Bazaruto Islands Budget Travel Guide

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About Bazaruto Archipelago - the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean"

One of the top travel destinations in Mozambique - Bazaruto is a must-see on any safari to this stunning part of Africa!

The near pristine tropical paradise of Bazaruto Islands is best known for its idyllic white-sand beaches and some of the best scuba diving in the world. The Bazaruto Archipelago forms part of the Bazaruto National Park, one of the largest marine reserves in the Indian Ocean.

The 5 Bazaruto Islands:

The Bazaruto Archipelago consists of five tropical islands – Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Bangue and Santa Carolina (also called Paradise Island) strung along the historical Mozambican channel.

  • Bazaruto - The island of Bazaruto is the largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, at approximately 37km long and 7km wide at most. Bazaruto is an idyllic beach holiday destination, ideal for relaxing in the sunshine and taking a break from it all. The nearby coral reefs offer beautiful diving sites, inhabited by an impressive array of tropical fish. Bazaruto also offers excellent fishing and is one of the best places to catch marlin, kingfish and other large game fish. Bazaruto Island – a sandy island located approximately 80km's (50 mi) southeast of the mouth of the Save River, on the Mozambique mainland. This island of wide, powdery beaches fringed with palms, also features tall sand dunes and inland lakes and falls within the Bazaruto National Park.
  • Benguerra - Benguerra Island, the second largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, is best known for its pristine white-sand beaches, great horse riding, excellent fishing and superb diving sites, including the renowned Two-Mile Reef. The island only covers around 55km² being a mere 11km long and about 5.5km wide. The island also features a rich cultural life and is often visited by dhows (traditional sailing vessels)  as they sail along the northern part of the island, dragging fishing nets, or visiting nearby reefs. The island is located less than a kilometre south of Bazaruto Island and 14km off the Mozambique mainland. The tide varies greatly at Benguerra Island fluctuating up to 10m exposing large sandbars.
  • Magaruque - Formerly Ilha Santa Isabel, this small island covers less than 2 km² of land, located 5.6km south of Benguerra Island, and just under 10km east of the Mozambique mainland. A visit to the island makes a great one-day trip, with dhow sailing excursions being very popular. Highlights include deserted beaches strewn with pansy shells, frequent dolphin sightings and fantastic diving and snorkelling at reefs just off the western shore of the quiet islet.
  • Bangue - Ilha Bangue, also spelt "Banque", is a tiny island lying around 15km off the Mozambican mainland in the Inhambane Region of Southern Mozambique. This Bazaruto island is uninhabited and undeveloped but can be explored on visits. It is a popular fishing destination and falls within the national park.
  • Santa Carolina (Paradise Island) - The "gem" of the Bazaruto Archipelago, is a rocky island a mere 2km long and about 500m wide. The island is fringed by three beautiful beaches, deep channels for excellent game fishing and shallow coral reefs ideal for snorkelling and diving. Santa Carolina was an extremely popular beach getaway in its heydey when tourists and famous figures visited its hotel from around the world. Since the civil war, however, the once magnificent hotel has been standing empty, but there is talk of future developments on the island.

Bazaruto Archipelago Facts and Figures

In 1971 the Bazaruto Islands and surrounding coral reefs were declared a National Park, becoming one of the largest protected areas in the Indian Ocean and Mozambique's only official marine reserve.

The coral reefs surrounding the Bazaruto Islands support thousands of fish, marine animals and kinds of coral. These protected coral reefs are unspoilt providing a pristine habitat for over 2000 species of fish, along with sharks, whales and dolphins.

Given the clear, warm waters and intact coral reefs that shelter such a diverse abundance of sea life, the Bazaruto Archipelago, offers some of the best scuba diving in the world. When snorkelling or diving in the area, you are likely to come across whale sharks, giant lobsters, humpback whales, turtles, dolphins, manta rays and game fish. The islands also host East Africa’s largest population of Dugong, or sea cows (a relative of the manatee). Dive sites range from about 12 to 30 meters deep and the visibility can get up to 40 meters.

The deep channels off these tropical islands are excellent for big game fishing with fish including marlins, barracudas and sailfish. The Bazaruto area is ranked as the best Marlin fishing destination in the Eastern Indian Ocean and fishing enthusiasts can also try salt water fly fishing for sought-after bonefish.

The Bazaruto cluster of islands is also a bird watching haven, attracting an interesting variety of birds, with around 160 species recorded.

Loggerhead turtles, among the rarest in the world, nest on the island beaches along with two other turtle species. The islands are home to about 45 reptile and amphibian species, two of which are endemic to the Bazaruto Islands. Freshwater crocodiles, suni antelope, red duiker and samango monkeys are also found on the Bazaruto Islands, as well as various endemic butterflies. 

Bazaruto Island Highlights

The Bazaruto Archipelago truly is one of the most beautiful African beach destinations.  

  • Wide, white-sand beaches fringed with palm trees and lush island vegetation, inhabited by samango monkeys, butterflies and an array of birds.
  • Two Mile Reef - a world renowned site for scuba-diving and snorkelling.
  • Excellent big game fishing, with giant trevally, sailfish and marlin frequently caught.
  • Warm, clear waters from the Mozambique current, ideal for swimming and exploring the endless reefs.
  • Laid-back village life with traditional cultures and colourful markets, set in the shade of fruit and nut trees.
  • Warm, tropical climate ideal for beach holidays year round.
  • Fresh seafood, stunning scenery and picture-perfect sunsets.
  • The national park is home to an amazing variety of marine life and pristine coral reefs.

Bazaruto is an ideal beach destination to kick-back and relax, before or after a wildlife safari adventure in southern Africa. It is easy to see why this almost untouched beach paradise is called the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean'.

Bazaruto Activities

  • Scuba diving & snorkelling - Bazaruto boasts some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world, with its pristine coral reefs and rich sea life. Expect to encounter turtles, dolphins (spinner, bottlenose and humpback), as well as dugong and an array of other marine creatures. 
  • Dhow safaris - Visit the Islands of Bazaruto and explore the azure waters on dhow excursions, in traditional East African sailing vessels.
  • Horse safaris - Go horse riding on the larger islands of the archipelago, exploring the beaches and inland areas.
  • Game fishing - The Bazaruto Archipelago offers world-class Big Game Fishing. Mid-September to late December is the best time for Marlin fishing and April to August is best for catching sailfish. Smaller game fish, including King Mackerel, Bonito, Travelli, and Queen Mackerel can be caught at any time of the year. Bazaruto is a marine reserve, therefore a "tag and release" fishing policy is the norm. 
  • Island Activities - Hiking on the islands, sandboarding on the dunes and surfing along the warm shores.
  • Beaching - Swim in the warm Indian Ocean and lie on one of the idyllic the beaches.

Location of Bazaruto Archipelago

The Bazaruto Archipelago is located about 20 to 30 km off the coast of Vilanculos, Mozambique, in southeast Africa.

Closest to Bazaruto on the mainland are Vilanculos and the town of Inhassoro, falling under the Vilankulo District and Inhambane Province of Mozambique.

Mozambique is bordered by Tanzania in the north, South Africa and Swaziland to the south, Zimbabwe on the west, and Zambia and Malawi to the northwest. Mozambique itself boasts a 2500 km long coastline of white sand beaches with warm Indian Ocean waters.

The Bazaruto Islands are easily reached by boat or plane from the mainland of Mozambique, mostly from Vilanculos. The largest island, Bazaruto Island (meaning "island of the mist"), is just under 80km's southeast of the Save River mouth in Mozambique.

Bazaruto Climate - When to Go to Bazaruto Islands

This is a tropical beach paradise - it experiences ideal beach weather!

The best time to go to Bazaruto is from late May to September when rainfall is at its lowest and temperatures ranging between 22-30°C (71-86° F).

The rainy season is from late October to late March/early April when it's humid and temperatures soar. January and February are the wettest months with the most cyclones, so try to avoid this period. That said, Bazaruto mostly gets afternoon showers, that can offer a refreshing break from the heat.

It is always warm on the Bazaruto Islands, even in the evenings (except for a few nippy nights in June and July).

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