9 resorts in Mozambique that define paradise

Posted by Fatima Anter on 17 June 2014

Mozambique isn’t short on paradisiacal resorts on the warm ocean’s edge. Here are nine of our favourites, dotted along the southern coast from Ponta Mamoli to Vilankulo.

White Pearl, Ponta Mamoli

Photo by Dylan Kotze

White Pearl

Ponta Mamoli, southern Mozambique

The most valuable pearls occur spontaneously in the wild and are extremely rare. White Pearl is a testament to this. It’s an isolated spot on an untamed coast of lively indigo waters, swamp forests, coastal lakes and grasslands.

Picture clapboard villas dispersed on a small, lush hill 25 kilometres from the southernmost tip of Mozambique, overlooking a mocha deck sprinkled with bouncy white couches, a snowflake-coloured bar and bright blue swimming pool. Ivory shades dominate the light and spacious communal areas, and the fresh, beach-chic design continues in the 21 villas, a short golf-cart ride from reception.

Once you get to your villa, take a moment to wow at your outdoor shower, loungers, private plunge pool, flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, bar fridge stocked to your specifications, and glass-enveloped bedroom with views of the sea. Then your personal butler will hand you a mobile phone, programmed to summon him at the touch of a button. It comes in handy when you’ve forgotten the sunblock in your room and couldn’t be bothered to trek back along the steep walkways. He’ll also turn down your bed, refill your cookie jar (treats made daily by the chef) and give you a cart ride whenever you call.

There’s as little or as much to do as you wish: seasonal turtle tours, ocean safaris, scuba-diving (the resort has a PADI centre) or horse-riding – activities are plentiful. Alternatively, chill in a wicker bowl chair in the light-flooded day bar, admire the mirror-filled walls, and enjoy the ambient jazz tunes adding a laid-back atmosphere to your light lunch.

Dinner is a luxurious affair in the dining room where Indian Ocean-influenced veggie curry and paprika, bay leaf and garlic-marinated beef rump are just two of the delights on the menu that changes daily. Leave space for any of the desserts that include home-made ice cream (specifically the almond flavour) – they’re guaranteed to hit the spot.

Tel +27-11-026-7178, www.whitepearlresorts.com.

White Pearl, Ponta Mamoli

White Pearl, Ponta Mamoli. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Tofo Mar Hotel

Tofo, Inhambane

The handsome Tofo Mar Hotel is an upmarket alternative to the reed-and-timber accommodation options typically found on this stretch of Inhambane, and its recent refurbishment has turned it into a social hub for sundowners on the beach.

Sunglasses are required when you enter the blinding all-white reception lounge, but just 20 metres beyond the brightness is perfectly turquoise water gliding back and forth across caramel-coloured sand. A short walk upstairs (there’s no lift) leads to 13 equally bleached suites complete with DStv and air-conditioning, and decorated with colourful mats and abstract marine artworks. Mosaicked bathroom walls depict various ocean scenes and give the feeling of being underwater, which is appropriate as the hotel is run by Diversity Scuba, a local diving company.

Some rooms have balconies, and if it’s available get number nine as it has the biggest patio (if you don’t get one with a balcony, all rooms overlook a restaurant deck where white Bedouin shades and umbrellas provide shade to guests watching divers launching and fishermen bringing in their catch). If the weather’s bad (and by bad I mean 23 degrees and a drizzle), drinks and people-watching can be done in the chic bar while you admire the 20 retro lampshades cleverly framed and hung above colourful couches.

For the good weather, step into the lukewarm waters of Tofo Beach or take part in an array of activities (including diving, fishing and horse-riding) which the hotel can organise. Stroll about the hotel and buy local jewellery, souvenirs and fresh fruit and vegetables to snack on, or traipse along the shore and you could end up in the neighbouring town of Barra. Be sure to head back in time for a memorable sunset on the beachfront.

Tel +258-82-393-2545, email [email protected].

Tofu Mar Hotel, Inhambane

Tofu Mar Hotel, Inhambane. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Barra Beach Club

Barra, Inhambane

Originally the owners’ private holiday home, Barra Beach Club has been converted into an intimate boutique hotel surrounded by big lodges on a narrow stretch between a sandy beach and the tidal bay of Inhambane. There are only 12 rooms – eight doubles in the main house sandwiching the dining area and bar, three garden suites and a presidential pad. These concrete-and-thatch quarters are comfortable and cozy in earthy tones and have mod cons such as air-con, TV and your own courtyard and daybeds if you’re in one of the freestanding units.

You won’t have expansive sea views from any of the rooms (a small dune obstructs these), but a short stroll down a bamboo pathway takes you to the beach with soft sand and not a soul in sight. It’s the kind of beach that screams for long walks, but if that’s not your thing, there’s always a garden pool or go for a dip at the lunchtime pool bar, Agua de Coco. (Hot tip: skip lunch at the lodge and head to The Green Turtle, a five-minute walk away, and order the ginger, lemongrass and peanut calamari. It’s to die for.)

Crashing waves lull you to sleep and you’ll wake to the sound of a peacock wailing as if to remind you that freshly baked bread is ready at the breakfast table. After fuelling up, try mangrove kayaking, surfing, quad-biking, scuba-diving or snorkelling for seahorses (all arranged by the lodge).

You’re going to have to leave the kids behind for this stay (there’s a no-kids policy, unless it’s school holidays, when they’re most welcome) – it’s a peaceful getaway for the discerning traveller who wants to have a carefree, quiet holiday.

Tel +258-29-356-076, www.barrabeachclub.co.za.

Barra Beach Club, Inhambane

Barra Beach Club, Inhambane. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Massinga Beach Lodge

Massinga District, Inhambane

It’s the location, above a long stretch of clear, snow-like sand in the middle of who-knows-where, that makes this spot popular among couples. The lodge’s elevated vantage point above Massinga Beach provides big-picture vistas rather than near-the-wave action, and the off-the-grid setting takes you away from the busy byways.

At Massinga, lodgings are designed to cocoon guests and encourage tranquillity and intimacy. You could easily spend your day moving between bed, lounger, shower and private pool (oceanfront deluxe rooms only). These spacious, stilted, wooden suites don’t have TVs and everything’s generator-powered, so coincide your siestas with the electricity downtimes.

Instead of catching up on the latest news, admire the blue horizon from your king-sized bed, your middle-of-the-bathroom rain shower, bath and even from the toilet. You’ll be able to soak in the same spectacular scenery when you’re at the bar, in its scuba-training pool, while dining in the restaurant or as you lounge in the small library.

If you’re feeling social, head by golf cart to the beach bar and play pool, table tennis or darts, or bathe in the large round pool that looks out over the salty waters. Staff can arrange diving, fishing, picnics and snorkelling, but because of its remoteness, activities aren’t the main attraction and you shouldn’t come amped for a busy stay. Cellphone reception is intermittent, there’s no Wi-Fi and only the birds and waves break the silence.

Tel +27-11-796-5029, www.massingabeach.co.za.

Massinga Beach Lodge, Inhambane

Massinga Beach Lodge, Inhambane. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Dugong Beach Lodge

San Sebastiao Peninsula, Vilankulo

You know you’re in for a treat when guest relations officer Ernesto Mandicunda (who looks like Denzel Washington) asks, ‘Can you dance?’ instead of ‘Can you swim?’ as you board the transfer boat at Vilankulo. You arrive at the lodge 45 minutes later, and the staff greet you with a welcome dance (you’re expected to join in with moves of your own, else you won’t get good weather). And it’s their cheerful disposition that makes a stay at Dugong memorable.

As you wade through the shallow waters to the jetty stairs to have your feet rinsed and dried and a welcome cocktail placed in your hands, you’ll be amazed at how close the 14 villas are to the shore. The proximity to the tranquil water and the thatched roofs make Dugong feel like an island getaway, even though it’s on the mainland on the Sao Sebastiao Peninsula. You could drive there (it takes about five hours from the EN1 turn-off), but the boat trip is quicker and way more fun.

The main deck, with trees jutting out through the floors, is where you’ll have lunch, dinner (order the Bazaruto Archipelago lemon butter blue crayfish if it’s available) and an individual breakfast spread of yoghurt, fruit, pancakes, pastries, flapjacks and the usual egg fry-up. You could sip sundowners in the hammock or on loungers, but you’ll feel almost a part of the changing tides sitting on the edge of the threelevel infinity pool as the waters become a maze of sand and turquoise channels.

Sun-bleached wooden walkways lead to spacious, modish suites (showers are almost two square metres and the bath is in its own room) with private decks and pathways to the beach, and if you have one of the two end pads you’ll have a private plunge pool.

After endless days of snorkelling (at the lodge or the nearby islands), swimming, relaxing and fishing, you’ll find yourself a bit teary-eyed as the boat leaves and the staff bid you goodbye with more singing and dancing.

Tel +27-12-361-6303, www.legendlodges.co.za.

Dugong Beach Lodge, Vilankulo

Dugong Beach Lodge, Vilankulo. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Pomene Lodge

Pomene National Reserve, Pomene

Snuggled between the warm Indian Ocean and a mangrove estuary, this lodge’s unusual location on a sand spit within Pomene Reserve is only part of the reason you have to endure the long, bumpy 4×4 drive in. It’s the value for money that takes the cake at this laid-back lodge. You can be flashy or frugal and choose camping, basic accommodation or the standard above-water (at high tide) chalets for more comfort.

The stilted wood-and-thatch rooms are basic but adequate with queen-sized beds, fans, a small balcony and wrap-around mosquito nets. From here, you can watch peaceful flamingos, local fishermen and occasionally humpback dolphins that make their way into the estuary. Apart from using it to admire the scenery from your bed, you’re unlikely to spend much time in your room. Even though this place is remote, there’s loads to keep you busy: the activities centre, games, bar and TV area are just the beginning.

The large pool has a swing bridge you can swim under and it’s surrounded by bright red umbrellas lined up under gold-tinged palm trees. Everything happens around this pool, whether its meals, drinks at the vibey bar or a game of chess on the weathered concrete board. If you want time away from other holidaymakers, walk to the other side of the lodge where an almost untouched beach begs for footprints.

Night times on the restaurant deck are speckled with fairy lights wrapped around trees overlooking a silvery, moonlit estuary. Tuck into dinner and ask for a chocolate mousse to share (they’re big). Then head to your room for a night of total darkness as the generator takes a breather.

Tel +27-11-023-9901, www.barraresorts.com.

Pomene Lodge, Pomene

Pomene Lodge, Pomene. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Pestana Bazaruto Lodge

Bazaruto Island, Bazaruto Archipelago

Birdsong, palm trees, swathes of shocking-pink bougainvillea and a dead-still ocean (thanks to its position on the northernmost end of Bazaruto Island near a sand spit) greets you every day at this resort. Such an idyllic setting generally favours couples, but Bazaruto Lodge is great for families seeking lots of activities to keep little ones busy.

Forty A-frame, thatched chalets are spread out for privacy and each one is right next to a personal piece of the beach, complete with loungers and umbrellas. For even more seclusion opt for a back-row lodge; they don’t have direct views of the water, but there’s rarely a need for anyone to walk past and disturb you.

Rooms are simple and sufficient with air-conditioning, TVs and a patio. The outdoor shower has cold water only, so it provides a refreshing break from the hot and humid days, or you can relax in the indoor bath.

Join fellow guests for sundowners in the social bar that overlooks the sea and a large curved pool, and pull up a chair for a front-row seat to the fiery sunsets. The sound of traditional drums signals dinner is served in the large dining room where a buffet, à la carte or beach braai is offered, depending on the chef’s mood.

Do as many of the activities as possible, especially snorkelling at Coral Garden – daily! It’s enclosed, safe for accompanied kids and you can make a day of it with the provided gazebo and coolbox packed with refreshments. When the sun’s less harsh, hike over dunes to the lighthouse or walk around the island. But, as with most holidays in the five-island Bazaruto Archipelago, no stay is complete without a trip to any (or all) of other islands.

Tel +27-11-462-1714, www.pestana.com.

Pestana Bazaruto Lodge, Bazaruto Archipelago

Pestana Bazaruto Lodge, Bazaruto Archipelago. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Azura Benguerra

Benguerra Island, Bazaruto Archipelago

As if arriving by helicopter isn’t enough to make you feel like a celebrity, you’ll also be assigned your very own butler/host, who will tend to your (almost) every need. He’ll bring you a complimentary cocktail-of-the-day every evening so you never have to watch a sunset empty handed, set up your dinner table as you request and serve your meals. It may sound a bit hoity-toity, but Azura is a chilled, simply elegant boutique hotel right on the water’s edge of this small island in the Bazaruto Archipelago.

A series of seashell-laden walkways link luxury private villas to the communal lounge, bar and dining area – a social gathering point and a good place to play a game of moravarava (ask the barman how to play). All suites are ultra chic and flaunt a deck, loungers and pool just 10 relaxed strides from the sea. The one to book (at about double the standard price, though) is the six-sleeper Presidential Villa; apart from having its own bar and being totally separate from the main building, it also has a private chef. Four-sleeper Villa Amizade, on the other end of the hotel, comes a close second, minus the private chef. The rest of the thatched units sleep two in contemporary rooms stuffed with thoughtful extras such as handy hessian beach bags, eco-friendly stationery, his-and-hers outdoor showers and the slippers-andgown combo.

You’ll never really have to leave your air-conditioned room when everything you need is a phone call away – even meals can be brought to you – but don’t get too wrapped up in your sea-themed suite; take the time to enjoy the water sports on offer and vary where you eat your dinner: in the dining room, on the beach or in calm, ankle-deep seawater.

Tel +27-76-705-0599, www.azura-retreats.com.

Azura Benguerra, Bazaruto Archipelago

Azura Benguerra, Bazaruto Archipelago. Photo by Dylan Kotze

Anantara Resort & Spa

Bazaruto Island, Bazaruto Archipelago

At first glance, Anantara’s (formerly Indigo Bay Island Resort and Spa) colonial atmosphere, perfectly manicured lawns and trees arching over seemingly endless boardwalks, could be anywhere in the world because of its lush setting, unbeachy decor and textbook resort look. It’s when you get to the pool and bar area and see the calm blue waters beyond that you’ll remember you’re on the tropical island of Bazaruto.

A scarlet-tinged German guest summed it up nicely when he looked over the horizon and said: ‘Look! Light blue, bright blue, dark blue … all the blues.’ With such a gorgeous sea, you won’t want to miss out on all the water activities the resort has to offer: to start there’s scuba-diving, kayaking, waterskiing and boat trips. An outing to Paradise Island is a must for spectacular snorkelling and a finger-licking beach braai.

When the tide’s out (about 500 metres from the shore), the resort’s lunch spot, Clube Naval has a few rock and cave pools overlooking the coast, in addition to its main swimming pool. After a dip in whichever pool you choose, play a round of qolf (a cross between croquet and golf) at the on-site nine-hole course, play tennis or work out at the gym. End all this off with a treatment at the spa, which is so large it could be a guest lodge on its own.

If you book a deluxe sea-view pool villa, you’ll look out over the resort and ocean and have a private splash pool (which makes up for its distance from the sea). The seafront units, on the other hand, are just metres from the water’s edge and they’re all spacious and modern on the inside, while the outside thatch and wood is typically Mozambican.

The turndown service is worth mentioning. Although most resorts do the usual mosquito- net preparations, curtain closing and ambient lighting, Anantara goes a step further by turning the TV to face your bed, slippers at its foot and air-con and TV remotes at your bedside table, along with some or other treat to make sure you have sweet dreams.

Tel +27-11-658-0633, www.bazaruto.anantara.com.

Anantara Resort and Spa, Bazaruto Archipelago

Anantara Resort and Spa, Bazaruto Archipelago. Photo by Dylan Kotze

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