While Gorongosa is being reborn, Mozambique’s limited beach resorts continue to mature very nicely. Miles and miles of white sand beaches, warm water and amazing marine life await anyone willing to spend the time and money to get here. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it.
From Gorongosa we flew about an hour by charter plane to idyllic Benguerra Island. Flying low, the ocean reveals amazing color variations from gray and deep blue to indigo, turquoise and light green. Benguerra is one of the handful of small, lightly populated islands that make up the Bazaruto Archipelago off Mozambique’s South Central coast. Nearly every bit of its coast boasts incredible beaches and on the whole island there are only three lodges and just a few hundred residents. Can you say, “unspoiled?”
Buengurra Lodge comprises a handful of roomy, beachfront villas with large bathrooms with outdoor showers, a huge deck, private plunge pool and sala with iconic hammock. The restaurant serves delicious food and the bar can make just about any drink, even the umbrella-laden foo-foo variety. Though it was a “couple-y” feel to it, the resort caters to all types and has two new two-bedroom suites that are perfect for families. This was my personal favorite, though Azura and Marlin lodges are also great choices.
Activities at Benguerra include scuba diving, deep-sea and fly fishing, sunset dhow cruises, swimming and snorkeling. Our snorkel trip started with a visit to fish-filled Two Mile Reef, where we saw unbelievable numbers of species, and a short visit to Pansy Island, which boasts large numbers of sand dollars and shells when it emerges at low tide. In certain months, whales, sea turtles and dolphins are seen, and most rarely, the endangered dugong, also known as the sea cow and possible inspiration for the legend of the mermaid. Since the third grade when I wrote a report on the dugong’s New World cousin, the manatee, I have wanted to see them first hand. I asked several staff about a dugong expedition but was told my chances of seeing them were slim to none. Undeterred, I asked the snorkel boat captain. “You must be very lucky,” he said looking uncharacteristically pessimistic, and so I gave up hope. But leaving Pansy Island toward the hotel, the captain shouted “Dugong!” and sure enough we were treated to a five-minute show before she disappeared into deeper water.
The next day we left for the larger Bazaruto Island. We transferred there on a scenic 11-minute helicopter ride over the narrow channel separating the islands. (Flights are also available.) Though a relic pod of crocs and a small group of flamingos are said to inhabit the island’s inland lakes, the action here again is on the wide, pristine beaches and in the water.
Here, we stayed at the larger Indigo Bay Resort, with about 30 large chalets strung along the beach plus several suites set on a small hill. Two large swimming pools provide a nice place to cool off. This hotel again features scuba, snorkeling, fishing and dhow cruises. They also have great family friendly activities such as tennis, Qolf (chip and putt) and water skiing, conditions permitting. A highlight here was a visit to Indigo’s award-winning spa which offers a long list of treatments including massages, facials, wraps and manicures. Though larger and less personal than its cousins on nearby Benguerra, I liked Indigo Bay a lot.
Far too quickly, it was time to head home. A 15-minute flight took us to the mainland town of Vilanculous, where we boarded our 2+ hour Pelican Air flight to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International. The only difficulty we had was saying goodbye to paradise.