Every now and then, there is the opportunity to drop off the map and find yourself in the almost photo-shopped perfection of a desert island in a turquoise sea.
The Quirimbas and Bazaruto archipelagos off the coast of Mozambique provide just such a treat. A scattering of coral atolls, pure white sand spits curving along rich reefs, bright fish and gentle warm waves.
There are no big resorts, just small lodges where you can discard your watch, spend the day barefoot in a pair of shorts and little else, and let the natural cycle of sunshine and starlight dictate your activities. Some of these islands require a little bit of effort to get to... but then again, the best things often do.
If you love private island getaways, turquoise seas and pure white sands, Mozambique offers some of the world’s finest beach holidays.
The marine life is colourful, plentiful and varied, so this is the ideal spot for warm water diving – or taking the plunge for the first time.
The wildlife areas are wild and off the beaten track but are gradually opening up to visitors. For an authentic safari experience, there are still many beautiful and pristine parts of the country to discover.
After the damage and economic collapse sustained during the prolonged war, the country's infrastructure is still relatively undeveloped, although a great deal of investment is pouring in and the changes are noticeable. The roads are improving, towns are becoming more happening and popular tourist spots are springing up. Happily though, the country offers plenty of remote wilderness for those that crave an escape.
The remote Quirimbas Archipelago off the far northern coast of Mozambique has an unearthly beauty unmatched by anywhere else in Africa. More accessible, but still lovely, is the Bazaruto Archipelago, easily reached from Johannesburg. If you like a bit of culture with your beach escape, then Ibo Island is the place to go. For a wild safari experience in a little visited area, then Gorongosa National Park or the Niassa Reserve offer plenty of wildlife and excellent wilderness.
discard your watch, spend the day barefoot in a pair of shorts and little else, and let the natural cycle of sunshine and starlight dictate your activities”
If Quirimbas were to appear in the dictionary, it would do so along side words such as pristine, remote, unexplored and relaxed. Those things that are increasingly hard to find in our world.
Being at the far northern extreme of Mozambique, this collection of thirty-odd islands and coral heads is understandably less developed than its southern counterpart, Bazaruto. Small beach lodges are dotted around the islands which you reach by small plane from the town of Pemba on the mainland.
Quirimbas can be just as easily reached from Tanzania as from Mozambique or South Africa but it is off the beaten track and ideal if you really want to escape. Some islands are easier than others to get to. The flight itself affords incredible aerial views of the endless beaches and clear seas so it’s hardly time wasted.
The Indian Ocean here is fabulously warm and rich in marine life, with plentiful manta rays and whale sharks, schools of dolphins and loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. It is also home to about 200 dugongs, Africa's last sustainable population of the big grey mammals thought to have given rise to the myth of the mermaid.”
One day we paddled kayaks along a beautiful silent estuary, water so clear that it felt as if transparent film had been stretched between the mangroves to encase the tropical fish lazily gliding beneath. Another morning, the sea turned red: the region's healthy coral was spawning, a sight that much of the world no longer witnesses.”
The Bazaruto Archipelago
The Bazaruto Archipelago lies not far off the mainland at Vilanculos in the southerly part of Mozambique.
Known for the high quality of marine life, empty beaches and crystal seas, the islands make a good destination if you are looking to relax but also for the more active.
Between Bazaruto and Benguerra Islands, there are a good range of accommodation options to suit the rustic-loving hermits and those with families who would like a bit more in the way of amenity.
Aside from the long beach walks, sea swims and gently baking with a book under a palm tree, there are a variety of watersports on offer from fishing to diving and boat trips to explore the two uninhabited islands of Santa Carolina and Santa Isobel.
The feel here is very much laid back, easy freedom with high standards of service and options to get busy if you are so inclined.
AMAZING MARINE LIFE & EMPTY, PRISTINE BEACHES
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GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK
DIVERSE SCENERY & A MULTITUDE OF WILDLIFE
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PRISTINE, REMOTE & UN-EXPLORED
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CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS & OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
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WHITE SAND, BLUE SEA AND INCREDIBLE DIVING
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Getting around Mozambique
Remote island escapes off the Mozambique coast
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It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.
All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.