Barefoot Luxury in Mozambique
Azura Boutique Retreats
Built by the locals as part of a community upliftment program, Azura Retreats features remarkable island lodging while also acting as a refuge for the local community. Azura is designed to give back.
Greeted by a kaleidoscope of colour. It is remote and unique with magnificent reefs, turtle nests, migrating humpback whales, the endangered dugong, a vast array of birdlife, fascinating cultural encounters and brilliant stargazing opportunities.
We got to take part in the Azura Benguerra Island’s signature island-hopping excursion. We snorkelled a Two Mile Reef, took a tour of Pansy Island, had a beach picnic on North Point beach and enjoyed a massage. The resort’s Best of Benguerra package, includes snorkelling or diving and a picturesque horse-riding tour of the remote island. The soulful sister property, Azura Quilalea Private Island with Baobabs flamboyantly standing at its centre, offers outdoor Baobab bubble baths, turtle beach picnics and guided kayak expeditions.
Azura Retreats is involved in every aspect. Sharing my passion for seafood with the chefs, learning more about the marine life and having the community leader allow me to experience the Mozambican village life was not only educational, but also memorable. Even though all the features of a luxury holiday were present, it was the real and sincere gestures and personal touches from the locals that made the experience extraordinary.
Being transferred to a remote island by helicopter from Maputo should have been on my bucket list from the start. Watching flamingos take flight as we flew across azure Mozambican waters is probably one of those images I would have liked to capture and keep forever. But, these images have so much more impact when experienced first-hand.
Located in the Maputo Special Reserve and Marine Park, it is the rare stretch of untouched coastal wilderness that lures tourists from around the world. Here life is close to nature, with miles of uninhabited pristine coastline. It also boasts Southern Africa’s last herd of coastal elephant.
The community-owned Anvil Bay is the ideal barefoot break where you get to experience both beach and bush. Think sunrise over the ocean and sunset across pristine lakes and vast savannah; days of snorkelling and evenings around a campfire.
Our Casinha (little Mozambican home) – one of eleven – was hidden in a dune forest and stood on stilted wooden decks with its own beachfront. With Mozambique’s humid climate and high temperatures, Anvil Bay’s stylish canvas and thatch took advantage of the cool ocean breeze and the handcrafted furniture and fixtures created a special rustic, yet luxurious atmosphere.
With its outdoor lighting kept to a minimum, you’d be in awe of how wonderfully bright the stars come out at night. It also protects the turtles from disturbance in their nesting season. Anvil Bay has a very small ecological footprint and prides itself in being a responsible tourism destination.
Anantara Island Resorts
Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort, situated in the Bazaruto National Park, sets the stage for exploration, discovery and romance. It’s a journey of serenity and flavour. Here you get to feed the adventurer at heart, dine by design with a private butler and take in perfect Bazaruto vistas.
Dining at Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort is an experience of its own calibre. The chefs magically integrate Mozambique’s bold cuisine with Portuguese and Indian flavours, bringing about some of the best seafood dishes I’ve ever tasted. The resort seems to understand the trend of experiential travel and lets you experience local living in various ways.
Travelling the ocean like a local with a traditional Dhow – the preferred mode of transport for local traders and fishermen – was an experience second to none. During this sailing expedition you even stand the chance to spot some of the most rare and sought-after marine life, including five species of dolphin, humpback whales, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles and the elusive dugong.
Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort’s sister property, Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort, offers similar Dhow expeditions, with iconic whale watching experiences between July and October when the graceful humpback whales migrate through the warm, tropical waters around Medjumbe Island. The diving at this resort is spectacular, with the island being part of the Quirimbas Archipelago, a renowned underwater wonderworld.
Whether it is relaxation, spotting a dugong or a new adventure you’re after, these lodges should surely tickle your fancy.