Benguerra Island Overview
- Blue lagoon
- Coast life
- The tide is high
Remote and reef-fringed Benguerra Island is stranded off the coast of southern Mozambique, sun-favoured and away from it all…
Calling all castaways: things can’t get better than this. The totally tropical Bazaruto Archipelago is formed of five islands, and Benguerra, 14 kilometres from the mainland, is its second biggest. An untouched landscape of pristine shores, crystal-watered seas and swaying palms, roads are merely tracks in the sand around here. Sail the sapphire waters in an old wooden dhow boat, or go subaquatic and scuba-dive your way around the coral reefs and sparkling shoals of fish. Inland, the landscape is made up of forests, freshwater lakes, wetlands and savannah. It may be cut off from the rest of the country, but there’s no laid-back island life on Benguerra. The community welcomes visitors to join in and help out with some of the many conservation projects: building clinics, protecting dolphins and sponsoring local football teams.
Beautifully Benguerra IslandD is for diving: Benguerra Island is one of the world’s top dive destinations. Scuba-dive and snorkel its spectacular coral reefs, home to over 1,200 species of marine life, including turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and humpbacks. Those in luck will spot a mythical dugong: fondly nicknamed the 'sea cow' for its mammal-resembling appearance, it’s believed it was actually the dugong spotted by the seafarers who perpetuated the mermaid legend, and not the half-man, half-fish siren at all.
- You’re more likely to see a rank of dugongs lining up to give you a ride than a black cab around here; all travel is arranged through your resort, most of which have their own fleet of wooden dhonis, speedboats and 4x4s.
- Tipping culture
- For villas with butler hosts, a general guide is US$10–US$15 a night, with the same going to the rest of the staff, but tips are not expected.
- Siesta and fiesta
- If you’ve been on safari over on the mainland, chances are you’re used to dawn starts, so rise and make the most of the shine. The relaxed resorts revolve around you – you’ll be setting your own timetables for meals.
- Packing tips
- Eyesight-enhancing apparatus: binoculars to see birds and telescopes to spot the stars. Bring scholarly pads and pencils for the local kids, and medical supplies won’t go amiss, either. Keep cool with some cotton clothing.
- Recommended reads
- Beira-born Mia Couto has written fiction set in Mozambique, including Under the Frangipani and The Last Flight of the Flamingo. Mozambique Diaries by Lisa St Aubin de Teràn is the tale of her love for the country.
- Regional specialities
- The colonial Portuguese influence is clear in the cooking, nowhere more so than in the prevalence of piri-piri sauce: hot and fiery, eyewateringly spicy versions are on sale at makeshift stalls on the mainland. The island grows its fair share of tropical fruits; pineapples are peeled and eaten upside-down, with the stalk acting as a stick, and wild cashews are picked and roasted by children, who sell them by the bag on the beach. In soups and curries, crabs speared on sharpened bits of wood add flavour.
- Metical (MT). US dollars (US$) are also widely accepted.
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Mozambique: +258.
- Do go/don't go
- This tropical island is warm and sunny all year, but dry and cooler between April and September. It’s hottest and most humid from October until March. The mainland is much rainier, but expect showers in January and February. Cyclone season in the Indian Ocean is January to March; Mozambique isn’t in the belt, but they do occasionally hit.
Don't go home without...
…Spotting as many of the 600 or so species of bird seen in Mozambique, including the rare migratory warblers and Eleonora’s falcon.