Coral Lodge is located on a lovely stretch of deserted beach.
Coral Lodge 15.41: Our full report
Coral Lodge 15.41 (the numbers indicating the lodge's Latitude and Longitude co-ordinates) is a relatively new property which opened in June 2010 on the central Mozambican coastline, just south of Nacala. With only nine villas it is small, with smart and modern touches, yet an unpretentious vibe. It sits on a lovely wild stretch of beach, and is also in easy reach of the fascinating and historical Ilha do Mozambique.
The lodge's owners have an excellent ethos on sustainable tourism and have employed around 80% of their team from the local community. Most have been trained from scratch, which is remarkable considering the high standards of service which have been achieved in little over a year. Coral Lodge 15.41 also levies US$2 per guest per night to be contributed to a community fund. The first project that has been requested by the community is to run electricity to the local clinic. The lodge will also be renovating a dilapidated local mosque with a sizeable donation that they have received.
The main areas at Coral Lodge are built on an area of coral rock and sand dunes, looking out to where the ocean meets a mangrove-filled lagoon, and beyond to Ilha do Mozambique. Most of the structures were built using Mozambican-sourced materials: the bricks were made within the region; most of the wood is Mozambican hardwood; and the high thatched roofs were made in Maputo.
A broad deck overlooking the beach at Coral Lodge is home to a good-sized circular pool and some sunloungers, and above is an open-sided dining area and bar. The structure is open plan and relatively simple, with wooden floors and a high thatched roof. Solid furniture that has been beautifully crafted from coconut wood combines with the odd piece of modern art to lend a stylish feel. In the dining area, tables are set for meal times, and there are a couple of sofas and lounge chairs as well. A traditional Mozambican fishing boat is suspended above the well-stocked bar, and antique bird baskets hang from the walls. It manages to be both eclectic and discreet, and blends together beautifully.
Wooden pathways elevated only a few inches off the sandy floor, lead to each of the nine villas at Coral Lodge, which are nicely spread out. Five sit along the beach and face the sea and the sunrise, with lovely views of passing dhows. Four look over the lagoon and mangroves with a distant view of Ilha do Mozambique. These rooms see the sunset and have a slightly more private setting.
All of the villas at Coral Lodge have a large open-plan lounge and bedroom area with a high thatched roof and beige stone-tiled floors. Each is furnished with a large four-poster bed under mosquito netting, luggage racks, a big day bed, a sofa, a table and chairs, much of it made from coconut wood from Zanzibar. There is also a long cabinet with a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and a phone for internal use. The rooms look very natural in style, yet funky light fittings add a fresh and modern touch to give a feel that is contemporary but not over the top. We especially liked the air conditioning within the bed's mosquito netting. This highly efficient system recycles cool air within your nets, which is environmentally friendly in comparison to normal air con.
A door leads to a separate bathroom, also modern in style, with a free-standing stone bath, twin sinks, a coconut-wood stand containing handy shelves and a linen laundry basket. There is also a lovely rain shower with plenty of hot water, a flush loo and hanging space for clothes. Toiletries are provided, as are thoughtful extras such as a shaving kit, toothbrush kit and cotton face pads.
In front of your villa is a wide veranda with a sunshade that can be adjusted so that you get just as much sun as you want. You, meanwhile, can relax in the comfy curved bamboo chairs or the sunloungers, fronted by a round marble table.
Two of the villas have a slightly smaller lounge area, and an additional room with twin beds; these are perfect for families with children.
The activities at Coral Lodge are enormously varied – more so than at most of the other beach lodges that we feature in Mozambique. There are your usual water-based activities such as scuba diving and windsurfing, plus snorkelling, which can be either in the lagoon in front of the lodge or on the reefs, accessed by boat. There is no coral in front of the lodge, but the mangroves and sea grass provide a nursery for fish which are large in number. You can also take a kayak out amongst the mangroves either with a member of the Coral Lodge team or by yourself. Visits to nearby islands can also be arranged, perhaps including a picnic breakfast or lunch to make a longer excursion.
A historical tour to see the oldest church in the southern hemisphere, believed to date from 1579, is fascinating. You can also pop into the Governor's holiday palace which was built in the 1700s and used during the height of Portuguese rule. A tour of Ilha do Mozambique (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is another must-do for those who are interested in history and culture, and is included in the rates for stays of longer than three nights. A guide from Coral Lodge will take guests to see the Stone Town where most of the old Portuguese buildings are, including the Governor's main palace – now a simple yet interesting museum exhibiting artefacts dating from Portuguese rule and retrieved from shipwrecks, and religious art. A visit to the fort, which was started in 1589 and took just over 60 years to build, is also worthwhile.
The nearby villages of Cabaceira Pequena and Grande Pequena make for an uncontrived visit into a Mozambican community. And during our visit to Coral Lodge in October 2011 we especially enjoyed a cooking lesson with the head chef.
Coral Lodge also has a small spa where a trained masseuse from the local community offers a variety of treatments including massages, manicures and pedicures.
Our ViewCoral Lodge has kept the recipe here fairly simple: nice rooms and a modern style mixed with some African flavour and great service. This is an excellent beach lodge and the historical angle gives it a unique twist.
Ideal length of stay: There is so much to do here that 5–7 nights, if not longer, is a great amount of time.
Directions: Coral Lodge is a two-hour drive from the nearest main airport at Nampula, then a boat ride of about 15 minutes, depending on the tide. It is also possible to charter a plane to Lumbo airstrip, which is five minutes by car then 15 minutes by boat from Coral Lodge. Nampula Airport is serviced by Kenya Airways from Nairobi on Mondays and Thursdays, and by SA Airlink from Johannesburg on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Coral Lodge prides itself on excellent food and we found it to be among the best we had in Mozambique. The chef, Carlos, is outstanding. Born in Mozambique he has had over 20 years' experience in Mozambique and Europe, and is very willing to share his skills with guests. When we visited in October 2011 we learnt how to prepare sea grass (a type of seaweed gathered from the front of the lodge), and helped prepare kingfish which we had witnessed being bought fresh that day from local fisherman.
Wherever possible the food is sourced locally. Fresh seafood is usually on the menu, as are lots of vegetables and herbs bought from Nampula's market. Most of the menus make use of seasonally available items, supplemented by produced such as salads from a vegetable garden on site.
Breakfast is served either on your veranda, or in the lodge's main restaurant or even on a nearby island as part of an excursion. Homemade cereal with yoghurt, cheeses, fresh bread, jam and muffins are on offer, as are eggs of your choice and bacon.
For lunch you can expect two set courses, with a light main course such as prawn and pineapple salad served with green leaves and dressing. Then for dessert we had homemade baobab and coconut ice-cream.
Dinner is also a set menu but with three courses. When we were at Coral Lodge we had a starter of tuna sashimi with a soy dressing on our first night and an individual tartlet with green side-salad on our second. The main courses were lobster, and then kingfish with sea grass in a tomato sauce. Desserts were cheesecake and coconut tart.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are included apart from international beers, champagne and premium imported wines and spirits.
Attitude towards children: Children under the age of 12 years are admitted only at the discretion of the lodge.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Coral Lodge for children for its laid-back atmosphere, good family villas and range of activities. However as they don't want to have too many children at the lodge at any one time, children under the age of 12 are allowed only on request – so ask us if it is possible.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Coral Lodge has WiFi in the main dining area and bar, and a laptop to lend to guests who don't have their own. Both are free of charge.
TV & radio: Next to the bar Coral Lodge has a TV room which has DSTV and a Playstation as well as a book swap. They also have movies downloaded on laptops which guests can watch.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The dive instructor and one of the onsite owners are first aid trained, and they have a first-aid box on site. The nearest good doctor and hospital are in Monapo, which is about an hour away by car.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Coral Lodge has guards day and night, with at least two on duty all the time. There are safes in every room.
Fire safety: Every structure has its own fire extinguisher and the staff are trained in how to use them.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included in the cost at Coral Lodge. Clothes are machine washed, line dried and ironed. They have a tumble drier in case of bad weather.
Money: Coral Lodge 15.41 will exchange small amounts of US dollars, euros and South African rand into meticais.