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A luxury adventure to Mozambique

Azura Quilalea dining under the stars_preview

Words by Janine Avery

It was a whirlwind adventure arranged by Planet Travel Holidays to explore the very best luxury resorts in the remote reaches of northern Mozambique, in search for the very best resorts, undiscovered island locations and azure waters where activities like diving and kitesurfing are the name of the game, when you are not sipping cocktails, relaxing on a hammock seaside – of course.

Few people know what to expect from a holiday in Mozambique. It’s one of those far flung places that doesn’t often top the bucket list of travelers, simply because most people have never heard how fantastic it is or seen enough pictures of its turquoise waters, tiny islands and tropical landscapes. But once you have, you will soon see it’s a country well worth exploring, as was discovered on this exploratory trip along the wild and beautiful Mozambican coast line.

The history of Mozambique

Sky bar Ibo Island Lodge_preview
The Sky Bar at Ibo Lodge on the stunning Ibo Island

The country has an interesting history of exploration and trade with the Portuguese using the coastline to establish trading posts throughout the 16th century with Portugal eventually ruling the colony which was recognised as Portuguese East Africa. A struggle for liberation from this rule continued for many years with Mozambique finally gaining independence on 25 June 1975. But, unfortunately, from 1977 Mozambique was ravished by a civil war with a peace agreement only coming into affect 1992. Today Mozambique is developing rapidly and is mostly a peaceful country with an exclusive and blossoming tourism industry starting to take hold.

This history is clearly evident on Ibo Island, which was an absolute highlight in the tour of northern Mozambique. The previous capital of the region, the island is steeped in history going back many centuries. A variety of ruins dot the island, from Arabian and Portuguese rule prior to 1900, and make for a photographer’s dream come true. The accommodation options on the island, including the picturesque Ibo Lodge, showcase the rich history and culture of the island and are full of unique features like walls that are handmade using crushed coral and locally sourced lime. A place like this provides the perfect base from which to discover the old forts, crumbling colonial homes and ancient architecture of the island. You can also pay a visit to one of the island’s silversmiths and watch as they create handcrafted silver jewellery using time old traditions that are unique to this part of Mozambique. Ibo Island is also the perfect starting point for a journey to explore the Quirimbas Islands and the northern reaches of this exquisite country.

Discovering the Quirimbas Archipelago

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Azura Quilalea is one of the resorts that really stands out from the rest in this region

The Quirimbas Archipelago consists over 30 islands and a majestic system of coral reefs that are home to a vast array of marine life. The waters here are also regularly inhabited by various species of whales and dolphins. A lot of the best dive resorts in Mozambique are based off shore on these remote island locations. While operating a remote resort in the middle of nowhere can not be an easy task, a number of amazing establishments have stepped up to the task to create luxury level resorts that provide a unique and stunning experience.

Azura Quilalea is one of the resorts that really stands out from the rest in this region. Here, the experience is all about the people and personality of the hosts and the team boasts many years of diving experience and you can see that they are most at home in a remote location like this. Having this passionate team on site really makes the difference to the stay as you feel like you are being personally attended to at every step of the way. Of course, luxury beach front villa accommodation, an amazing dive centre and fantastic cuisine, really adds to the experience as well.

Another exquisite island resort, well worth a visit during a trip to the Quirimbas, is Anantara Medjumbe. As you helicopter to the island, the views over the archipelago are simply breathtaking and you would be forgiven for thinking you were flying over the Maldives. On the ground this small resort has just ten rooms which give a laidback, barefoot feeling and really make a stay here akin to going on a private, relaxing retreat.

The main attraction

Diamonds Mequfi
The secluded Diamonds Mequfi was opened just two years ago and still gives the feeling of a brand new resort with outstanding attention paid to the finer details

Back on the mainland, the northern coastline provides a pristine environment for those who really want to get away from the crowds. This area provides a haven of activities to enjoy from exquisite diving and snorkeling to kitesurfing, horseriding, kayaking and dhow sailing. The secluded Diamonds Mequfi was opened just two years ago and still gives the feeling of a brand new resort with outstanding attention paid to the finer details. The resort, set on its own stunning beach, boasts its own kitesurf school, water sports centre and horse stables. A ride along the long stretch of pristine sandy beach is without doubt one of the highlights of a stay here.

However, the main attraction of the Quirimbas Archipelago and northern Mozambique is without doubt the diving, snorkeling and amazing sealife encounters. The reefs here are an absolute haven for underwater photographers and it is a great, safe place to learn to dive. Turtles can be seen in abundance and between the months of October and April, you may be lucky enough to see these spectacular creatures nesting and hatching. However, the real highlight of this region is the spectacular dolphin and whale sightings. You can snorkel and freedive with the dolphins or migrating humpback whales without another soul around and you can even listen to the songs of the whales while underwater – a unique and magical experience that is otherworldly.