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The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list

If you and your family are waterbabies, then Africa’s magnificent lakes and sultry Indian Ocean should be on your all-time bucket list. Offering exciting destinations that are somewhat off the beaten track, the sheer diversity of both the topography and creatures of these underwater worlds has to be experienced to be believed.

I’ve rounded up four of the best bucket list ideas for those of you who, like me, are happiest in a cozzie (or bathing suit) with the lick of salt water on your skin…

The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list Intro
The Seychelles: a water sports haven with plenty of sunshine & warm water too.

#1 Swimming With Dolphins

Why do we feel an affinity with dolphins that we don’t for other sea creatures, even equally impressive underwater citizens, like rays and giant turtles? Is it because we recognise their intelligence, emotions and social bonding as akin to our own? Is it because we have a distant and ancient memory of when we, too, were sea mammals? Whatever the reason, it’s undeniable that swimming with these graceful acrobats tops belongs on top of water-loving travellers’ bucket lists. People from all walks of life who've experienced swimming with wild dolphins speak about feeling emotionally restored and a sense of deep harmony in body and mind.

How to do it? Fly into Zanzibar. Check in. Set sail from Bewjuu Beach on the south-east looking for a pod of dolphins. Find them. Stop and dive in. Have the time of your life! The 7-day Beautiful Zanzibar Beach Adventure is a good place to start. 

The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list Dolphins 2
Pods of friendly bottlenose dolphins frolic off the pristine coast of Zanzibar.

#2 Diving Perfect Visibility

Divers demand two things: as much visibility as possible and as much to see as possible (we won’t deny that warmish water may come a close third!). Both the Seychelles and the Quirimbas Archipelago off the remote northern coast of Mozambique deliver all three in abundance. 

How to do it? The 8-day Stunning Seychelles Island Escape starts off on Desroches Island, a miniscule speck in the ocean that takes 40 minutes to reach by helicopter. There are at least 18 classified dive sites here - like Big Cave, a 60m-deep tunnel - as well as masses of virgin reef to explore, making Desroches the jewel in the Seychelles’ diving crown. 

But don’t sneeze at Vamizi Island in the 6-day Quirimbas Castaway Dream. Reefs here harbour over 400 species of fish and feature dramatic drop-offs; indeed, Neptune’s Arm, a drop-off so steep and so crowded with fish that you can barely see the view, has been named one of the Top 10 dive sites in the world.

The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list Dive
For superb diving choose the Seychelles or Mozambique's Quirimbas Archipelago.

#3 Sunset Dhow Cruise

They’re the stuff of fairytales these ancient sea-faring dhows. Their distinctive silhoettes have dotted the horizon along Africa's eastern seaboard for centuries, ferrying countless merchants, sailors, fishermen and the odd pirate or two. Today, dhows – with their wide bellies and tall sails that look like the dorsal fin on a marlin – are still very much in use off the coasts of Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Mozambique. Totally eco-friendly because they rely solely on wind power and human elbow grease, boat and captain form an almost tangible bond, each responding instantly to the other’s touch and movement. A sunset cruise on a dhow is one of the most romantic things you can ever do at sea – the sun streaking the horizon vivid tangerine, a warm breeze picking up the tropical scents like vanilla and cloves from nearby islands…

How to do it? The 7-day Luxury Benguerra Island Holiday is a good place to start. A remote island tucked in the Bazaruto Archipelago off Mozambique, Benguerra is easiest to reach by helicopter. Then swap the hi-tech for the lo-fi – dhow cruises here will have you gliding over crystal-clear water as you pass beaches of golden sand that are almost totally deserted.

The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list Dhow
Unchanged in centuries, dhow sailors rely on ancient knowledge of the Indian Ocean's winds & tides.

#4 Setting Sail on a Private Yacht

A yacht is one thing; a private yacht with the crew at your beck and call on Lake Malawi is quite another. Nicknamed ‘the lake of stars’ by explorer David Livingstone because of the way fishermen’s lanterns reflected on its waters, Lake Malawi is very big, very deep and home to the world’s greatest variety of species in a single body of freshwater.

How to do it? Board the Mufasa, a 38-foot catamaran that sleeps 10, on the 9-day Malawi Bush & Beach for Families tour. The crew sets sail for Monkey Bay harbour, while you snorkel and dive at Boadzulu Island and Mzinzi Bay. When you finally float to the surface, you'll find the chef has prepared a seafood barbeque on a secluded beach just for you. Utter bliss…

The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list Yacht 1
Wile away the days aboard the Mufasa, which sails on Lake Malawi.
The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list Yacht 3
The crew does all the hard work...
The Ultimate African Water Sports Bucket list Yacht 2
... while you bliss out to the sunset.

What are you waiting for? Come dive, snorkel, sail and swim with us!

Written by Angela Aschmann. Connect with her on Google+.

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