The Bazaruto Archipelago is characterised by enormous, towering dunes and endlessly shifting sandbanks. It’s a tropical wonderland – one of my favourites – of luxury lodges set on perfect palm-rimmed islands.
Situated near the mainland towns of Vilankulo and Inhassoro, the archipelago consists of six main islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise Island), Bangué and the tiny Shell.
Since 1971, much of the archipelago has been protected as Bazaruto National Park. You’ll see dozens of bird species, including fish eagles and flamingos. There are also red duikers, bushbucks and, especially on Benguerra Island, Nile crocodile.
Dolphins swim through the clear waters, along with 2,000 fish species, as well as loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles. Most intriguing are the elusive dugongs, which visitors have the chance of spotting. It makes sense then that these clear, turquoise waters offer excellent snorkelling, and, for those who want to venture deeper, scuba diving.
There are several, well-spaced-out luxury Mozambican lodges that offer various other watersports too, including windsurfing, kayaking and water-skiing. A visit to the coast would be incomplete without an iconic sunset dhow cruise, while having a picnic on a shrinking sandbar is a thrilling way to pass the day. There’s also the opportunity to go helicopter sightseeing over the archipelago, or to explore the islands on horseback.
Whatever you choose to do on the islands, you can do in complete comfort and style. The lodges are comfortable and fully equipped, with rim-flow pools, elegant décor and delicious food (often plucked straight from the waters of the archipelago). In fact, it’s the whole ‘barefoot luxury’ thing done perfectly. In my opinion a luxury Bazaruto and Benguerra escape is perfect if you’re looking for a quintessential Indian Ocean island holiday.