Finding paradise in undiscovered Mozambique

Idyllic Indian Ocean without the crowds? Rosa Doherty skips the usual honeymoon escapes to discover Mozambique


Perfect white sand beaches, the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, a boutique hotel that mixes luxury with a barefoot atmosphere. What could be more idyllic?

But this particular paradise isn’t the Maldives, Mauritius or the Seychelles; it’s little discovered Mozambique.

With two enchanting archipelagos along its coastline — Quirimbas in the north, and Bazaruto in the south — and 1,500 miles of beach, it seems only a matter of time before ‘Africa’s Riviera’ becomes a destination in its own right. And looking for somewhere to unwind after my honeymoon safari in Botswana, I was instantly tempted.

Emerging as one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Mozambique is still recovering from the effects of its 16-year civil war which ended in 1992, after gaining independence from Portugal. But the discovery of gas fields off Mozambique’s coast in 2011 has already boosted business travel and inspired a new-found optimism in the tourism sector.

Nowhere is that plainer than the Diamonds Mequfi Beach Resort, in Pemba, in the country’s north. With its own long stretch of beach, it’s the perfect place to escape and enjoy the unspoiled nature without having to leave luxury behind.

You can fly direct to Maputo, the capital, from Johannesburg, before an overnight stay and the journey on to Pemba. Unfortunately, it was only in the Johannesburg Airport lounge when it dawned on me that after organising a wedding and our complicated trip — including a safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta — that I had forgotten to book a room for our stopover in Maputo.

Thankfully the internet connection worked well enough to avert the crisis with a last-minute booking, and having survived our potential first disaster as a married couple, I felt I should be forgiven for forgetting that one small detail.

“At least no one had been eaten by a lion,” I joked.

But after an interesting night in Maputo, I was more than ready for our flight to Pemba and a week in a luxury beach resort. Two and a half hours later, we were greeted in arrivals by the hotel concierge who was waiting with a cold face towel.

Then we sat in anticipation throughout the 50 minutes’ drive to the hotel, taking in the sights of the busy town where pickup trucks overflowing with people somehow stopped to pick up yet more.

Once off the main road, a bumpy track led straight to paradise — where finally, behind the great white gates of Diamonds Mequfi Beach Resort, General Manager Jose and his team were waiting.

Surrounded by baobab trees, the iconic tree of the African savannah, famous for its thick trunk and root like branches, the hotel sits at the edge of the Mecufi village.

We were welcomed with a glass of something colourful and left to relax in the open plan reception, which sits at the top of the resort and looks down on the pool and beach.

Then one final journey after we were checked in, as we were picked up by a golf buggy which drove us to one of the resort’s 10 suites. We pulled up to our whitewashed beach bungalow, secluded from its neighbours, ready to relax.

With a terrace looking out onto the ocean, and locally inspired touches in the suite’s décor, not only could you relax on your own sun lounger facing the sea, but there was also a comfy outdoor sofa and dining table under the shade. Perfect if one of you prefers to sun worship while the other is more of a bookworm.

The four-poster bed with white drapes was the most comfortable and spacious I have ever slept in. And the turn down service, which included a cup of lemon grass tea and a biscuit, has left me with a difficult real world adjustment.

The suite’s outdoor showers were a nice touch too, and more practically, meant that you could wash the sand off your toes and avoid walking it though the apartment — or even worse getting it in your bed.

It is no wonder Diamonds was a winner in two categories of the 2016 World Travel Awards. They have really thought of everything, right down to a dedicated action movie channel available on the flat screen televisions in the living room and bedroom.

Our suite was only a stone’s throw away from the pool and the resort’s restaurants, of which there are three, but if you’re feeling lazy, a call to reception is all you need for a golf buggy to arrive to whisk you to where you would like to be.

We spent our days cooling off in the freshwater outdoor pool, which was nearly always empty, and eating our way round the different restaurants. The food was delicious and there is plenty of choice, including fish and vegetarian dishes.

When by the pool, you literally didn’t have to lift a finger. Banana and Perito got to know our order and we were greeted with an iced coffee every morning. Come the afternoon they were keen to show off their cocktail making skills.

And Astian, the restaurant manager, went out of his way to make our trip special. He was always on hand to tailor make the experience to suit us. If over breakfast we mentioned we’d like something special for dinner then it was done. After I mentioned in passing that I love sushi, they even got the chef to prepare a plate one evening.

There’s no stuffy atmosphere, and no request seems too much for the laid-back, friendly staff. By the end of the week, we were on a first names basis, and genuinely sad to leave.

The whole resort has been created to help you unwind and it doesn’t get more relaxing than horseback riding on the beach, followed by a 90 minute massage, one of the indulgent treatments at the Mvua African Rain SPA.

Don’t be mistaken into thinking that this is the kind of place you could get bored either. If relaxing all day is not for you, guests can try surfing , windsurfing, kitesurfing, and canoeing. And if you’re feeling guilty about overindulging, then Amir, the sports manager, is on hand to get you in the water for aerobics — an entertaining activity if nothing else.

Probably the most zen offering at the resort is sunrise yoga by the pool. I am not going to lie and say I got up early to do it, but I can only imagine it would have been wonderful.

This is one of those magical places you want to keep all to yourself. I fear it’s probably too late for that — so don’t wait too long to discover it for yourself.


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