Kisawa Sanctuary in Mozambique is the kind of retreat Robinson Crusoe wouldn’t have dared to dream of. The estate – spanning forests, beaches and sand dunes – covers almost 750 acres of Benguerra Island off the coast of east Africa. The minimum plot size for each of the secluded suites is one acre of private tropical paradise. Each intrepid voyager to this far-flung corner is rewarded with a free 60-minute welcome massage and jet-lag defeater. Once recovered, you’ll be able to pick-your-own permaculture produce from the gardens and present it to the obliging chef, go diving, sailing, surfing and stand-up paddle-boarding, and reach new kinds of relaxation at the spa – just be back in time for sundowner o’clock (4pm).
Get this when you book through us:
A €100 resort credit. GoldSmiths will receive an extra wellness treatment each
10am, but flexible, subject to availability, tides, and air and sea curfews. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £3473.36 (€4,045), including tax at 17.6 per cent.
Rates usually include all meals, butler service, most drinks, a welcome spa treatment, use of your own Mini Moke, laundry and sunset sails on Kisawa’s dhow.
If your search for a kettle is fruitless, don’t panic – that’s what your butler is for and if you want to channel the Queen of England and take tea at whatever time pleases you, they’ll be more than happy to brew up on your behalf.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, gardens, free laundry, gym with Pilates reformer machines and a yoga dome, and a house dhow boat. In rooms: TV, record player and vinyl collection, stocked pantry, outdoor kitchen and shower, artworks and sculptures, sun hat, butler, Mini Moke buggy and Vana bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Honeymooners should book the remote Residence 2, the most secluded of all the bungalows (and there’s some competition), at the top of a dune. For the most acreage, go for Residence 7, which has two pools, three bedrooms, a vast outdoor area and direct access to the cove.
The lagoon-like, dune-edged pool segues into the Indian Ocean (they almost needn’t have bothered). It’s open from 9am to 5pm, but your inflatable flamingo will need pre-approval.
The NWC (Natural Wellness Centre), built to look like a traditional circular village house, is set across different domes, each representing an element or energy. Sign up for reiki, breathwork, energetic healing and Ayurvedic treatments using honey, sea salt, herbs and coconut and almond oil – all sourced on the island. Practitioners in residence include a holistic doctor and a yoga teacher, and various visiting masters call by, too.
This is one occasion when contemplating your desert-island essentials is actually necessary – though you can probably bring a little more than three items.
Kids aged under 11 stay free; for over-12s, it’s €450 a night. The ocean-side residences are not recommended for families with small children, due to the swell. Babysitting can be arranged with 24 hours’ notice; it costs €30 an hour.
The ocean-side residences are not recommended for families with small children, due to the swell. There are multi-bedroom residences on their own plot.
Children will love exploring this remote wilderness and meeting its marine life – activities include mastering traditional fishing, arts and crafts, shell-hunting missions and learning how to camp under the stars. The team will also be able to organise family yoga, cookery lessons and stand-up paddle-board outings.
Kids must be accompanied by an adult when swimming in the lagoon pool.
Each restaurant and the room-service menu has special options for smaller appetites.
Babysitting can be arranged with 24 hours’ notice; it costs €30 an hour.
The hotel was designed to blend in with its surroundings, using traditional Mozambican weaving, thatching and carpentry, local timber and the wares of artisans from the archipelago. The hotel has a partnership (and financially supports) an ocean observatory on the other side of the island, the Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies. Produce is grown in the estate’s permaculture gardens, or sourced from farmers and suppliers within a 300-mile radius; and things made on-site include bread, cheese and smoked meats.
Have breakfast with a view of the dunes at the Main Terrace, before winding up the day listening to the vinyls at sunset spot Baracca.
Shoes are unofficially outlawed.
There are three: the Main Terrace, the Cove Mussassa and Baracca. Breakfast can be in your bungalow, at the Main Terrace or at the Cove Mussassa. The Main Terrace has a robata grill for live-cooking shows, seafood pastas and surf and turf; it’s basically your living room for the duration of your stay, with a fireplace for winter (despite the coldest temperature being a balmy-for-Brits 20ºC) and a dune-facing deck for the rest of the time. Wander in off the beach to Baracca, where classic Mozambican dishes are joined by South Indian flavours – the highlight is the peri-peri roast chicken (Nando’s could never). The Cove Mussassa is a laid-back beach café with excellent sharing plates for vegans and vegetarians.
Drinks are served at the Main Terrace and Baracca until 10pm.
Breakfast is served at the Cove Mussassa and the Main Terrace, from 7.30am to 11am. Lunch hours at both of these restaurants are noon to 3pm; and dinner is from 7pm to 10pm. Baracca opens for dinner between 6pm and 10pm.
An extensive room-service menu can be ordered from around the clock.
You need a transfer to reach this hotel. For approximate costs, see location information
Kisawa Sanctuary is off the coast of east Africa in the Bazaruto Archipelago, 14 kilometres away from the Mozambique mainland.
You’ll be met at Vilanculos Airport on the mainland and transferred to Kisawa via a seven-minute helicopter ride. Each chopper can seat four and the price per person for a return is €450; the reservations team will arrange everything for you. Private transfers by helicopter cost €1,800 return. There are weight restrictions for luggage, so be sure to check these first. International arrivals can land in Johannesburg and connect to an Airlink service to Vilanculos there.
Worth getting out of bed for
Look out for dolphins and dugongs on a marine expedition with the team, head over to Paradise Island (as if you weren’t on one already), go diving with scientists or try out some rock fishing. Sunset cruises on the hotel’s traditional dhow boat are not to be missed and your butler will be able to organise other sundowner opportunities, including drinks at the red dune. Other activities include ocean-edge strolls and dune-climbing for a view of the inland lakes – the island is home to one of the highest dunes in Mozambique. You’ll also be able to surf, kayak and paddle-board, and the staff can point out the best jogging trails.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this heavenly hotel in Mozambique and unpacked their swimsuits and shorts, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kisawa Sanctuary in Benguerra Island…
There’s nothing rustic about this desert island, which is now graced by secluded beachfront bungalows sitting on their own enormous acreage. Each has its own private beach, outdoor deck and living area, infinity pool and kitchen, and is topped by a wave-shaped roof. Even the gym is thatched.
The word ‘kisawa’ means unbreakable and it doesn’t just mean that the residences are sturdy; it’s more a nod to the bond between the land and its people. Wellbeing in the wilderness can be located at the trullo-like spa, officially an NWC, or Natural Wellness Centre. At the Main Terrace, guests can feel all at sea by peeking out of the ocean-framing portholes in the lounge or at the water’s edge on the deck. And if the thought of being adrift on a desert island appeals, you’ve come to the right place: your departure time is dependent on tides and sea and air curfews, so you may just get stuck. There are far worse places to be stranded…