Praia de Micondó in São Tomé,  São Tomé and Príncipe by Marco Muscarà,
Praia de Micondó is not only a good swimming beach but also one of the best beaches for wildlife watching © Marco Muscarà

Past the fishing village of Ribeira Afonso (its famous São Isidro saint’s day festivities at the end of January draw many Santomeans), the second beach, Praia de Micondó (signposted) is a good swimming beach and also one of the best beaches for wildlife watching. As part of a recent ecotourism project you can stay at a lovingly restored plantation up the hill or in one of the two chalets right on the beach. To the right of the access path to the beach live massive land crabs with blue-grey bodies and fiery red legs. They make great photos, but you have to be quick as they are fairly shy, scurrying back into their holes among the coconut palms fringing the beach if they feel threatened.

Swim safely, balance on a picturesque palm trunk and try fresh coconut water at this amazing swimming beach.

A trickle of water crossing the path is a favourite haunt for kingfishers, and flocks of smaller birds take off from the bushes as you approach. See how far you can walk up the palm trunk on the beach. There’s a changing hut and also a beach bar that is sometimes open, and 5,000$ buys you a fresh coconut dawa from the kids playing on the beach.