Anantara bazaruto island resort
But perhaps the dreamiest excursions happen at sunrise and sunset, whether you’re hiking the island’s signature dunes or sailing along the coastline in a traditional dhow as the light hits just so.
From travel clinics to frequent flyer forums, you’ll find no shortage of expert advice on how to sleep through long-haul journeys. But if ever there were a time to ignore the experts, it’s the homestretch of the trip to Bazaruto Island, part of a national park in the Indian Ocean off Mozambique’s southern coast.
Yes, you’ll likely have spent more than 30 hours in transit by the time you’re descending toward Vilankulo (also known as Vilankulos and Vilanculos, among other variations on the theme). But even if you have to pry your eyelids open manually, do not miss this view: a swirling, psychedelic confluence of clear turquoise water and rippling white sand—and the perfect starter for the sensory feast to come at Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort.
From the airport, you could opt for a 20-minute helicopter ride to the island. But the boat transfer, which typically takes 45-60 minutes, offers at least a glimpse of life in Vilankulo en route to the launch. (If there’s time for a quick market stop, beeline to the pop-up couture stands, where artisans behind old-timey sewing machines transform boldly patterned Mozambican fabrics into wearable eye candy.)
Another point in the boat’s favor: There’s nothing like hopping barefoot off the back into the island’s aquamarine shallows, then stumbling up the beach to the rhythmic stylings of a dozen-member welcome committee, some wielding percussion instruments and others, fruity drinks. This is also when you’ll meet your butler, who—after adding you to a WhatsApp chat—will begin seeing to your every island need.
Among the first will be an appointment at the resident spa, where an open-air, hilltop reception area with wide-open views of the Indian Ocean serves as a natural relaxant, aided by the peppermint cinnamon iced tea you’re served on arrival. Arguably the most indulgent of the signature treatments is the 120-minute Bazaruto Bliss, and though the name may strike you as redundant in light of your surroundings (the treatment rooms have water views, too), you’re not going to be quibbling over nomenclature as your feet are washed and scrubbed with a rooibos-honey mix, nor as your body is drizzled with warm oil, sloughed, masked and finally massaged.
Between the treatments and the views, the spa is tough to leave, but cheery reminders from your butler will keep you on top of other commitments: meals alongside the songbird-filled trees of Golfinho, for example, where you should ask for the amazing house-made Mozambican hot sauce, no matter what else you order; or boat rides to Paradise Island, where you can snorkel among outsized corals with teeming gangs of Technicolor fish; or visits to a local village, where school kids will no doubt try out a bit of English on you, and where—whatever you understand or don’t—extreme cuteness will break down any language barrier.
But perhaps the dreamiest excursions happen at sunrise and sunset, whether you’re hiking the island’s signature dunes or sailing along the coastline in a traditional dhow as the light hits just so. You’ll try to capture the colors of the sand, sea and sky for posterity, but the scenes are so otherworldly, no camera can quite do them justice. The same holds true for the cherry red starfish you’ll spot from the water’s surface, and—if you’re lucky—the local dugongs and dolphins.
At night, cocooned under gauzy bed netting in your beachside villa, you won’t take long to start making up for any travel-induced sleep deficit. So, by the time you check out, you’ll run little risk of snoozing through the most beautiful parts of the journey home. You will, however, run the risk of tearing up through the goodbye: another musical extravaganza on the beach, except this time, you know—and know you’re going to miss—the singers. anantara.com