Our favourite off-the-beaten-track honeymoon destinations in Mozambique
With its remote lodges, island retreats, unspoilt archipelagos and fresh seafood, Mozambique makes a superlative honeymoon. Along its 2,470km-long coastline, there are palm-fringed, white-sand beaches, which are the perfect place to unwind after your wedding. The warm, clear waters are home to turtles, manta rays and dolphins, as well as whale sharks and humpback whales at certain times of the year.
This Southern African country is very much a standalone destination but it is also a great addition to a safari in South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania or Kenya. Whether you’re looking for a fly-and-flop or bush-and-beach escape, our Destination Experts have the inside track on where to go. Here, we have handpicked five of the most romantic spots for a honeymoon beyond your imagination:
Beyond Benguerra Island, Bazaruto Archipelago
Situated on the Bazaruto Archipelago’s second-largest island, this retreat is best suited to those who are dreaming of the utmost in luxury and tranquillity. The rooms, set back within the canopy of the casuarina pine forest, are spacious, with uninterrupted ocean views and private access to the sea. The stylish and authentic bar is one of our favourites of any island retreat, serving drinks from an old dhow on the beach.
An idyllic bay, brilliant for swimming at high tide, lies in front of the lodge and the isle is encircled by a protected marine conservation area, which harbours Africa’s only population of the rare and endangered dugong. You could easily spend your days here lazing on the powdery sand, but we can set up some fun experiences to occupy your time too, such as fishing trips (usually a winner with the groom), scuba-diving adventures with marine biologists and helicopter hops to nearby islands.
On one occasion, we organised an afternoon horse ride for a couple, surprising them with beanbags, cocktails and canapés at sunset. Later, they returned to the lodge to shower and change for a private candlelit dinner on the beach, complete with an astronomer to point out the mesmerising constellations to them.
This luxurious but unpretentious boutique hotel lies above Kingfisher Bay, near Vilanculos, on mainland Mozambique. Designed in the style of a Greek villa, it may seem a little out of place in its wild African setting, but this only adds to the appeal for many people. It has a laid-back atmosphere, a young vibe and immaculate, whitewashed suites, with neutral hues and tasteful splashes of colour. Depending on your budget, we recommend the two-bedroom Chapel, which can be booked for exclusive use. There’s also a good spa, offering treatments, herbal teas and fruit infusions.
Santorini is particularly perfect for those who are short on time, as there are direct flights from South Africa’s Kruger National Park to Vilanculos, making it a good add-on to a South African safari. It’s also suitable for those who would like to explore the neighbouring Bazaruto Archipelago, equestrians who wish to ride along the beach and keen kite-surfers, as there are several kite-surfing schools here. This unique place is also popular with gourmands, as the food is delicious and dishes are created using vegetables and herbs from the hotel’s own garden. One of our favourite things to arrange here is a private dhow cruise, on which you can stop for a beach picnic or a barbecue, where you’ll feast on local peri-peri chicken, grilled prawns and crispy calamari.
Machangulo Beach Lodge, Machangulo Peninsula
For our clients on a tighter budget who crave authenticity, Machangulo is excellent value for money. Situated at the tip of the Machangulo Peninsula, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Inhaca Island, the lodge is just an hour’s boat ride from Maputo, making it very accessible from South Africa and a good post-safari beach option. It is surrounded by three nature and two marine reserves, so wildlife enthusiasts, birders and divers will all be in their element here.
With a low-key and relaxed atmosphere, its nine ocean-facing rooms are simple and rustic but characterful and, most importantly, comfortable. There is also a spa, which does fantastic massages with a view. This is barefoot luxury at its best.
Coral Lodge, Nampula Province
We recommend this glorious hideaway to those who would like to combine sleepy seaside living with some history and culture. Located on the mainland, Coral Lodge is a short boat ride away from Ilha de Mozambique, a charming place steeped in history and lost in time. At this World Heritage Site, you will discover historic churches and alleyways lined by crumbling colonial buildings, and get a taste of local life.
The lodge’s 10 lovely villas are all wonderfully airy, but we suggest going for an ocean-facing room, so you can soak up the endless vistas. The lagoon beside the lodge is full of colourful fish, making for some exciting snorkelling, and this is also one of our favourite scuba-diving spots. There’s a top-notch dive school onsite and some interesting historic wrecks to visit. You can also head out canoeing or stand-up paddle-boarding, or whale or dolphin spotting. Humpback whales can be seen here between August and October, and bottlenose and humpback dolphins are frequently sighted between July and September.
We can design some amazing experiences from Coral Lodge, such as a romantic dinner on your private deck or an unforgettable boat trip on a traditional dhow – snorkelling along the way – to the heavenly Ilha Sete Paus, where you will be served a sumptuous picnic. In the past, we have also arranged for the head chef to accompany clients to a local market, before returning to the lodge for a private cooking lesson.
Azura Quilalea Private Island, Quirimbas Archipelago
Azura Quilalea is the only property on this secluded island, so you feel as if you have the run of the place. The nine seafront villas are spoiling yet understated and beautifully designed. Our favourite is Villa Quilalea, the ultimate honeymoon villa; perched on a clifftop, with a huge deck, an infinity plunge pool and a private swimming cove and beach (at low tide), you have your own slice of paradise. The vibe is relaxed and yet your personal butler will be discreetly on hand to bring you cocktails at any time.
Just a 10-minute helicopter flight away from Quilalea is Ibo Island, an intriguing place with a fascinating history. Here, you can explore old forts and meet local silversmiths to get under the skin of the Quirimbas Archipelago’s colonial past. Quilalea is home to enormous baobabs, mangroves and around 180 species of migrating bird, making it a good choice for nature lovers. Green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles nest here from November to February, hatching any time from January to April. It’s a snorkelling and diving nirvana, boasting 10 or more sites for experienced divers and six for open-water divers with spectacular coral gardens, where you are likely to see turtles, reef sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins, groupers and, if you’re lucky, hear the whales singing. There is even a ‘house reef’, so you can plunge in right off the beach. They also do night dives here, an exhilarating and truly memorable experience.
Azura Marlin Beach, Benguerra Island
Formerly Marlin Lodge, this hideaway has reopened its doors following its closure in 2012, when a fire destroyed much of the original hotel. The new five-star boutique property from Azura Retreats is set on a breathtaking stretch of chalk-white beach on a beautiful island in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago Marine National Park. The vibe is “light, bright and modern while reflecting Mozambique’s Portuguese heritage” and there are now 20 rooms, including a two-bedroom villa that is perfect for families. We are extremely excited about the rejuvenation of one of our favourite spots in Mozambique and cannot wait to experience this wonderful place for ourselves.