Africa is known for its safari adventure, impressive wildlife and vast landscapes, but it’s less known for spice islands and paradise beaches. So we thought we’d share our top beaches and islands worthy of visiting in 2021.
With a coastline stretching some 30,500 kilometres, you should expect some serious contenders when it comes to beaches.
Islands abound, particularly off the east coast in the Indian Ocean where waters are warmer and abundant with marine life and coral reefs. We also share a secret gem off the West coast, it’s a relatively unknown and hugely rewarding for those who take on the adventure to reach its golden shores.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Hard to imagine a beach bearing this name could be so alluring, but it is. Where else in the world can you see lions stalking seals along dazzling sands, towering sand dunes littered with shipwrecks for hundreds of miles in every direction? This destination blows away preconceived notions about what a beach should be.
It’s a coastline that stretches for 1,570 kilometres and here, the unexpected is a daily occurrence and civilisation is virtually non-existent. Elephants have sometimes been seen wading into the waves and there are 11 shark species patrolling the coastline. Surfers seek out the lengthy breaks and barrels while others simply crave the coastal solitude. The only footprints in the sand will be yours and those of wild creatures who call this coastal area home.
Cape Town beaches, South Africa
If you’re dreaming of a Kruger safari, it’s crazy not to have time in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. While most people choose to stay in town close to the hustle and bustle, we often like to stay at one of its beach suburbs on the outskirts so we can get that fresh sea air, sand between the toes and glorious sunrises and sunsets.
There’s so many to choose from and it all comes down to the style of beach you prefer. We’ve got a separate blog on Cape Town’s top beaches so make sure you take a look.
The Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
Just off Mozambique’s northern coastline sits the Quirimbas Archipelago. There are 32 islands dotted around the archipelago and the Quirimbas National Park, famous for its coral reefs, abundance of marine life not to mention endangered dugongs, whales and dolphins.
Ibo Island has the highest concentration of accommodation and from here you also get on boats bound for neighbouring islands. Ibo Island was an Arab trading post back in the 7th century and much later, in the 17th century it became the second most important trading hub for the Portuguese in Mozambique. A great spot to stay right on the beach is Mwani House and another old faithful favourite is Ibo Island Lodge. You can head out and explore the local village too where you’ll be warmly welcomed by friendly locals and children love to follow you. There’s a few restaurants serving up brilliant Portuguese inspired seafood dishes – truly delicious and oh so fresh!
If you’re looking for more luxury and away from the crowds, you’d best look into Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort and Azura Quilalea, both accessible by private charter or helicopter. Azura Quilalea is considered an understated ‘Robinson Crusoe’ castaway style island.
Likoma Island, Malawi
Likoma Island is a fascinating place because it sits on the north-eastern corner of Lake Malawi but in Mozambican waters. This unspoiled island is surrounded by crystal clear waters, sandy beaches and an impressive residence of cichlids, many endemic to the Likoma region. The island is tiny, just 17 square kilometres and it has one little town, Likoma. Here, you’ll be surprised to discover Central Africa’s third largest cathedral called St Peters.
You don’t come here for a long list of things to see and do. You would choose this paradise for its swimming and diving and other water based activities. Here, you can boat around the island, visit nearby Chizumulu Island and even neighbouring Mozambique. To balance out the water sports and adventure, you can explore the village, and island on foot, mountain bike or even a quad bike. The beaches are beautiful and the colonial infrastructure impressive. Stay at the dreamy Kaya Mawa where you can sail, scuba dive or simply relax in paradise.
Nosy Ankao, Madagascar
Nosy Ankao is a remote island off the north east coast of Madagascar. There’s only one property on the island called Miavana and it’s not for everybody. It’s a place for those with a taste for (and budget) luxury living, outdoor adventure and wildlife. The entire island is now protected by the custodians in a bid to see its natural habitat flourish once more. The island features forests with crowned lemurs, coral reefs abundant with marine life and endless stretches of sandy beach. There’s walking, cycling, snorkelling, diving and so much more on offer. Accommodation at Miavana is in luxury villas that are scattered along the untouched shoreline with direct access to the beach plus private plunge pools, lounge and kitchens! For more on this pure paradise read our Miavana blog.
Blue Safari, Seychelles
Rather than just one island or beach, we want to feature Blue Safari Seychelles. It’s a project with multiple island destinations at the forefront of conservation. This is a new style of lodging and experiential travel and as a guest you are actively contributing to the conservation of this pristine region. There are four remote and unspoilted atolls, a single resort on each atoll, signature activities on land and sea and conservation projects you can see for yourself. The location is remote, just how we like it. So you visit the Outer Islands of Seychelles, far away from the main island of Mahe. Here you’ll find 72 coral islands and atolls. Blue Safari manages four of the islands and atolls, each with their own character and story. These outer islands offer tropical paradise, idyllic beaches and an unparalleled biodiversity. There are turtle breeding grounds, manta and sail fish snorkelling opportunities, scuba diving, fly fishing, reef flat expeditions, ocean kayaking, bird watching and the conservation hands on experiences. Find out more here.
São Tomé and Príncipe
Somewhere remote and 130 miles off the West Coast of Africa sits two islands you’ve most likely never heard of. They are São Tomé and Príncipe.
If you don’t like long journeys to reach a sensationally remote, rewarding destination then this isn’t for you. These islands are ideal for thrill seekers, maverick travellers wanting to find hidden treasure before the tourist hordes arrive. When you finally arrive, you’ll be rewarded by sheer island beauty – azure waters lapping on golden sands, rainforests plummeting to the shoreline and hidden waterfalls luring you in for that refreshing swim.
The pace on the islands is slow and your rhythm is determined by the sunshine, sea and island serenity.
On the island of Príncipe is a true treasure founded by a South African astronaut! It’s called Sundy Praia and it’s one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. Take a look at our blog for more details on this island gem.