50 Shades of Turquoise in Mozambique
Mozambique exemplifies the Indian Ocean’s top destination. Colorful boutique hotels and lodges along white sandy beaches stretch into glistening bright turquoise waters. The ocean tides create their own magic. Every time you look out over the ocean, there will be a different canvas with one of the 50 shades of turquoise.
The variety of hotels and lodges range from budget filled with charm to the super luxurious, mainland as well as on private islands. There is something for every client and budget.
Upon arrival at the very relaxed and welcoming Vilanculos Airport, all clients are personally welcomed no matter to which lodge or hotel they are headed. If guests are heading into the islands, they are received in air-conditioned lounges with fresh drinks and a cozy couch to await their helicopter transfers. The luxury treatment does not end there! This is just the beginning…
My amazing 10-day trip to Mozambique was nothing like I have experienced in all my years of travelling. I don’t think I have been greeted and waved to more in my life while on vacation. The warm friendliness of the people was just as warm as the waters of their magnificent ocean.
EXPLORING THE LODGES ON THE MAIN LAND
While there are so many lodges that I visited on the mainland, all of which were lovely and definitely worth a stay, I have picked these two gems that I can recommend highly:
Vilanculos Beach Lodge is cozy, with a relaxed ambiance, very friendly vibes and happy staff all around. The reception is right next to the open beach restaurant. There is a large pool that seems to join seamlessly with the ocean where lively beach offerings any kind of water-based sports and entertainment take place.
AsDunas just 30 min up the coast from the Vilanculos Airport, is the last estate built on a red dune. With eight canvas chalets, tucked into the deep autochthonous bush, it is slightly elevated above the sea which leads to a consistent cooling breeze. Italian architect meets Italian chef, and both are loving their new home of Mozambique. For clients, this is a rather fortunate combination, as you will be delighted with impeccable style and handcrafted furniture in public spaces, spacious hidden canvas tents with their wooden decks and private pools, outstanding culinary creations, daily massages in an open therapy hut, as well as excellent service. Sandy paths lead through the labyrinth of thick bush to stairs down to the beach where private beach lounges are dug into the sandy cliff, providing the best views over the soft blue waters of the Archipelago. A productive co-operative relationship with the locals has led to an outstanding array of cultural or water sport excursions.
Another amazing new lodge is Sussurro – unique location, amazing staff, attention to detail.
At the tip end of the peninsula Nhamabue I find the little paradise around the lagoon, the six spread out chalets are hidden in the deep bush, and impress with their utter purity and luxury of quiet spaces, from the open bath to the shady terrace. Earthen colours and natural materials ooze relaxation, glad to order my baobab, ginger and pineapple smoothy per WhatsApp as I don’t intend to leave this soothing, healthy ambiance for a while and rather tend to a session of yoga in the private outside patio. What impressed me most: their lovely staff creates different private spaces for each meal, on the tip of the pier, under palm trees or on the beach with a huge bondfire, what a Feng Shui moment, sniffing the PeriPeri Chicken and fresh calamari from the BBQ. The open kitchen beams with friendly faces always happy to reveal their healthy culinary secrets to their guests, soft Maputo jazz beats hum through the warm atmosphere to complete the dream of a beach holiday in Africa.
Sussurro also shines with its unique position: the quiet lagoon in front of the lodge is ideal for long swims and all kinds of water activities, a 20 min stroll around the tip of the peninsula takes me to the endless, lonely coastline along the open ocean, breathtaking spot, not easily found anymore on this planet.
Another good news is that they are building a heli pad and transfers (at the moment a 1,5 hours road transfer – an adventure in itself) in the future can be taken by helis or best, a mixture of one way road, one way heli!
DIVING INTO THE LODGES ON THE ISLANDS OF ARCHIPELAGO
My adventure starts again in the gardens of the Vilanculos Beach Lodge as the boat to the next lodge departs from their jetty (high water) or 10 min walk into their bay (low water). We cruise for one hour through the ocean, passing Magaruque and Benguerra island, landing at Anantara Bazaruto. This is a laid back beach resort, on a very long beach, with chalets in their tropical gardens having direct beach access as well as private salas (loungers & leafy sun shade). The family villas and the SPA are set up on the hills with spectacular views towards the coast. There is a good vibe between the large (adult) pool and the kids’ water park, different pool bars and different restaurants. The quirky old main bar complete with a piano with views over the tropical resort and the soft waters, inspired Bob Dylan to write his famous song ‘Mozambique’.
Azura Benguerra is just 10 minutes away via a very impressive Heli ride to Azura Lodge where at the heli pad you will be greeted by the host and butler and introduced to the resort on a stroll through the tropical gardens. All villas offer the same outlets, just floor and pool size vary according to category. Their choice of villas provides for a very private family holiday. Space in the villa is generous with outside showers and baths as well as inside/outside private lounges, small gardens leading to private salas on the beach. The dynamic team encourages active clients to participate in the many additional activities on and around the island. The beach club entertains with al fresco lunches on the beautiful beach while for those needing total privacy, this can be provided in your villa thanks to the excellent butler service. A highlight is the private beach dinner on the last night for all clients, not only honeymooners. I enjoyed the island tour (needs to be booked) exploring the lakes, dunes and lonely beaches on the east coast meeting very happy locals living a quiet life in the small settlements at the heart of the island.
Bazaruto Archipelago National park is managed by African Parks. Apart from the protection of wildlife and marine lands, this has led to efficient and successful tourism training programmes for the local islanders. My butler at Kisawa received a scholarship to attend hotel school and is now happy to excel in a demanding hospitality job so close to his home. On a drive over the island, I learnt about the community engagement initiatives of the various lodges. Without exception, they support schools, clinics and churches for the islanders’ comfort contributing to the sustainable development of tourism and the community supporting it.
Kisawa Sanctuary, what can I say? Somebody had to volunteer to find out if Mozambique’s top luxury lodge ‘is worth it’s price’, and – YES it is!
The pure size and elegance of the chalets, their prominent positions in the deep sands or topping a dune, the sheer beauty of Kisawa’s location far out, at the southern tip of Benguerra takes a dream holiday on a beach to another level in many aspects.
Nick-named the Rockstar Lodge each chalet offers an antique record player, a brilliant sound box and a fine collection of vinyls. Each ‘Cove’ dresses in different smooth colours throughout the impressive length of the chalet, the bathtub is carved of massive rock, the lighting works simply on three ‘moods’ so no more cumbersome switch riddles, but no luxury or art can beat the effect on body and soul of the 180 degrees views over white dunes lapped by endless turquoise waters. Every time I flash myself with this view the painting has changed again. At night the dunes leading down to my poolhouse with kitchen, bar and private pool reflect under the moon as if they had been covered by pure white snow. My lovely, well educated and interesting butler seems to pick up on vibrations, as he is always there when needed and never when the biggest luxury in the world is to be alone surrounded by magic.
The estate measures 300 hectares, along the east and the south coast of the island, the easiest way to get from my Cove to the public areas is by Mini Moke; the most beautiful to walk at first light along the sheltered south-facing bay with a swim at 5 am in the luke warm water, climb the dunes and face the open Indian Ocean from the terrace of the main restaurant.
Time for a welcome treatment in the Natural Wellness Center; cozy reed huts sunk into white sand embrace the stressed traveller, Asian techniques prevail, the head therapist from Bhutan frees me of the last pains from reality out there.
General observations and USPs:
The open friendliness of the people – I think I have not been greeted and waved to more in my life in any destination – feels just as warm as the waters of their magnificent ocean.
Modern communication – lodge management and butlers communicate per WhatsApp with their clients to keep maximum discretion of privacy and service.
Marvellous food – ripe fruit and vegetables combined with freshest seafood and accompanied by a variety of homegrown nuts creates a unique quality and diversity for the lodges to pamper their clients, I might have not eaten better anywhere in the world.
Attractive activities on site – at the majority of lodges these are excluded: snorkling excursions by boat to Magaruque Island’s reef, Day Trips with lunch to Santa Carolina Island, Dhow Cruises.. additionally many lodges offer individual and unique lodges.
The Tides are magic, every time you look out over the ocean it has created a different painting in the 50 Shades of Turquoise, just one addictive factor to this wonderful country and its 2470 km of shoreline.
I have definitely fallen in LOVE and will be back.