Island hopping

A private slice of paradise

As we enter the final leg of our African trip, we’re set to a destination that invites to be explored at a soft pace. Pilot Alain happily swaps the Socrates plane for a small private plane and flies us to the idyllic coral island of Vamizi, set among the Quirimbas Archipelago. An eight-mile long finger of jungle covered island, in a marine conservation area off the coast of northern Mozambique.

Getting there is a fantasy for airborne Africa: flying low over the clearest blue water, tiny remote islands in view all around, easing down until our wheels touch the edgy island airstrip and roll us to a gentle stop. Time seems to pass slower allready. The island is blessed with a tropical climate and spotless powder-soft beaches that rival those of the Maldives. An easy encounter with the untamed.

Barefoot bliss

At Vamizi, you can savour the raw natural beauty of the Indian Ocean in any possible way.

Our private villa beach villa is nestled in the shadow of mature casuarina trees and has its own access to the picture perfect beach. I decide to embark on a solo kayaking adventure to get a first glimpse of the island. I glide almost effortlessly over the glass-like water and drift silently past mangroves along the shoreline. As it’s early morning, kingfisher birds and cicadas fill the air with their dawn songs. The five other villas on the island are well spread out. The accent of the accommodation of andBeyond is on space, open plan island serenity and exclusive privacy. A luxury Robinson Crusoe getaway...

With tropical temperatures of about 35 degrees, we’re all looking forward to spend some time in the water. After a healthy lunch on the beach, the girls and I grab a snorkel, mask and a set of fins. Mathieu and Alain are eager to go the extra mile to dive into the deep blue and explore the healthy coral reefs around.

Hope spot

Vamizi is a so-called Hope Spot, by being a part of the world that is critical to the world’s health and its ecosystem. Any positive effort they succeed with here has an exponential knock-on effect for the world as a whole. All over the tropics, reefs are in terminal decline, prey to global warming, overfishing and pollution. Vamizi is in partnership with WWF and has established a dedicated research centre with resident zoologists on the island.

No wonder that his is the place divers dream about... The wild underwater landscapes, the bounty of tropical ocean currents and an abundance of marine life, makes Vamizi diving beyond world class. Neptune’s Arm - where coral gardens tumble down the edge of a thousand metre cliff so crowded with fish you can hardly see the view - has been named as one of the top ten scuba sites on the planet.

Vamizi is a so-called Hope Spot, by being a part of the world that is critical to the world’s health and its ecosystem. Any positive effort they succeed with here has an exponential knock-on effect for the world as a whole.

Underwater world

The best spots are reached by motorboat with a personal guide, as few of the diving sites have been properly mapped yet. We are headed to an underwater plateau where a coral reef plummets into a deep ocean channel, while a pod of dolphins swim along shyly. After a half-hour trip the line of the darkest blue water marks the drop-off. The boys make their backflip into the water and disappear in no-time into the seabed 500m below.

In the meantime our personal snorkeling instructor introduces us to the art of freediving, while dancing with the drift. The underwater landscape is breathtaking after all, with yellow, green, brown and black sponges. Some look like spilled paint, others grow like fingers sticking out from the wall and some are barrel corals with skeletons as wide as I am tall. Michou spots a giant seashell and tiny school of clownfish. And my heart skips a few beats when a huge tuna passes by, mistaking for a white shark as both have stiff bodies and tails that allow them to swim in bursts. The diving instructor smiles widely, looking up towards the shining surface of the sea.

On the boat trip back, Mathieu shares its close encounter and eskimo kiss with a giant green turtle. Vamizi Island has the largest recorded population of green turtles in Mozambique, managed by one of the longest standing turtle monitoring programs in East Africa. And if you’re lucky enough to visit the island in July and September, you can spot the humpback whales pass on their epic voyage from East Africa to Antarctica. They bring their newborn calves with them and the new families enjoy frolicking in the deep water channels around the island. It’s needless to say that there is always something extraordinary to see in this fish Eden... During our castaway lunch at the lighthouse with local picnic delights, we’re still savoring the mysteries of the deep blue ocean.Pure bliss.

Chasing sunset on a traditional dhow

A sunset cruise on a traditional dhow is the perfect way to see out the day. Lean back and relax with a glass of chilled wine and and array of healthy bites. The regular trade breezes and calm seas ensure the conditions for sailing are almost always perfect. Dhows were traditionally used as trading vessels, to carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise, along the coasts of Eastern Arabia East Africa, Yemen and coastal South Asia. With the billowing white sails moving silently against the blue space of the Indian Ocean, you imagine yourself in a romantic tale of thousand and one nights. Nothing afloat is so graceful as these simple wooden fishing boats turned into flying.

Sonderling traveled through amazing Africa for 3 weeks with private travel agency Socrates Projects. More info on