Less well known than some of its oceanic neighbours off the east coast of Africa, Mozambique is a destination on the up, and it certainly has a natural beauty, deserted tropical islands, sweeping white sand beaches and marine life to rival the likes of Seychelles, Mauritius and the Maldives.
The coastal capital of Maputo is in the south of the country and is easily reached on flights from Johannesburg, making it simple to combine a safari elsewhere in Africa, such as Botswana or Namibia, with a Mozambique beach escape. It's a particularly convenient add-on to safari in Kruger National Park and other Eastern Cape Reserves.
Maputo itself is the most developed part of the country; the faded colonial, Mediterranean-style building provides a glimpse into the past of the country, which gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
The Machangulo Peninsula is a short-speed boat ride (or a more adventurous 4x4 transfer) east across Maputo Bay and has several low-key boutique beach lodges. Don’t expect over-the-top luxury here; instead, relax in authentic, barefoot-chic lodges sitting on pristine bays surrounded by wilderness. Depending on the lodge there are numerous activities on offer, from riding fat bikes on the beach, stand-up paddle boarding, forest walks in the Maputo Special Reserve, or an ocean safari looking out for whales, dolphins and turtles.
A little further north and a direct flight (either from Johannesburg in around two hours or straight from the Kruger in just over an hour) is the small town of the beach town of Vilankulos. This acts as the branching-off point for the stunning Bazaruto Archipelago, just a few kilometres across the turquoise ocean. Five dune islands are strung out along the coast, surrounded by a marine national park, making this one of the best places for divers or snorkellers of any level. Hidden here are just a handful of luxury lodges, sheltered by wild fruit trees hiding twittering monkeys, colourful coucals and slaloming lizards.
In the far north of the country, in the Cabo Delgado Province, 2,500 km away from Maputo, are the dazzling Quirimbas Islands. There are a handful of lodges on the 32 islands, which stretch for 200km; however, tourism and development here is still fairly low-key. For those willing to venture this far north, rare dugongs, endless palm-fringed beaches and a diverse, historic culture await, but for those looking to link with a quality South Africa or Botswana safari, the quality might be more consistently found in the Bazaruto Archipelago.