This former Portuguese colony has been called “Africa’s Eden,” as the two islands that combine this nation off the coast of Gabon are filled with lush jungle, turquoise waters, and pleasant ocean breezes. They’ve become a tropical luxury destination for many adventurous Europeans, with the Gulf of Guinea offering both clear waters and colorful marine life.

São Tomé is home to the bustling capital city of Santo Antonio, where you’ll find busy African markets and old colonial architecture. Príncipe, the smaller of the two islands with only 7,000 residents, is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where you’ll definitely want to take a boat ride past the Bais das Agulhas — or Bay of Spires. It’s a collection of eerie volcanic monoliths that has become the signature vision of the country. You’ll find others throughout the islands, too, a huge reason why visiting São Tomé and Príncipe is unlike visiting any tropical island in the world.