With gorgeous beaches, exotic spices, and fascinating culture, Zanzibar is one of Africa’s top beach vacation destinations. It perfectly complements Big 5 safari adventures in Tanzania.
Stunning South African beaches range from the family-friendly Boulders Beach to Muizenberg and surfers’ favourite Blouberg. Those who crave solitude will find it at iSimangaliso’s secluded beaches.
Zanzibar looks like it was lifted from a postcard, with its serene shorelines and tropical weather. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover a dynamic culture that celebrates the influences of dozens of different countries. Plus, there are lots of great things to do that take advantage of the area’s natural elements.
Visiting Zanzibar at the right time is key to making the most of your trip. The best times to visit are from June to October, which is the dry season filled with reliably warm and sunny weather. It’s also when the marine life is at its peak; humpback whales and seahorses can be seen in September and October, while eagle rays and sharks are present year-round.
The beaches here are incredible, too, with a number of them boasting gorgeous coral reefs. Matemwe is the longest beach and home to traditional fishing villages, while Pongwe has maybe the most beautiful water around with a gentle arc that makes it perfect for swimmers. It’s also one of the few places where you can watch a sunrise at sea.
Another great beach to visit is Mnemba, which is home to a few luxury hotels and some excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. You’ll also find plenty of other great spots to swim, relax and drink cocktails as the sun sets.
Kenya is known for its safaris and wildlife, but it also has incredible sandy beaches. Choose to spend your time relaxing at picturesque beaches like Nyali near Mombasa, or try surfing in Diani. You can also take in the sights of the capital city Nairobi, and even hike up Mount Kenya for a stunning view from the top!
One of the best beach destinations in Kenya is Lamu Island, a cluster of beautiful islands just off the coast. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to many amazing beaches, including Kipungani and Shela. Both of these beaches have a natural, unspoiled atmosphere, and they’re not very crowded.
At Shela Beach, you can enjoy a variety of water sports, while at Kipungani, you can relax and pass the time by watching the dhows sail past. You can also go snorkelling or diving in the nearby Marine National Park, where you’ll find a great deal of marine life.
In the town of Lamu, you’ll find a wide array of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget hotels and hostels. Then, you can head to the secluded Manda Toto island for a true back-to-nature experience. This small, uninhabited island is the perfect place to snorkel and practice traditional hand line fishing. The gentle ocean waves make it perfect for body surfing, too!
Mozambique’s pristine beaches and remote islands are the main attractions for many travellers but there is much more to this country than meets the eye. History and culture buffs will find plenty to do here. From a tour of Maputo’s historic markets to soaking up the sounds and sights on a walking tour of downtown, it is easy to soak in Mozambique’s fascinating past here.
A highlight is Gorongosa National Park, the country’s flagship conservation area where you can see a diversity of wildlife including elephant and buffalo herds as well as zebra, antelope and sought-after wild dog. Another great option is Pomene Reserve where you can go on a safari in the mangrove and dune forests to spot leopards, lions, and other predators.
On Ibo Island you can enjoy a unique mix of cultural influences from both Portugal and Africa as local fishermen still live in houses that would look at home in any century and where they grow their own food. And, of course, there are some wonderful sandy beaches where you can relax on the beach and even take a dip in the warm waters or go snorkelling among the reefs. In the Quirimbas Archipelago you can also head out on dhow cruises and be transported back in time as these finely-crafted Swahili vessels have been plying the waters of this region for centuries.
4. Sao Tome & Principe
Floating in the Gulf of Guinea, this two-island nation blends natural wonders and gripping history. Tidy Principe is like a marvelous Lost World, offering fantastic beaches, jungle exploration and snorkeling. The country is also a birding destination and boasts one of the most beautiful churches in the world.
Explore the many rocas (cocoa plantations) on Sao Tome and Principe, which used to be one of the world’s biggest producers of cocoa. This beautiful archipelago is largely comprised of people with slave ancestry, so these plantations are an important part of the local culture.
The most famous attraction in Sao Tome and Principe is a picture-perfect tropical beach that was featured in a Bacardi ad campaign. It is located on the island of So Tomé and is a favorite among travelers. This beautiful beach is known for its crystal clear water and spectacular cliffs that form small pools.
Another top activity is visiting the Santo Antonio Church in Sao Tome and Principe, a showpiece that was built during the colonial era. This church is a must-visit for history lovers. It is a wonderful example of Portuguese baroque architecture and offers an insight into the history of the country. Lastly, one should not miss out on a visit to the Bom Bom Resort on the island of So Tome and Principe. This resort is owned by South African billionaire entrepreneur and one-time space tourist Mark Shuttleworth. It is a luxurious resort with excellent facilities and services.