Mozambique is blessed with almost 2,500km of Indian Ocean coastline extending up the east coast of Africa from South Africa in the south to Tanzania in the north. The 2 main areas of interest to tourists are the Bazaruto Islands off the coast of Vilanculos and the Quirimbas Archipelago off the coast of Pemba in the north. These sandy and coral islands are the perfect ending to a safari in Southern Africa and are perfect for families and honeymooners alike. Deep sea fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving are some of the best in the world.
Who should come to Mozambique? Anyone looking for a tropical island with miles of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters teeming with marine life. Scuba divers and fishermen will love Mozambique with some incredible offshore reefs teeming with marine life and some of the best deep-sea fishing in Africa.
What is there to do in Mozambique? Depends on where you stay, but you have options for scuba diving and snorkelling, island visits, dhow trips, boating trips, sea-kayaking and village visits. On Bazaruto Island there is the option to go horse riding along the beach.
How do I get to Mozambique? Getting to Mozambique is fairly straightforward from South Africa with daily flights to both Vilanculos and Pemba from Johannesburg. From Nelspruit, there are flights direct to Vilanculos on certain days of the week. There are regular flights from Dar es Salaam and Nairobi to Pemba making the northern part of Mozambique accessible after your East African safari.
Where to stay in Mozambique? There are a handful of Mozambique beach lodges that we love and are listed below.
Azura Benguerra Island
Azura Benguerra Lodge is located on Benguerra Island which is one of the Bazaruto Archipelago off the coast of Vilanculos. Each of the 20 villas has its own little garden and plunge pool and is within steps of the sandy beach and azure ocean beyond meaning guests are guaranteed the utmost of privacy from the moment they arrive. Although the island is not private, Azura Benguerra is far enough away from any other lodge or the village, that the beach feels very private. A couple hundred meters up the beach, Azura have built the perfect beach bar, restaurant and chill area with a pool, cushions on the beach and a pizza over. Guests of Azura Benguerra have access to the Peri-Peri Beach Club and can spend the day chilling there.
The bungalows are traditional thatch beach bungalows with the all the luxury comforts you could need. The main area has a main pool, restaurant, bar and Scuba diving center. Activities available include village and island tours, dhow trips, boat trips to some of the other islands, snorkelling, kayaking, SUP, Scuba Diving and horse riding along the beach.
The only access to Azura Benguerra is by a 15-minute helicopter flight direct from the international airport in Vilanculos.
Why we love Azura Benguerra:
Traditional thatched beach bungalows meters away from the beach
Fantastic fresh food
Lots of activities on offer
Lots of options for different bungalow prices
Barefoot Luxury at its finest
Conservation efforts: Azura have always had the best interest of the local communities at the forefront of what they do. They have local stakeholders and only employed and trained local communities to help build the lodges. Environmental impact has been taken into account and before the lodge was built they had an environmental and community specialist assess the area to ensure there was minimal impact. They have setup the Rainbow Fund which is the first registered charity of its kind in Mozambique and assist with social and environmental projects. These have included the building of a school and community clinic on Benguerra Island.
Azura Quilalea is located on a private island in the Quirimbas Archipelago in the northern part of Mozambique. The island is a coral island with secluded coves and beaches and some of the best diving in Mozambique because of the low tourist numbers in the area. Each of the 9 beach front villas on the island have been designed with its own character and are made from coral and with thatched roofs. 5 of the villas have their own private plunge pool ensuring the utmost privacy.
Food is served in a number of areas around the island, including under the large baobab trees or on your own private deck. The main area has a pool, bar and plenty areas to relax in whilst enjoying the view of the turquoise ocean. There is plenty to do on Azura Quilalea including scuba diving right off the beach, snorkeling, sea kayaking through the mangroves, boat trips, deep sea fishing, dhow cruises, whale and dolphin watching and visits to the nearby Ibo Island which is full of history.
Why we love Azura Quilalea:
Barefoot luxury at its best
Traditional coral bungalow designs
Fantastic diving and snorkeling straight from the beach
Small, intimate lodge
Conservation efforts: Azura Quilalea is the sister lodge to Azura Benguerra and share the same conservation and community philosophy. At Azura Quilalea the Rainbow fund has been instrumental in helping protect the coral reefs around the island and to monitor turtle nests. They also supply a privately run clinic on one of the neighboring islands and have built a school for the local communities on the islands.
Perched on a cliff overlooking the bay out towards the Bazaruto Islands, the villas of Santorini have a prominent position to take it all in. Situated outside Vilanculos and only 20 minutes’ drive away from the international airport. There are 3 stunning villas all designed to resemble a Greek village and are the utmost in luxury. 2 of the villas are for exclusive use, but the main villa has 5 rooms which are sold on an individual basis. The 2 private villas are very private and have their own lounge, dining, kitchen and pool. The main villa has its own lounge, pool and dining area and can also be taken on exclusive use if there are enough people on the group or family.
Guests staying at Santorini have access to SUP, kayaking, sailing, fishing, visits to the village of Vilanculos and boat excursions to the Bazaruto Islands with a picnic lunch on the sand banks. Snorkelling and diving are done further afield from the villas and require a boat excursion to take you to the best spots.
Food is served in the respective villas and it is all as fresh as can be, including vegetables and herds straight from their own garden.
Why we love Santorini:
Villas are so comfortable you do not want to leave them
Private villas for families or honeymooners
Wide range of activities
Villas have lots of relaxing areas with great views of the ocean
Conservation efforts: TBC
Ibo Island Dhow Safari
One of our favorites in Mozambique, the Ibo Island Dhow Safari is not necessarily an accommodation option, but we love this so much, we want to add it here. The dhow safaris are based from Ibo Island Lodge which is the start and end of the trip. Ibo Island itself is rich in history and is a laid-back island vibe. The Dhow safari is completely tailored to the individual, but guests set off (with a team) from Ibo Island and sail through the Quirimbas Archipelago exploring islands and mangroves, buying fresh fish from local fishermen and snorkeling on coral reefs far from any other lodges. Accommodation is basic tents setup on the beach with the fresh fish cooked on the open fire and served under the stars with the sea lapping not far from your feet.
During the sailing guests can help the captain or can sit back, relax and take it all in. You have the opportunity to stop and snorkel when you want and there are sea kayaks on board if you want to explore at a slower pace. This is the ultimate adventure island hopping.
Why we love the Ibo Island Dhow Safari:
Fantastic way to explore the Quirimbas Islands
Camping on deserted beaches
Traditional Dhow sailing
Snorkelling on remote reefs
Fresh seafood cooked on the open fire
Mix of luxury (at Ibo Island Lodge) and rustic camping (on the islands)
Conservation efforts: Ibo Island was and still is one of the few lodges in the area, thus creating employment to local staff through working at the lodge, but also as guides around the island. The dhow safari is an environmentally friendly way of exploring the islands.