The islands off Mozambique’s eastern and northern coastline host a collection of high-end resorts Emma Thomson picks three of Mozambique’s most idyllic island getaways.
Historic oasis: Ibo Island Lodge, Quirimbas Archipelago
Formerly a Portuguese slave port, Ibo – the largest island in the Quirimbas Archipelago and a 25-minute light aircraft flight from Pemba – is famed for its crumbling colonial homes and grand eighteenth-century fort that have been nominated for World Heritage Status. The privately owned Ibo Lodge is a boutique 4-star with 14 individually styled historical, sea- and garden-view rooms featuring four-poster beds and antiques. Everything was built with the help of the islanders and the owners maintain strong links with the community – they built a thriving, free Montessori pre-school for the local children and support the talented silversmiths. In addition to a full range of watersports and tours of the historic quarters, guests can also try unusual experiences such as visiting a local witchdoctor, sampling a traditional white Musiro mud mask and setting sail on a dhow island-hopping safari.
Villas range from US$590 per night www.iboisland.com
Private island fantasy: Anantara Medjumbe, Quirimbas Archipelago
A comma of white sand surrounded by azure waters, Medjumbe fulfils everyone’s idea of a tropical island escape. Set inside the Quirimbas National Park in the north, it can be reached only by private plane and is home to just 12 5-star beach-chic cabanas. Each is furnished with a four-poster bed, bath and outdoor shower (all with sea views), a personal saltwater plunge pool on your private deck and a hammock to swing in while the sun sets. Thoughtful extras include an in-room gym basket with a yoga mat and the inclusive mini bar. The warm fish-rich sea is ideal for first-rate diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing, and you can also take the speedboat out to Quissanga – a seashell-sprinkled, uninhabited island – for lunch. The à la carte menus are inventive and unfailingly delicious, with fresh seafood bought daily from the local fishermen.
Beach cabanas range from US$1180 per night www.medjumbe.anantara.com
Activities galore: Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa, Bazaruto Island
Ensconced in a sheltered bay 30km east of the mainland, Anantara Bazaruto has 44, 5-star, beach, sea view and pool villas scattered among the lush swathe of palms and monkey orange trees that fringe the island. Reached via a 40-minute boat ride, or a 15-minute light aircraft flight from Vilanculos, the resort prides itself on going the extra mile: from the scented hand towel and fresh-fruit cocktail handed to you on arrival, to quirky extras such as a ‘croissant butler’ at breakfast, a ‘salt guru’ at dinner to advise on the best accompaniment for your steak or fish, and a ‘slumber guru’ to help you pick the perfect pillow. There’s also plenty to keep active travellers occupied: visit the local village, horse-ride along the beach, sand board down the island’s interior dunes, dive the pristine Two Mile Reef (where there’s a chance of seeing dugongs) or sail to neighbouring Paradise Island for a beach barbeque. But if all that sounds too frenetic, book a treatment at the hilltop spa that offers a range of massages, facials, scrubs and wraps and whose Jacuzzi has epic ocean views.
Villas range from US$936 per night http://bazaruto.anantara.com/
Found Travel’s (www.found.travel) Mozambique Route Planner is a great tool for finding the best places to stay in the region.