The Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique

Not many people equate Africa with tropical islands and chalk-white sands, but the East African country of Mozambique offers some eye-opening surprises for those who are chasing spectacular tropical isles.

Mozambique is indeed a country of contrasts. A former Portuguese colony, it is located on the Indian Ocean coast of Southern Africa and has an extraordinarily beautiful coastline that is over 1,000 kilometres in length.

Arab traders discovered Mozambique’s charms many hundreds of years ago, but now some westerners are starting to visit, and are discovering that mixing traditional African customs with a resort lifestyle can make for an exciting holiday.

The Bazaruto Archipelago is in the southern part of Mozambique and consists of five main islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Maraque, Banque and Santa Carolina. These islands not only form the archipelago, but are also part of a national park, which guarantees that they should maintain their charm.

Of these islands, two of them, Bazaruto and Benguerra have been the best developed to cope with tourism. This doesn’t mean they have lost their charm, but it does mean that they offer the best accommodation and recreation facilities.

As is typical with many areas of the world that have been developed for tourism, this part of the Mozambique coast has been honoured with an honorific that is supposed to aid with the area’s marketing potential. This part of the coast has been labelled as The Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and whilst the marketing gurus of many other Indian Ocean destinations may disagree, it is hard to disagree with the comparison of sparkling white pearls and the archipelago’s pristine white beaches.

One of the most popular places for visitors to get to Bazaruto is the mainland town of Vilanulos, which is called the Gateway to the Bazurato Archipelago, mainly because it has an international airport and good transport options to the islands and to other parts of Mozambique.

Vilanulos is also close to Mozambique’s only underwater national park.

Obviously, when you visit the archipelago the main attraction is aquatic activities. The snorkelling and diving is especially popular, as are dhow safaris. Dhows are the traditional sailing vessels, which can be seen sailing all over the coastal waters of the Indian ocean off Africa. You can do overnight safaris on the dhows, but when you do they tend to camp on the beach, which is romantic, but not ideal for those who like a touch of luxury.

Game fishing is also popular, especially for those who are hunting Marlin. The season runs from early October through to end of January each year. The Marlin come close in to the shallow waters around the Islands and can often be found feeding around the shoals of various species of tuna that frequent our waters during this time of the year.

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