June 23rd, 2020

Ultimate Beach Destinations in Africa and the Indian Ocean

Written by:

James Handley

Category:

The Insider

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Africa and the Indian Ocean are home to stunning archipelagos, coves and islands, all of which host sublime beaches.

In total, there are ten countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean that we would highly recommend as a beach destination.

If you wanted to combine some beach time with time spent elsewhere on the continent, it is worth considering the logistics involved when planning your trip.

In no particular order, these are our favourites:

Fundu Lagoon, Pemba - Tanzania


Tanzania

Tanzania's tropical coastline is a haven of brilliant white sandy beaches and tranquil turquoise waters. Many of the best beaches are found in the Zanzibar Archipelago, which is made up of several islands and atolls, the most famous of which is Zanzibar itself.

Activities from the majority of the beach resorts and hotels are plentiful. With warm crystal clear water and stunning visibility, snorkelling and scuba diving is excellent, almost year-round. Whale sharks use the warm waters as a nursery, with peak sightings being between October to March, particularly around Mafia Island.

Best time to visit: With cool, dry weather, the best time to visit Tanzania for its beaches is during June to October. Another popular time to visit these tropical waters is between December and February when it's hot and dry.

In terms of where to stay, there are literally thousands of choices. A top pick of ours is Xanadu Villas on Zanzibar.

Xanadu Villas, Zanzibar


South Africa

This incredibly diverse country is fortunate to play host to a broad range of coastal regions. Stretching 300km east from Mossel Bay down to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, the Garden Route is a spectacular coastal region of South Africa with breath-taking scenery, beaches plus a whole host of activities on offer. From kayaking, surfing, cycling, caving to coastal walks and whale-watching boat trips, you could easily spend a week exploring this fascinating region. Just be careful with the water temperature. Next stop is Antarctica!

The Elephant Coast, up near the Mozambique border, has a different climate completely and is a key nesting ground for leatherback and loggerhead turtles. Right along this country's stunning coastline you will be amazed to find stunning beaches, and scenery. The warm Indian Ocean waters are incredibly welcoming.

Best time to visit: Being such a large country, the climate varies significantly in the south vs the north. In and around Cape Town, the best months to visit for beach-time are between September and April. Up on the Elephant Coast, the beaches are spectacular all year round.

Given the more variable climate than other African beach destinations, the beach lodges in South Africa tend to be more like safari 'lodges' rather than beach resorts. One of our favourites is Lekkerwater Beach Lodge in the De Hoop Nature Reserve.

Lekkerwater Beach Lodge


Mauritius

Fringed by classic tropical coves and coral lagoons, Mauritius is an activity lover’s dream destination. This is the island to visit for those who prefer larger resort-style hotels that offer every activity under the sun.

The resorts on Mauritius tent to be slightly larger than those on other Indian Ocean islands, however what the increase in size does bring is a much greater variety of things to do.

Best time to visit: During the northern hemisphere's summer months, April to October when the humidity is low and the weather is calm. While the temperatures are slightly warmer from October to December, the likelihood or rain and cyclones increases.

Gracing an enviable stretch of the island’s eastern coast, our favourite lodge is the family friendly Constance Belle Mare Plage.

Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius


Mozambique

Mozambique is blessed to have one of the longest and best coastlines in all of Africa, and is home to some stunning stretches of sandy beaches on the mainland and coastal islands. From the idyllic Quirimbas Islands in the north, to the stunning Bazaruto Archipelago and around Maputo Bay in the country’s south.

Best time to visit: The drier months between April and September, when temperatures are ever so slightly cooler. Aim to visit between July and October if you want to see the annual whale migration up the long coastline. However, the weather is still excellent year round with January being one of the most popular times to visit.

As with the majority of lodges along Africa's coasts, the activities on offer are plentiful. Diving and snorkelling are particularly good in Mozambique.

For pure relaxation, our preferred area to visit is the Bazaruto Archipelago which lies near the coastal town of Vilankulos. Accessible by helicopter, we would recommend spending time at the superb Azura Benguerra.

Azura Benguerra, Benguerra Island


Kenya

Kenya's coastline is dotted with dazzling tropical beaches, each with its own style and personality. With soft white sand plus accessible coral reefs, the southern stretches of coast, particularly around Diani, are our favourite areas for post-safari beach time, or indeed for a fully beach focused holiday.

Best time to visit: The months between October and February are considered to be the best period to visit Kenya's beaches. These months also offer the best conditions for diving and snorkelling.

The tidal beaches are a fantastic location for plenty of activities. Windsurfing, snorkelling and diving are all very popular!

One of our favourite lodges along the southern reaches of Kenya's coast is the stunning Azhari Beach Suite.

Azhari Beach Suite, Diani


Seychelles

The Seychelles is essentially a group of 115 islands which form one of the most incredible archipelagos in the world. The two largest islands, Mahé and Praslin, are home to a diverse array of hotels and resorts of all different sizes and quality.

The outlying islands are almost private and are occupied by one sole resort - almost always with outstanding facilities and exemplary levels of service. Normally, the only way of reaching these islands is by private helicopter charter from Mahé.

Best time to visit: Two trade winds which hit the island each year between June and September, and December and March. The only months to really think twice about are January, February and March.

In terms of activities, the majority of larger resorts offer most aquatic activities. If you are interested in travelling to a smaller resort, which doesn't offer all activities, it's sometimes possible to make use of neighbouring resorts facilities. There are golf courses on both of the two larger islands, with the better quality resort being on Praslin.

Our favourite resort is the small and intimate JA Enchanted Island Resort, about a 15 minute boat ride from Mahé.

JA Enchanted Island, Seychelles


Maldives

The Maldives are a world of impossibly beautiful beaches and gorgeous sunsets. The 26 coralline atolls that make up the country have everything you could ever dream of, and more.

Best time to visit: Between November and April. The high season falls between December and March (with the highest rates) with the annual monsoons occurring from May to October, peaking around June.

There is an abundance of high quality accommodation in the Maldives, the majority of which offer almost every aquatic activity available under the sun (literally). One of our favourite resorts has to be Kudadoo in the Lhaviyani Atoll.

Kudadoo, Maldives


Madagascar

The gigantic island of Madagascar almost seems as if it's from another world entirely. The country has an incredible diversity of landscape which plays host to countless endemic specials of both fauna and flora. The northern shores, and particularly on the smattering of islands that skirt the coast, have some of the best beaches in Africa!

Wildlife is prevalent throughout Madagascar, and this continues underwater. Activities from beach lodges and camps range from scuba exploration to snorkelling trips, and type of aquatic sport possible. One of our favourite lodges that offers almost every activity is the wonderful Miavana.

Best time to visit: Between April and December. Being such a large country, the climate does vary in the north vs the south.

Miavana, Nosy Ankao, Madagascar


Malawi

The 'warm heart of Africa'. This small landlocked country might come as a surprising addition to an article about beaches! While there are no coastlines as such, the country is in fact dominated by the tranquil waters of Lake Malawi.

Best time to visit: With distinct 'wet' and 'dry' seasons, between May and October is best for for clear blue skies.

The lake is one of the most diverse fresh water ecosystems on the planet and is thought to harbour an estimated 1000+ fish species. Activities, including scuba diving, are very popular from the several lodges and camps that grace its sandy shores. Our top pick is the beautiful Kaya Mawa on Likoma Island!

Kaya Mawa, Lake Malawi


São Tomé and Príncipe

The little-known islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are tucked away off the west coast of Africa. The beautiful islands contain relics of Portuguese rule that are slowly being absorbed back into the island’s jungles. With thick jungle reaching all the way down to beautiful sand beaches, imagine 'Garden of Eden meets Jurassic Park' and you will be thinking along the right lines!

The islands receive very few visitors and as such, the resorts are few and far between. The smaller of the two islands, Príncipe, is the more 'beautiful' of the two, and where you would spend most of your time if you visited.

Best time to visit: Situated very close to the equator, the islands have a tropical climate. The driest period is from mid-June to mid-September.

Activities from the lodges focus heavily on nature, cultural and the fascinating history of the islands. The extremely welcoming locals all have a story to tell!

To get a taste of what a holiday to these beautiful islands would be like, take a look at the magnificent Sundy Praia eco-lodge.

Sundy Praia, São Tomé and Príncipe

Africa isn't just home to some of the finest beaches in the world - there are hundreds of other superb activities and experiences to enjoy. 

Click on the bold links here to read all about the SafariCultural and Adventure experiences possible throughout the continent.  

Thanks for reading,

The Bonamy Travel team

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