Ian Coates

Travel has always been a big part of my life and the mould was set on my first Cub Scout camp when I was 8 years old. Just 4 miles down the road, if felt like an epic journey into the unknown….and it was; with mid-night feasts, jungle treks and secret raids on islands fortresses! In my late teens, and before we all had the personal computer, I was organising trips around the UK and across Europe for groups of friends, using nothing more than a notepad and photocopier.

I grew up the great-grandson, grandson, and son of a butcher and life was pretty much mapped out before me. From the age of 14, I was working in my father’s butcher’s shop and there wasn’t much need for an education. But I always knew there was another world beyond this one and through books, magazines and Private Eye I found my escape. Throwing off the shackles of expectation I started to travel the world, initially for 6 months, then a year and then for 4 years.

The journey to Archipelago Choice has been full of challenges, danger, adventures, fun and stories to tell. I’m now married with two children and a company that at times feels like a third. Running your own business, for me, is one of life’s great pleasures. We have a fantastic team and a strong ethos to do the “right thing” by protecting the environment, creating inspiring jobs, looking after our clients and helping our friends and colleagues to prosper on their island Archipelagos.


Ian Coates
Destination Specialist and CEO
01768 721040

My favourite part of Sao Tome & Principe

Principe is everything you hope a tiny, remote island in the middle of the ocean will be. Lofty mountain peaks and staggering rock towers are carpeted in dense tropical rainforest. Almost everywhere you look around the coast there are beautiful golden sandy beaches, fringed lazily with palm trees, lapped by the warm and inviting ocean.

Wonderfully untouched, the island receives few foreign visitors and has a local population of less than 8,500 people. Since independence from the Portuguese in 1975, the islanders have mainly lead subsistence livelihoods in agriculture and fishing, taking life day by day and having little formal employment. Principeans consider themselves a different nationality to Santomeans. Their impact on the biodiversity of the island has been minimal and, when visiting, you genuinely have a sense of escape from globalisation, the digital world and the pace of western life.

UNESCO established Principe and its surrounding uninhabited islets as a Biosphere Reserve in 2012. Since then its development, including tourism, has been carefully managed under the Man and Biosphere Programme that (amongst other great things) aims to improve human livelihoods and sharing of benefits, and protect natural and managed ecosystems. The islanders are proud of their biosphere status and it’s something that unites locals and visitors. There are some amazing projects underway, and if this interests you we’ll make sure you have the opportunity to learn about these during your holiday.

We’ve chosen some truly special places for you to stay on Principe, and there is a whole host of exciting and interesting things to do. Our island experts have explored the islands extensively themselves, so have a look at our holidays ideas for inspiration and get in touch with our experts to put together your unique tailor-made holiday experience.

My favourite activity in Sao Tome & Principe

Four different species of turtle (sadly all endangered) – Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback, can be spotted coming to lay their eggs on the beaches of Sao Tome and Principe under the cover of darkness.

They start arriving on the beaches in November, and can be seen laying eggs through to February. Then, until the middle/end of March, you might be lucky enough to see hatchlings making their way to the ocean for the first time. To witness these magical moments during our turtle watching trips is an experience that will stay with you forever.

We’ve teamed up with eco guards who will take you on special evening turtle watching trips and these can be incorporated into any of our tailor-made holidays during the months of November to March. Like any wildlife watching experience, seeing turtles is not guaranteed but you can read more about what to expect, and find out how we make sure the activity is low impact and sustainable here.


My favourite accommodation in Sao Tome & Principe

Beautiful Bom Bom Island Eco Lodge has all the charm, magic and atmosphere you could dream of in your remote tropical island getaway.  

You’ll find Bom Bom nestled between palm trees at the end of a remote beach road on Principe. Its 25 rooms range from beachfront bungalows that perch on the edge of the private golden sandy beach, to more-private sea-view bungalows, pool-view bungalows with connecting doors that are ideal for families, and garden-view bungalows.

The rooms have been inspired by nature and have an elegant, organic, oceanic feel; and all have air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms, fridge and wifi.

Meals are a romantic occasion and memorable event, served in the restaurant on Bom Bom island, a short walk along a charming walkway over the turquoise sea. In the evening we love to dine on the large terrace outside, surrounded by twinkling candles with the ocean lapping beneath us. If you’re celebrating a birthday, are honeymooning or just love to get caught up in the romance, we’ll arrange a private romantic meal for you on the beach.

As well as two private beaches, there’s an outdoor pool, spa, gym and dive centre. You’re free to use the snorkelling equipment, paddle boards and kayaks while you’re staying.