Mozambique is a big country, with hundreds of islands scattered along its coast...
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Quirimbas ArchipelagoThe most spectacular jewels in Mozambique's marine crown rest in its Cabo Delgado Province, in the far north. The Quirimbas Archipelago (or 'Ilhas Quirimbas' as they're known in Portuguese) are a beautiful string of islands, often fringed by gorgeous beaches, which lie about 2,500km from Maputo. This is an isolated and remote area, it's probably the last stretch of East African coastline where the marine environments and beaches are ecologically pristine and largely unexplored.
Lying just offshore and stretching for 200km, the Quirimbas Archipelago consists of 12 major islands; about 20 smaller, coralline outcrops; and endless sand-bar beaches . As a safeguard for the future, The Quirimbas National Park protects a large part of the archipelago's southern side.
Development here is still in its infancy; the beach lodges (they're all smaller than what we'd normally think of as 'beach resorts') are all fairly new, and many of their staff are being trained up on the job. So if you want slick, first-world service and precise attention to detail - then these might not be for you. (Better look towards Zanzibar or the Bazaruto Archipelago, in Mozambique's south, both of which have had years of practice with visitors!)
Islands and beach lodges in the Quirimbas ArchipelagoIf you like the idea of visiting an almost pioneering area, with lodges on often pristine islands, where you're one of the first visitors, then read on...
Quilálea IslandThe most established luxury island lodge in the Quirimbas Archipelago, and certainly the most consistent, the small, luxury lodge on Quilalea and has set the pace in terms of quality. Quilalea is a coral island with a handful of small, secluded, sandy beach coves. The lodge has nine en-suite villas are beautiful and, protected with the national park, its surrounding reefs are superb for snorkelling and diving. (Read more about Quilalea Lodge...)
Vamizi IslandIn the far north of the Quirimbas Archipelago, Vamizi Island is probably the most stunning island in the archipelago. It is long, thin and lined by two lovely golden beaches, with amazing snorkeling and diving close to the shore. It is one of the as archipelago's most remote island lodges, and with just 12 vast, luxury beach villas – it aims to be Mozambique's best beach lodge. (Read more about Vamizi Lodge...)
Matemo Island ResortRun by Rani Resorts (the company that owns Indigo Bay Lodge, in Mozambique's southerly Bazaruto Archipelago), Matemo Island Resort and Medjumbe Private Island are sister-properties. Both are a relatively short flight from Pemba, and Matemo is the larger island by far – with a village on one side of it. Matemo Island Resort itself has 24 modern chalets, all built in a line along a lovely golden beach. These are very well appointed, and almost glitzy in their facilities – with hotel-like creature-comforts which can suit some families with children. (Read more about Matemo... )
Medjumbe Private IslandMedjumbe is the slightly smaller, smarter sister-lodge of Matemo Island Resort, and is also run by Rani Resorts. Medjumbe is one of the smallest islands in use in the Quiribas Archipelago: it is just 800m long by 350m wide and is little more than a large sand bar surrounded by beach! Here the small beach lodge is has just 13 thatched chalets. (Read more about Medjumbe... )
Ibo Island and Ibo Island LodgeWithin the Quirimbas National Park, close to the mainland, Ibo Island is unlike any other island here. From the 1500s, Ibo was a prosperous trading post. It's had a turbulent history, but now its streets stand quiet with just a few people going about their ordinary business. The fading colonial buildings remain: some crumbling, others lived in, and a couple being restored. There's a large church and three forts.
Wander around one and you'll see where the slaves were kept, find cannons on the battlements, and watch local artisans painstakingly make silver filigree jewellery to sell. It's been nominated to be a 'World Heritage Site' and is a fascinating place to visit.
Whilst on the island stay at the stunnning Ibo Island Lodge. (Read more about Ibo Island Lodge... )
How to get to the Quirimbas Archipelago
Zoom out from our satellite map of the Quirimbas Archipelago, and you'll realise why the Quirimbas Archipelago is most easily reached from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Approaching from the south is usually more expensive and time-consuming, and it can involves flying via Maputo and other towns.
Currently Air Mozambique flies between Dar and Pemba daily. Other airlines are promising new routes the future, including a direct flight between Dar and the archipelago.