Situated approximately halfway up Mozambique’s extended coastline, Vilanculos is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination for South African and international tourists. The district’s powdery beaches, clear waters, coconut palms, temperate climate and exquisite diving meet all visions of exoticism, beauty and tranquillity.
This is also the perfect springboard into the Bazaruto Archipelago, a spectacular group of islands surrounded by some of the most beautiful coral reefs to be found anywhere in Africa. Accommodation on the archipelago’s five islands is exclusive, with limited numbers of tourists allowed to stay in this paradisiacal setting, enjoying uncrowded beaches, wonderful diving, fly fishing and blissful days on the beach.
With divesites at depths ranging from 12 to 30 metres and visibility up to 40 metres, divers will discover protected reefs teeming with dolphins, hump back whales, whale sharks, sharks, manta rays and turtles. The islands are also home to the Bazuruto National Park, which holds the last viable population of dugongs on the east African coast.
The beaches on the main coastline are just as beautiful as Bazaruto, but tourists can mix their laidback holiday experience with a healthy dose of the colourful Mozambique culture, paying a visit to street markets and quirky restaurants most renowned for serving sublime seafood and Portuguese specialities. Vilankulo, the district’s capital, is easily walkable, and tourists can explore both sides of the town, old and new. The thatch and reed structures around Vilankulo are typical of Mozambique, adding a rustic dimension to the town. For a taste of the buzzing nightlife, head to Club 360 to enjoy trademark rum and raspberries or a selection of local beers.
The Indian Ocean off the coast is renowned as one of the best Black Marlin fishing spots in the world, affording anglers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tussle with these hefty deep sea fish. Visitors are also able to take a variety of trips on traditional sailing dhows, gliding along the coast or around the Bazuruto Islands. Several outfitters offer horse riding trips along the endless stretches of white sand.
Travelling the 700 kilometres north from Maputo, the roads are tarred and in relatively good condition, but make allowances for speed limits, stops by traffic police and potholes in some areas. Although reachable by sedan, 4x4 vehicles are advisable for negotiating sandy stretches of road once in Vilanculos.
The best times to visit are from April to September, when temperatures hover between 20 to 28 degrees Celcius, the weather is dry and the area is relatively uncrowded. The rest of the year is hot and sticky, with plenty of sunshine, interupted by rain showers.