The Bazaruto Archipelago is a group of islands off the coast of Vilanculos in Mozambique.
Beach on Magaruque Island, Bazaruto Archipelago
The Bazaruto Archipelago consists of five idyllic islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. The Archipelago is truly one of the most beautiful destinations on the African continent. The area is now protected as a conservation area and national park, including the coral reefs surrounding the islands, making it the only official marine reserve in the country. The park is one of the largest in the Indian Ocean and a crucial achievement in global marine conservation. A nearly untouched paradise on earth, the archipelago has earned its reputation as the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean'.
Vilanculos and Inhassoro are the gateways to the islands. It is best to fly in either from Maputo, Inhambane, or Johannesburg. Alternatively, you can also take road transfers with tour operators from Maputo if the European ban on LAM applies to you. Note that flying is generally cheaper than road transfers unless you have four or more people. Buses from Maputo, unfortunately, don't leave the highway so if you do take a bus be prepared to search for other transportation into the village.
Day trips by dhow or "Motorboat" can easily be arranged from the mainland by one of the operators listed below. If staying at one of the island resort contact them for a possible pickup in Vilanculos, and if coming to scuba dive or snorkel then you'll come on day trip using the fast dive boats.
If you're lucky enough to be staying at one of the deluxe resorts on the islands, a direct seaplane flight from Maputo or light twin-engined plane from Gorongosa Nature reserve on regular weekly flights can be reserved.
Between the islands boats are the only option, on the islands walking is the way to go for boat hire contact your resort or check with www.divebazaruto.com.
Sand dunes are found throughout the Archipelago and tidal flats and inland saline lakes support a wide variety of seabird species. Coral reefs are also home to thousands of fish and coral species and marine mammal species. The largest dugong population along the eastern African coast can also be found here.
Mile after mile of deserted sandy beaches also grace the island. The leeward side of the island chain is surrounded by calm turquoise waters while the windward side offers an even more isolated and untamed seashore with waves constantly pounding the coastline.
- Vilankulo Ruins. The ruins outside of Vilankulo are not very known but definitely worth a visit. They are not inside the village, but outside close to the main highway heading to Inchope. Tour operators can help visitors explore these ruins on their way to, or from, Vilankulo. edit
- Scuba diving – The archipelago's coral reefs and clear waters offer some of the best diving in the world, dive sites are uncrowded and marine life is varied and abundant. With sites at a depth of 12 to 30m and visibility up to 40m, you will discover protected reefs teeming with dolphin, humpback whales, whale sharks, sharks, manta and spotted eagle rays, green and turtles.
- Dhow Safari – Experience the wonder of a traditional sailing dhow gliding through the Bazaruto Archipelago. The islands of Benguerra, Bazaruto, Magaruque and Santa Carolina are complete with azure waters, sandy beaches, palm trees and pristine coral reefs.
- Dive Bazaruto, ☎ +258 848506507 ([email protected]), . PADI Dive Resort center regular departures to Bazaruto and San Sebastian reefs and snorkeling areas phone contact for all your activities during your stay in Vilanculos. edit
- Game fishing – The area surrounding is ranked as the best Black Marlin destination in the Eastern Indian Ocean. The season runs from early October through to end of January each year. The Marlin come close into the shallow waters around the Islands and can often be found feeding around the shoals of various species of tuna that frequent our waters during this time of the year. The Bazaruto Archipelago area also offers saltwater fly fishing for the sought-after bonefish.
- Mozambique Horse Safari, ☎ +258 827639249 ([email protected]), . Specializes in custom-made horse safaris and day rides on Benguerra Island. Enjoy long stretches of untouched white sand beaches and magnificent views overlooking the islands. The area is suitable for riders of all levels of ability. Contact Pat or Lucy. edit
- Sailaway Dhow Safaris, ☎ +258 823876350 ([email protected]), . Contact David for fully catered day or overnight dhow sailing safaris departing from Vilanculos. edit
- Yacht Regal, ☎ +258 825314424 ([email protected]). Sailing catamaran offers day trips and liveaboard itineraries. edit
Unless you're staying at one of the resorts you'll likely have to pack a lunch from Vilanculos. If taking a dhow trip they will usually have chefs onboard that prepare delicious meals, from salads to calamari.
Some of the resorts serve alcohol in their restaurants.
- Archipelago Resort, Chibuene, Vilanculos, ☎ +263 912 565 264 ([email protected]). On site bar and restaurant: the bar is renowned for its exotic cocktails, and the restaurant specialises in Portuguese cuisine and seafood (Prawns, crab & Lobster). edit
While offering an exquisite paradise, travelers may find accommodation on the islands prohibitively expensive, particularly with the closure of “Gabrielle’s”, the last reasonably priced accommodation, to make way for yet another luxury lodge. Fortunately, the government is monitoring the development of the islands, and are allowing 'eco-friendly lodges', not massive hotels. If you can't afford these, Vilanculos offers a plethora of affordable places to sleep.
- Pestana Bazaruto Lodge, Bazaruto Island, tel: +258 21 305 000, [email protected], . Rooms from $188/night.
- Chibububo Lodge (1 metre), Airport South Beach, ☎ +27 8276 77366 ([email protected]), . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 10:00. self catering 8 bed chalets, Indonesian style built on 2 metre platform Sea view, on the beach. Swimming pool, bar & Restaurant. $120 - $350. edit
- Rani Resorts Indigo Bay, Bazaruto Island, tel: +27 (0)11 467 1277, [email protected], . $132-1150/night unit.
- Beach Chalets (3m), South Beach Vilanculos, ☎ +27 333302792 Mobile +27 827677366 ([email protected]), . checkin: 12am; checkout: 10am. "Whatever your preference is, Beach Chalets has something to suit your requirements, from clean camping sites, self catering chalets to luxury private cabanas and villas on secluded beaches." US$30 to US$60 per person sharing selfcatering 8bed unit US$100. edit
- Archipelago Resort, [email protected] (Chibuene, Vilanculos), ☎ +263 912 565 264, . Indonesian Casas Scuba Diving (PADI Registered) Deep Sea Fishing Child friendly beach Changing sea colours of the Deep Water Channel Very close to the Bazaruto Archipelago, Which includes Bazaruto, Benguerra, Margaruque, Santa Carolina, Bangue. Bar & Restaurant on site: Portuguese cuisine Seafood Delights Prawns, Crab & Lobster $150-300/night. edit
Sunburn can be a real risk on the islands, especially if on a day trip. Make use of the shade if you can find it during your lunch break, and bring a high SPF sunscreen.
- Vilanculos - is pretty much your only direct option.
- Inhassoro - Another beach town just to the north
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