to take a swim. Despite all the water we’ve been in the last 2 weeks, I haven’t actually had a chance to go swimming (it is usually frowned on to swim in busy industrial ports).

While the passengers were swimming and relaxing, the crew were busy transporting everything necessary for the BBQ from the ship. This included all the food, tables, chairs, grills, beverages, silverware and plates. Everything had to be brought to the island via zodiac.

After an hour of swimming, one of the staff with a zodiac picked me up and we went for a short photo excursion up the coast. Being able to explore the island from that vantage point is a great way to see it as you get a full perspective of the island and have the option to land.

Having done this the year before, the staff member landed the boat where there was an abandoned church which must have been several hundred years old. It was actually and incredible find which reminded me of some of the temples I’ve seen in Angkor, Cambodia. Only the walls of the church were standing and trees had taken root and grown up right in the middle of the structure. This also wasn’t a tourist attraction, so it had a very Indiana Jones feel to visit it.

Further up the coast we found a local fishing village which oddly enough reminded me of some of the abandoned villages I’ve seen in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, except this one was very much alive. Children ran out to the beach to wave as we went past. We cruised past men fishing and offered them a hearty “bom dia!” from our vessel to theirs. Some men appeared to be fishing with a net and others seemed to be fishing with a speargun. I think other may have been diving for sea urchins or other mollusks as well. The funniest part was watching several families of pigs root around on the beach.

We didn’t stop at the village due to time constraints, but it was great to at least be able to see a slice of life on Principe away from the resort.

Overall, it was a pretty good day and the time on the beach was a welcome change to the schedule. Just being able to relax was a different way of enjoying the island rather than doing the usual visits.

Next Stop: Cotonou, Benin