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What is it about islands? We associate them with buried treasure, footprint-free beaches, swaying palm trees, lapping waves and carefree days wiled away under a life-giving sun. Most of us will never be lucky enough to own a private island and have a piece of paradise all to ourselves, but there are places in this world where our dreams and fantasies about islands can come true, if only for a little while.

Because islands are so far from cities and are generally quite difficult to get to, change comes slowly to them and they tend to be melting pots of whichever cultures lived there in the past. Zanzibar, for example, is an intoxicating mix of Arabic, Swahili and Italian colonial influences with occasional dollops of the 21st century. The Seychelles, too, are a jumble of eras, like a treasure-filled attic in an old manor house.

One of the charms of island life is the slower pace and laid-back attitude – Africa is, after all, the originator of the phrases ‘Hakuna Matata (no worries or no problem) and ‘Pole pole’ (slow down, it’ll happen when it happens, there’s no rush). When on vacation, it’s best to go with the flow and hop on your bike or even an old-fashioned oxen cart to get around. It may take a little longer, but you’re bound to have more fun!

Speaking of idyllic island living, have a look at a few of our favourites, including our top island holidays from South Africa:

1. Mozambique: A Private Island Paradise

A wooden deck on the edge of a beach dotted with palm trees features pool loungers and a plunge pool facing the ocean | Go2Africa
Private plunge pool and beachside bliss | andBeyond Benguerra Island

Venture to the paradisical shores of Mozambique where 2,500km (1,553 miles) of pristine coastline await discovery. While its tropical island prowess may not have been as touted as much as other islands in Africa and the likes of the Seychelles, it deserves every accolade it has received. Blissful beaches, water- and land-based activities, and world-class diving all feature as well as some incredible national parks. Discover its rich culture, history, and captivating landscapes or journey slightly further afield to enjoy its smaller surrounding islands.

If Mozambique isn’t exactly a household name, then the pocket of mostly uninhabited islands that make up the Quirimbas Archipelago off its remote north coast are even less so. Go one level deeper into the Quirimbas castaways, and you will find Medjumbe Island, a classic ‘desert island’ that ticks the boxes for long, white beaches, water the colour of a turquoise jewel and an abundance of exotic creatures living in its untrammelled indigenous forest.

When it comes to Mozambique hotels and resorts, there’s no shortage of incredible offerings for honeymooners, couples, families, and groups alike. For example, Azura Benguerra is a resort perfect for a family reunion or a big-ticket blow-out – what better place to mark your half-centenary than with a group of your nearest and dearest on a tropical island paradise?

Our Recommended Mozambique Tours

Our Recommended Mozambique Accommodations

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
A beautiful sunset from Benguerra Island The beach villa. Romantic dinners on the beach. Wine cellar. Kayaking. Luxury beach villa interior. Luxury beach villa.

Azura Benguerra

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Bird watching Cultural visits Day tours Deep sea fishing
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
BenguerraIslandLodge-Exterior-Bar BenguerraIslandLodge-Dining-romantic BenguerraIslandLodge-Exterior-ArealView BenguerraIslandLodge-Interior-Lounge BenguerraIslandLodge-Sunset BenguerraIslandLodge-Activity-Swimming BenguerraIslandLodge-Activity-Spa

Benguerra Island Lodge

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Bird watching Deep sea fishing Dhow cruises Fly fishing
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Azura-Marlin-Beach-Signature-Pic. Marlin-Beach-Villas-View Peri-Peri-Beach-Evening Peri-Peri-Elevated-Dining Azura-Marlin-Beach-Sunset-View Azura-Marlin-Beach-Villa Azura-Marlin-Beach-Villa-View

Azura Marlin Beach

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach within walking distance Boat excursions Deep sea fishing Dhow cruises

2. Seychelles: A Beautiful Island Holiday Destination

Part of a bedroom showing the end of a bed, window seat, and small chaise lounge look out at a balcony overlooking the sea | Go2Africa
Wake up to a picture-perfect paradise | Anantara Maia

The Seychelles (pronounced ‘say-shells’) is a republic made up of about 155 different islands – some of the smaller islands rise and fall with tectonic shifts and tides. But there’s no need to worry about joining the denizens of the lost city of Atlantis: the Seychelles’ largest islands of Mahe, La Digue and Praslin are as stable as they are ravishingly beautiful. This is a place where staggering granite boulders, sugar-like white sand, tangles of tropical jungle and a sea that’s as clear as azure stained glass effortlessly shape a dreamy tropical escape.

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to choose only one of these incredible islands. In this case, more is definitely more and ‘island hopping’ – spending a few days on one before sailing or flying off to another – is the way to go. Whether the call of a private island is too much to ignore, or a fully catered resort on Mahé sounds like your version of paradise, the Seychelles has it all.

Spend days lounging on some of Africa’s finest beaches and partaking in water-based activities, including some of the top diving spots in the world – there are even various dive resorts in the Seychelles. A host of diverse wildlife, sea life, and bird life call the islands home and can be spotted while enjoying some of the land-based activities on offer. When you’re not exploring, indulge in a delightful spa treatment and watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.

Our Recommended Seychelles Tours

Our Recommended Seychelles Accommodation

Private Islands, Seychelles
Aerial view of Denis Private Island and the surrounding crystal clear water. Spend the day lounging at the pool Comfortable sun loungers line the swimming pool looking out to the azure sea. Lines of palms welcome you to Denis Private Island Lodge. Denis Private Island main building. Comfortable lobby lounge. Enjoy exceptional scuba diving off the coast of Denis Private Island.

Denis Private Island Lodge

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach activities Bird watching Canoeing Day tours
Seychelles, Seychelles
Aerial view of Félicité Island. Swimming pool deck of the four bedroom residence Enjoy the sunset with your loved one and a cocktail. Sunset cruise on azure waters Stand-up paddle boarding Four bedroom residence exterior Sunset from the Pasyon Deck

Six Senses Zil Pasyon

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach within walking distance Children's activities
Mahe Island, Seychelles
Ephelia has a range of crystal clear swimming pools for refreshing dips and lazy afternoons on the loungers. Aerial view of the pristine coastline and beach. Breakfast by the pool kickstarts 'vacation mode' for the day. Dusk brings romantic lighting and dreamy reflections. Explore the coastline on a stand-up paddle board or kayak. Ephelia Resort has a beautiful location on Mahe Island. Dining options at Ephelia.

Ephelia Resort

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach activities Biking Fishing Kayaking

3. Zanzibar: Watch Marine Turtles Hatch In Mnemba

An aerial view of turquoise ocean waters meeting a white sandy beach that has thatched umbrellas and palm trees | Go2Africa
Where sparking sand meets azure sea | Zuri Zanzibar Resort

Zanzibar as a whole offers picture perfect palm-fringed beaches with the iconic contrast of white dhow sails against turquoise waters. From its spectacular coastlines and inland spice markets to delicious local cuisine and its World Heritage Site, Stone Town, Zanzibar is a diverse destination with so much to offer. Not only is it a popular honeymoon destination, but one of the top safari and beach combinations – particularly with Tanzania.

The small tropical paradise of Mnemba Island is just 1.5km (0.93 miles) in circumference and a proverbial paradise of powder soft beaches, coral reefs, and translucent turquoise water. Great visibility, tropical warm waters, and around 430 species of fish make it an ideal destination for snorkelling and diving. The island is also home to a PADI dive school. Enjoy kayaking, windsurfing, and even dhow cruises in this magical marine conservation area.

A thatched structure and platform below house a semicircular couch and small table and chairs while two sun loungers sit just outside on the beach | Go2Africa
Ready for a sublime day spent on the beach | andBeyond Mnemba Island

As African island holidays go, it’s a special spot with unique sightings: waiting patiently for baby turtles to hatch on a remote beach and then watching them waddle their way to the ocean. This bucket list item captures all life’s greatest emotions – the excitement when you hear the first shells cracking, the awe at seeing new life being hatched, the suspense at watching these tiny creatures frantically make their way to the safety of the sea, the bittersweet horror when one is taken by a predator, and the unadulterated joy when they do make it. Watching the cycle of life can be addictive and animal lovers sign up in droves to be a part of this experience.

Africa’s Indian Ocean beaches are home to five species of marine turtle – green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback and (the adorably named and least-seen) olive ridley – that return to matriarchal ancestral nesting grounds to lay their eggs. The best time to visit Zanzibar is highly dependent on whether this experience features on your bucket list or not.

Where Can You See The Turtles Hatch?

The remote Quirimbas is one of the best places to see turtles hatch (try Vamizi Island). The Seychelles are also a prime spot and Lemuria on Praslin Island could put you in the centre of the action during breeding season. Don’t overlook Zanzibar – easy to get to with good infrastructure, its islands offer ‘barefoot luxury’ at its best. Discover the best of Zanzibar’s Mnemba Island on the 7-day Mnemba Barefoot Luxury Paradise tour package.

Our Recommended Zanzibar Tours

Our Recommended Zanzibar Accommodation

Zanzibar, Tanzania
MnembaIslandLodge-Entrance-MainEntrance MnembaIslandLodge-Entrance-Lounge MnembaIslandLodge-Dining-BushDinner MnembaIslandLodge-Dining-Supper MnembaIslandLodge-UpperLevelBedroom-LuxuryRoom MnembaIslandLodge-Bathroom-LuxuryRoom MnembaIslandLodge-Interior-ArealView

Mnemba Island Lodge

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach activities Children's activities Deep sea fishing Kayaking
Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zuri-Zanzibar-8 Zuri-Zanzibar-1-Jacuzzi-Suite-exterior Zuri-Zanzibar-1-ocean-front-luxury-villa Zuri-Zanzibar-1-Ocean-view-bugalow Zuri-Zanzibar-3 Zuri-Zanzibar-5 Zuri-Zanzibar-7

Zuri Zanzibar Hotel & Resort

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach activities Beach within walking distance Day tours Restaurants within walking distance
Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zawadi-Hotel_-Image Zawadi-Hotel_-Pool-1 Zawadi-Hotel_-Pool-Area Zawadi-Hotel_-Beach-View Zawadi-Hotel_-Views Zawadi-Hotel_-Spa Zawadi-Hotel_-Lounge-Area

Zawadi Hotel

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach activities Beach within walking distance Day tours Diving

4. Madagascar: A Biodiversity Hotspot for Wildlife, Baobabs & Culture

A wooden structure by the beach with open-slat sides houses a couch along one side and a small table with chair on the other while a hammock hangs just outside | Go2Africa
Admiring the views | Constance Tsarabanjina

Discover the dichotomy of Madagascar – on one side, a tropical beach paradise reminiscent of a modern day Robinson Crusoe and on the other, a rich, biodiverse haven home to an awe-inspiring number of endemic species. The island’s iconic lemurs are the stars of the show, including the Silky Sifaka lemur – or ‘Angel of the Forest’ – one of the rarest species in the world. While technically a year-round destination, the best time to visit Madagascar is typically between May and October.

Catch a wave or two, watch whales lobtail from the shore, and uncover the ocean’s secrets on a snorkelling adventure. Madagascar is also made up of various islands, which make for an ideal island hopping destination. Venture to and fro from well-known favourites such as Nosy Be and Île Sainte-Marie or to lesser known marvels like Aye-Aye Island and Nosy Komba.

Away from the island’s exceptional beaches are its other icons, the imposing natural giants of deciduous baobab trees. Stroll along the Avenue of the Baobabs and explore Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park for its limestone cathedrals, ‘Stone Forests’, and some of the 12,000 odd plant species on the island. Between 70- and 80% of the island’s flora is endemic, including a staggering amount of orchid species, around 860.

Our Recommended Madagascar Tours

Our Recommended Madagascar Accommodation

Madagascar, Madagascar
Beach boma at Miavana. Miavana - gorgeous villas dotted along a pearl-white coastline. The bar at Miavana. Scuba activity at Miavana. The lounge at Miavana. Beautiful sunset view from your deck. Your en suite bathroom.

Time + Tide Miavana

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Fly fishing Kite surfing Scuba diving Snorkelling
Madagascar, Madagascar
This Crusoe-chic hotel is situated on Tsarabanjina, a pristine islet in north-western Madagascar's Mitsio Archipelago. Enjoy a refreshing pre-dinner cocktail while watching a breath-taking sunset. The ideal spot to relax and soak up the warmth of the sun. Step out onto your private terrace and sink into one of the comfortable deck chairs to marvel at the sensational sea views. Wake up to enchanting Indian Ocean views. Opt in to fishing excursions  to catch your own dinner. Tsarabanjina is surrounded by sapphire blue waters, ideal for scuba-diving.

Constance Tsarabanjina

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach activities Sailing Scuba diving Snorkelling
Madagascar, Madagascar
Tables set up on the beach for dinner at sunset | Go2Africa The entrance and lush greenery surrounding Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar | Go2Africa A table and two chairs overlooking grass and palm trees at Anjajavy le Lodge in Madagascar | Go2Africa A pool lounger looking out over the beach and ocean | Go2Africa Two beach chairs and an umbrella set up on a beach in Madagascar | Go2Africa Tables set up in front of Anjajavy le Lodge | Go2Africa A sunset behind palm trees and tables looking over the ocean | Go2Africa

Anjajavy le Lodge

Activities Travellers Enjoyed
Beach activities Beach within walking distance Biking Canoeing

Ready To Plan Your Perfect Holiday in One Of The Top Islands In Africa?

From white sandy beaches and diverse wildlife to exceptional activities and exclusive accommodations, African island holidays offer unique holiday destinations. If an island caught your eye, chat to one of our African Safari Experts to discuss a tailor-made itinerary.

Angela
Written By

Angela

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