You’ve had enough of 2021 this year already, right? Well, what if I told you that, in just a few hours, you could exchange that dreary sandwich al desko for seafood served al fresco beneath whispering palms — and enjoy sun-splashed beaches and warm tropical waters? Granted, you’ll need a negative PCR test to show you’re clear of Covid-19, but if you’ve got the right paperwork the white sands and gin-clear seas of Vilanculos are just a 90-minute Airlink flight (from Joburg) across the SA border.
And from there, the coastline of Mozambique is your proverbial oyster. North to a glorious design-led boutique escape, or across the seas for a Robinson Crusoe hideaway gone luxe? You decide, but whichever you choose you certainly won’t go wrong with these unbeatable beach boltholes.
1. andBeyond Benguerra Island
AndBeyond may be most famous for their safari lodges scattered across Africa, but they do a fine line in luxury beach escapes too. On Benguerra Island, a short and scenic heli-flip from Vilanculos airport, just a handful of secluded makuti-thatched casinhas stretch out along the shoreline, each boasting plunge pools and spacious terraces leading straight onto the beach.
Indoors, the suites are richly decorated in a style that blends understated island chic with a nod to the region’s rich history.
But it’s the tropical splendour outside that makes andBeyond Benguerra Island so worth a visit, and there’s certainly no shortage of activities to fill your days. The on-site PADI dive centre offers scuba adventures — diving is included in the rate — at nearby Two Mile reef, while daily snorkeling excursions explore shallower corals nearby. The deeper channels offshore are famous for their big-game fishing — catch-and-release, of course — or saddle up for a horse-ride through the local villages. Or, grab the chance to ride bareback and take your horse for a swim. Too adventurous? Ask the chef to pack lunch, and hop aboard a catamaran to cruise off for a castaway picnic on the beach. Nice.
2. Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort
This 44-roomed property has just the right combo of facilities, restaurants and laid-back appeal. At Anantara Bazaruto the villas stretch out through indigenous forest — listen out for bush babies at night — but the best rooms are the Beach Pool Villas, now boasting private plunge pools set just back from the sands.
With those white sands and Insta-ready blue seas you’d expect the beach to be the main drawcard of a stay here, but that’s not always the case. Bazaruto is the largest of the six islands that make up the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, a proclaimed marine park since 1971, and its inland lakes and towering sand dunes up the adventure quotient.
Tear yourself off the sun lounger for a nature drive across the island, discovering lakes home to Nile crocodiles and more than 180 species of birds. Next, saddle up for a ride through the island’s villages, or strap on a sandboard and tackle the dunes in the east. Happily, the hilltop spa will take care of any ensuing aches and pains.
When it comes to coastal charm, most resorts in the region let the glorious sea views and beachfront locale do the heavy lifting, but Sussurro adds a welcome dose of African design and creativity to the mix.
Billed as a design-led boutique hotel, Sussurro is perched on a narrow peninsula some 90km north of Vilanculos. Here, expansive private bungalows open onto large seafront verandahs, but it’s the décor and design that’ll catch your eye. The architecture takes its cue from Mozambican vernacular, and is sourced entirely from the continent. Power comes from renewable energy, and you’ll find no single-use plastics here. It’s a thread of conscious travel that runs throughout the property, from the organic food gardens and use of indigenous super-foods — think moringa and baobab — to the efforts at restoring nearby mangrove forests.
To fill your days, choose between stand-up paddle-boarding outings or yoga sessions, in between dhow safaris and weaving workshops. We’ll take it.