Spending time on Africa’s beaches, seas and islands is for me the ideal counterpoint to a more terrestrial African safari. It’s the perfect way to unwind, and there’s a lot more to it than loungers and cocktails.
Without even getting your feet wet (unless of course you want to, and who wouldn’t?) you can follow in my paddle strokes and kayak through the mangrove forests of the Quirimbas Archipelago or set sail for the setting sun on a traditional dhow. Okay, there might be a cocktail involved at this point.
When life moves on island time, it’s immensely refreshing. In some places, of course, it seems as though it’s completely stopped: if it weren’t for the thriving seal colonies of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, the lonely shipwrecks might seem rather sad!
If you want a true desert-island experience, there’s nothing like playing castaway on an idyllic sandbar to get away from it all. I, for one, love knowing that I’m not alone on a deserted beach: no, not a tourist in sight, but turtle tracks in the Maputaland sand leading to a nesting site – let’s follow them.
Or we can head the other way, take the plunge and scuba dive the busy, colourful world of Africa’s reefs. The eastern coast has a long string of magical corals; we can start in Zanzibar in Tanzania before moving south to the Quirimbas Archipelago. Further south still and we can dive the waters of magical Maputaland, and see the myriad life they contain.
If you prefer, we can go snorkelling; I can never get enough of the warm, clear, azure waters of Mozambique.
If you’re keen for large marine life, we could also go swimming with dolphin in Zanzibar, or take a boat trip to look for South Africa’s Marine Big Five (from penguin to great white, or from toddling to toothsome!). Or we could see if we can find the elusive dugong of Bazaruto.
If you want a bit of everything, why not go island hopping on a dhow, sailing between isolates isles to run up dunes and comb beaches with salt-tangled hair. Across the water: the whole of mainland Africa awaits!