Situated 300km north of Inhambane is the city of Vilanculos, also known as the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago. The Bazaruto Archipelago is a group of five islands situated off the coast of Vilanculos, namely: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. The Bazaruto Archipelago is easily one of the most beautiful island destinations on the African continent.In colonial times, Vilanculos was a destination for the rich and famous, but nowadays the Bazaruto Archipelago holds this status. Vilanculos, however, has something to suit all traveler types.
Where to stay
Casa Rex is located outside of Vilanculos city centre, on top of a high dune overlooking the port. There are premium rooms available which are suitable for families, and courtyard suits which offer a large terrace and a private dressing area. All rooms at Casa Rex offer sea views. There is also a salt water swimming pool ideal for cooling down on a hot day. The on property restaurant is known to be one of the best restaurants in Vilanculos town and outside visitors are regular.
More about Casa Rex here.
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Golden Sands is a new self catering accommodation option in Vilanculos, offering chalets and apartments overlooking the Bazaruto Archipelago. Golden Sands organises kitesurfing, dhow trips and other activities on site, and also features a freshwater swimming pool. Accommodation comprises of two apartments and two rounded chalets. Each unit is air-conditioned and are en-suite with spacious open plan living areas. Golden Sands is self-catering, but offers a special grocery pre-stocking service by a chef on request.
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For a full list of accommodation options in the Vilanculos and Bazaruto Archipelago area, check our accommodation index.
Things to Do
For the Kitesurf Challengers
Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago have recently been discovered by kite surfers, and it is fast gaining a reputation as an ideal destination. The Bazaruto Archipelago offers a wide variety of kiting experiences from shallow sheltered bays for the novice to amazing down winders for the more experienced. The fluctuating tides, calm and uncrowded waters and occasional 20 knot winds offer great kiting. The winds in the winter months tend to be South to South Easterlies and anything from 12 to 30 knots. In the summer months North Easterlies are more predominate. We recommend kite sizes of about 10m to 13m. A full range of IKO certified courses are available.
For the Dive Adventurers
For the scuba diving enthusiast, the diving here is world class. The islands offer superb scuba diving, with pristine reefs and an amazing variety of flora and fauna. If you choose to stay in Vilanculos, then double tank dives are the norm. In between dives you will have the chance to explore the amazing and surreal landscapes the islands have to offer. The islands are protected as a conservation area and a National Park which includes the coral reefs surrounding the islands. The archipelago is an official marine reserve that hosts a dugong population, which is supposed to be one of the last and largest of its kind on the east African coast.
For the Honeymoon Dreamers
Setting out on life’s greatest journey together is an exciting moment, and there is no better location to do so than on a tropical island. The Bazaruto Archipelago has many beautiful accommodations options, with the majority of them being ideal destinations for a romantic getaway or honeymoon. Most of the lodges on the Archipelago are exclusive and personal, ensuring that your honeymoon is a memorable one.
For the Colourful Mixtures
Spectacular sunrises overlooking the islands are what you wake up to in Vilanculos, and day visits to the Bazaruto Archipelago can be arranged, by motor boat or traditional sailing dhow. Traditional sailing dhows are still a common means of transport amongst the islands, and are a highly recommended romantic experience.Other activities on offer in Vilanculos and on the Bazaruto Archipelago include sand boarding, kite surfing, fishing, horse riding, city tours, bird watching tours, sunset cruises, village walks and dhow tours.
Did You Know?
The Bazaruto Archipelago is the largest marine reserve in the Indian Ocean and for very good reasons too:
- The reserve has over 2 000 fish species
- Over 100 hard and 27 soft coral species can be found
- Over four whale and five dolphin species are found here
- Bazaruto has the largest remaining population of dugong in East Africa, raising the profile of the area to a global marine conservation priority
- Nile crocodiles can still be seen in the shallow lakes and pools on the islands