Azura at Quilalea: Our full report
Azura at Quilalea is the second luxury Indian Ocean Retreat from the Azura Retreats group. It is bringing Azura's trademark African-chic style to Quilalea Private Island, a private, wholly uninhabited island paradise, with just 9 handcrafted seafront villas, ensuring total privacy and exclusivity.The island is approximately 86 acres in size, and boasts 4 fabulous beaches. Snorkel the island's shores, dive the house reef that spans the main beach, picnic on remote turtle beach, kayak through mangroves or relax in a hammock beneath the giant baobabs that stand sentinel over the island.
Azura at Quilalea Private IslandNone of the Expert Africa team have yet visited Quilálea in its latest incarnation, since the refurbishments, but we understand that it has four 'Kaskazi Villas', four 'Kuzi Villas' and a separate 'Villa Quilalea' – which is billed as “the most astounding accommodation for a couple in the archipelago". Of course there's also the facility to book out the whole island!
Azura at Quilalea is very eco-sensitive, solar power and wind generated-electricity feeding eco-friendly rechargeable crystal batteries and the island's own desalination system. There's also a generator, to provided back-up, but the island's (ambitious!) aim is for all its basic functions to run without the need to switch on generators for long periods – or at night.
We're told that guests are able to control their energy consumption through a switch at their villa: they can choose an 'Eco' or a 'Luxe' setting – to change the energy consumption of their villa.
Guests can expect very high levels of comfort, and excellent food, as well as the services of a butler/host to make their stay even more personal. We understand that it is quite a 'private' place, offering a high degree of privacy and exclusivity to its guests – and we'll report on the latest from here as soon as we've visited the lodge.
Our previous experience of QuiláleaBefore Quilalea's current incarnation, several of team visited it – and we commented:
Quilalea Island covers only 34 hectares and lies at the heart of the Quirimbas National Park. It was uninhabited for millennia until Nov 2002, when Quilálea Island Resort opened nine en-suite villas, each beautifully built from wood, natural rock and traditional palm thatch. It's currently the best beach lodge in Mozambique by a very long way.
(It's perhaps worth noting here that Quilálea doesn't feel like a resort in the British sense of the word. Far from it, it feels like the tiny, exclusive tropical island that it is.)
The villas are widely spaced, each looking out over the ocean. Inside, is a king-sized bed draped with mosquito netting, and solid wooden furniture and fittings; it's high quality and stylish in its simplicity. With a sea breeze across the veranda and through large open windows, there's seldom need to use the ceiling fan or air-con. Best of all, with no fresh water on the island there are very few insects.
In the charming restaurant, or private dining hideaway, the genial chef, Nathan, prepares phenomenal food and creates a warm, friendly atmosphere. He's also a dive-master, although the fully-equipped PADI dive centre also has two full-time instructors.
Quilálea marine environment is as good as it gets; from deep coral walls ten minutes' ride by boat, to a superb home reef that's perfect for snorkelling or diving right off the beach. (New dive sites are still being discovered nearby.) Other activities include fly-fishing, canoeing, dhow trips, bird-watching, and day-trips to Ibo Island. Quilálea's not cheap, but it's worth it.
Quilálea is reached by a small flight from Pemba. Depending on the conditions, this might be by helicopter, or by plane and boat - stopping briefly on the coconut-plantation island of Quirimba.
( As you'll see from the above, although the island's correct spelling is Quilálea, it's often referred to without the accent, as simply Quilalea, or occasionally even as Quililea, or even Quililia! )
Ideal length of stay: About 5-7 nights is probably ideal - it's just not worth coming here for less than 4 nights.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Independent / Owner Run
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Honeymoons: For a truly exclusive honeymoon in Mozambique, Quilalea Island Resort is a perfect destination. A private wholly uninhabited island; with pristine beaches, magical sunsets, and special honeymoon treats, it’s as romantic as can be.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Mozambique
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Quilalea, although the lodge requests that 'guest privacy is always respected' – and hence younger children may be asked to either dine earlier, or in the villas. Obviously when a family group book out the whole island, it becomes much more relaxed.
Power supply: Generator
TV & radio: There is no TV or FM radio signal here!
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: The closest doctor would a be a flight away, in the town of Pemba. Although Mozambique is malarial – there are virtually no insects on the island of Quilálea, due to a complete absence of natural standing freshwater. So no cases malaria have been recorded as originating on the island.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is available, payable as an extra.
Accepted payment on location: The lodge accepts only Visa and Mastercard credit cards (not Amex or Diner's Club cards) - and both are processed in Mozambique Meticas, even though lodge prices are shown in US$. This effectively results in a slight surcharge, due to exchange rate conversions.