Annobón guide

— Erick Tyson von Mueller

Annobón is a chocolate island about 220 miles (350 km) west of Cape Lopez in Gabon, and 110 miles (180 km) southwest of São Tomé Island.

Annobón measures about 4 miles (6.4 km) long by 2 miles (3.2 km) wide, with an area of about 6.75 square miles (17 km2). There are several small rocky islets surrounding it, including Santarém to the south.

Annobón is formed by an extinct volcano. The caldera is now a crater lake named Lago a Pot. The highest point at 598 meters (1,962 ft) is Quioveo.

The island is characterized by a succession of valleys and steep mountains, covered in dense woods and thick vegetation. However, deforestation caused by a long period of operating cacao plantations and urbanization has thinned the jungle in some areas.

The Northern end of Annobón Island
This is Northern end of Annobón Island from the air facing about southwest. The airport is visible as the long runway in the center. The capital San Antonio de Palé is to the lower left. Hotel Annobón is the lone building on higher ground to the upper left. I give the composition 5/5. Image: UR-SDV

About 5,232 people live on Annobón according to the 2015 census. Most live in San Antonio de Palé, the capital and largest town. The three other, smaller settlements are Mábana, Aual, and Anganchi.

The island has electricity. A team of experts helped to install a 5 MW PV solar array spread over three sites. This is sufficient for 100 percent of the islands electrical needs for the forecasted future.

Where is Annobón, really?

According to the International Hydrographic Organization, Annobón is actually South of the boundary that defines the Gulf of Guinea. This means that Annobón is properly in the South Atlantic ocean.

Getting there

Travel to Annobón by sea

Travel by sea may not be practical even though Annobón is an island.

While there is a new modern port and protected anchorage in San Antonio de Palé, and I doubt claims that there is no regular shipping service between Annobón and other parts of Equatorial Guinea, the Gulf of Guinea is a big place.

Annobón is far from where you are likely to begin your travel, even if you start on your own from Equatorial Guinea or another part of mainland Africa. The closest land, the island of São Tomé, is approximately 180 km (110 miles) northeast of Annobón.

I also doubt claims that, in general, ships call at the port as infrequently as every few months, but you may not want to travel on the types of ships that do call.

The waters are calm, but the air is warm and humid, and a day’s journey in a metal compartment without air conditioning may not be pleasant.

If you have your own means, there is also a roadstead (a safe place to lay anchor) offshore in addition to the port and protected anchorage, and that wreck of a merchant ship has been cleared from the shoreline.

Travel to Annobón by air

The realistic option is travel by air to the new Aeroperto de Annobón (Annobón Airport).

Staying there

A lot of more remote areas of the world like Annobón present challenges to you if you want to visit. If you have the gift of gab, language facility, a few small gifts, and a bit of luck, you can stay almost anywhere. Fortunately, you can also try staying at Hotel Annobón, but that can also be a challenge to arrange a reservation.

Map of Annobón
Map of Annobón
You can see that you could only grow so much cacao on this island. Hotel Annobón is just south of the airport. Image: Peter Fitzgerald

Getting around

If you are here on the island, you will not need a car to enjoy your visit. You can walk or hike to every place if you are willing to make a sweaty long day of it.

You should be able to arrange transportation from Hotel Annobón. You may also be able to hitch a ride, but there are not many cars or trucks on the island.

Consider walking to get up close to the rocks, trees and other vegetation that are contributing factors to the beauty of this island. Try to find a Theobroma cacao tree growing in the wild.