Rolas Island: The Middle of the World
12.05.2018 - 12.05.2018
As we go for breakfast this morning, we are given a message from our agents that the rain has caused havoc with the roads, so they are going to be half an hour late picking us up this morning (Nino, the driver, and Agostinho, the guide, went back to São Tomé Town yesterday after lunch).
When we walk into the restaurant, we see two girls sleeping on futons in the bar. I can only assume that the hotel was full last night and they arrived late without a reservation.
This morning's breakfast consists of bread, home-made jam, cheese, chocolate cake, biscuits, star fruit, bananas, papaya and guava.
As it turns out, Nino and Agostinho are only about 20 minutes late, by which time we are in reception with our bags, ready to go.
The road south from here is very bad in places, with large potholes and huge chunks of the road eroded away by the rain.
After a while we turn off the main road onto an unmarked, much smaller track, as we head for the jetty.
The ferry to Rolas Island
We arrive at the jetty where the ferry is going to take us to Rolas Island in plenty of time for the boat. In fact, the boat is not even here yet. A small band of performers are waiting to greet tourists, and two young French girls also waiting.
A small, open boat arrives, and all four of us are quite sure it is the one taking us across to the island. The girls are filled with trepidation. “I have known worse, much worse”, I reassure them, “at least it is not raining”. “You travel a lot?” one of the girls asks. “This is our 140th country” we explain. She is totally dumbstruck and keeps repeating incredulously “140 countries...?”, over and over again.
When a large bus belonging to the Pestana Group (who own the hotel on the island) arrives, the musicians and singers burst into performance. This is a little too touristy for my liking.
Soon afterwards, our boat arrives, and it is bigger and with roof cover.
It seems the smaller, open boat is for staff transport.
As soon as we have all piled on board, we are off. Some people, including the two French girls we spoke to earlier, are just going to the island for the day. Most people, however, are staying for a week, we are here for two nights.
The ferry ride is quite short, and soon we can see the jetty on Rolas Island. By the time we arrive, however, we are absolutely soaked: one of the problems of sitting at the back of the boat, being drenched in sea spray.
As I said before, the whole operation is quite commercialised and touristic, and on arrival at the island we are giving a welcome drink while we wait to check in.
We watch the 'staff boat' arrive with all the luggage on board, and hope they don't drop our bags over the edge as they unload.
Our bags made it safely to dry land
Rolas island is a small islet, an ocean paradise with swaying palm tress and beautiful sandy beaches. Apart from this one hotel, there is not much else on the island.
The rooms are all spread around the large grounds, with blocks of four rooms in each wooden cottage, offering plenty of privacy.
We have a small covered balcony with a couple of lounging chairs.
Complete with our very own lizard.
The rooms are nice and big, all dark wood, with an efficient A/C unit, large wardrobe, a couple of chairs and some cosy mood lighting.
The hotel pool is said to be the largest in West Africa, and it is certainly impressive.
Several bridges connect the patios, grassy areas and the islands in the free form pool, with the two 'islands' representing the islands of São Tomé and Principe. The pool comes complete with a pool bar, with a swim up area featuring underwater bar stools.
The restaurant and bar on the hill behind the pool
This being a resort hotel, lunch is buffet style, with the usual selection.
There isn't much here outside the hotel. A path leads through the jungle-like interior to the biggest draw of the island – the Equator marker.
This small island is the nearest landmass to the point where the Equator meats the Meridian – here we are 0° south and 6° west.
Agostinho points out a blowhole and gets soaked in the process.
There is some spectacular coastline too.
The beach is deserted, and as it doesn't look overly inviting with its rocky approach and underfoot in the ocean, we opt for an afternoon in and around the pool.
Crabs on the beach
Wine for Dinner
As the afternoon draws to a close and the rain starts to come down, we grab a bottle of wine and head for the terrace of our cabin, where we stay for the duration of the evening with another bottle of wine replacing the first one. We miss dinner completely, preferring to chill with a drink and snacks, watching the rain from our balcony.
And so ends another day in São Tomé, as perfectly arranged by Undiscovered Destinations. Thanks again guys, you rock!