SAO TOME and PRINCIPE: The Lagoa Azul (“blue lagoon”) is one of the most stunning places on the charming island of Sao Tome, located off the coast of Guinea.
Located about an hour’s drive from Sao Tome city, this tiny bay is known for its sparkling blue waters and pristine greenery around it.
The lagoon is part of the Obo National Park of São Tomé, but is located on the outer periphery and therefore, easily accessible by road.
There are innumerable beaches in Sao Tome, but the blue lagoon stands out. Swimming a few metres into these water waters on a bright day with blue skies, I was overcome by a surreal feeling of being surrounded by a sea of pure light blue.
There are several interesting aspects to this lagoon. A delightful thing about the lagoon is that it displays different hues at different points. The first few metres are pure blue colour, which can be attributed to their purity as it reflects the blue sky on a perfectly clear day.
The next two kilometres or so, are turquoise, which is due to the green algae underneath. The warm turquoise waters then melt into the mighty grey of the Atlantic.
This spot is immensely popular with adventurous tourists for diving and snorkelling. The meeting point of the warm turquoise waters and grey Atlantic waters is also the playground of groups of dark grey dolphins, which can see frolicking and have fun. Such tourists snorkel up to this spot to get close to these playful dolphins.
There is a lighthouse near the bay, which serves as a looking post for passing vessels and illegal fishing boats and poachers. The guards monitor round the clock to protect the marine wealth of Sao Tome in these rich breeding grounds from illegal fishing. Their vigilance from this vantage point also keeps the revellers safe.
The lighthouse was designed and built by the Marinha de Guerra Portuguesa, and is Portuguese maritime department in 1997 and is now maintained by the Ministry of Defense of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe.
It is located on top of a hillock. A short hike up the hill presented me with an astounding view of the entire bay. I could clearly see the different layers of colours in these waters. This was also a perfect spot for photography and drone shots.
From this high spot, I was incredibly lucky to witness dozens of dark grey dolphins moving languidly through the turquoise waters. As they approached the Atlantic, they seem to change gears, leaping and diving. I got the impression that they were competing with each other or engaged in a fun race.
Access to the pinnacle of the lighthouse is through a small balcony at the top of the tower. A photovoltaic solar panel is installed there to ensure that the lighthouse operates on autopilot for most of the time.
As I descended from the hillock and headed away from the beach, I found the shoreline covered with rounded boulders of vesicular basalt, what seemed like crystals of calcite. Those shiny, multicoloured and multilayered pebbles are interesting pieces of adornment or decoration in a garden.
At the far edge of the beach, there is usually a carnival type of atmosphere. Lots of Sao Tomeans and tourists hang out, looking at the local handicrafts, listening to the local calypsos and enjoying the local banana fries and roasted fish.
The blue lagoon is an authentic reflection of the enchanting islands of Sao Tome and Principe. As with the whole nation, there is nothing cosmetic about this place.