Two plane flights, plus a drive and you arrive to this tiny island off the coast of Mozambique in the Bazaruto Archipelago. The former Indigo Bay Hotel was the nicest accommodation on the island when it opened in 2001. In May 2014, the property was touched up and relaunched by Anantara, giving travelers a comfortable base to experience Bazaruto’s natural beauty and local culture. The hotel has its own in-house naturalist and a whip-smart, PADI-certified dive instructor who can take guests snorkeling and diving. The Bazaruto Archipelago has been a national park since 1971 and is home to more than 100 species of coral, four types of whales, sea turtles, mantarays, dolphins, and it boasts the largest population of the rare dugong on the African east coast. In addition to water activities, Anantara can arrange cooking classes, horse riding, dune boarding, and bird watching (Bazaruto is home to 180 species of birds).
But this resort isn’t only for active types. It equally caters to sybarites who are seeking R&R in a remote place. The 44 villas are all spacious and many come with large outdoor patios with dining areas and plunge pools. A highlight is the spa, perched high above the property. Make sure to arrive early and save time after to truly enjoy the views. The resort works closely with the local community, many of whom are employed by the hotel. Guests can visit one of the local villages and observe some of the community projects Anantara helps fund. But the best way to get to know the locals is simply by interacting with the friendly staff.
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Bazaruto is meant for travelers who like to get off the beaten path. The island is the largest and farthest north of the five islands in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago and Anantara is located on the western side. The island still feels wild, with mile-high dunes that drop down into croc-infested lakes on one side of the island and pristine white sand beaches on the other. Guests can take a day-trip to neighbouring Benguerra Island and dine at Azura Retreat or visit Pestana Bazaruto Lodge on the other end of Bazaruto Island if they want a change of scenery for meals. There isn’t much in terms of nightlife, but in a way that’s the point. This is a place to recharge and reconnect with yourself and nature.
Need to Know
Rooms: From $448. 30 beach villas; 14 seaview villas. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. How to get there: Guest arrive to Vilanculos Airport in Mozambique via a direct two-hour flight from Johannesburg with Airlink or via Maputo on Mozambique Airlines. Then it’s a 25-minute island hop to Bazaruto Island from Vilanculos Airport with CR Aviation and a ten-minute drive to the property. Dining options: A plentiful buffet breakfast is served at Golfinho Restaurant. Guests can choose to dine al fresco on the deck overlooking the pool or in the shade of the restaurant, where the walls date back to the early Portuguese traders. Dinner at Golfinho includes local dishes such as Guisado de Caranguejo, a crab stew made with indigenous Bazaruto spices and coconut milk. Tartaruga is the resort’s more casual restaurant with seats on the beach or deck. The food is more familiar, with dishes like lobster fettuccini or a salad of poached prawns, papaya, and avocado. For lunch, the poolside Clube Naval serves pizzas and barbecued lamb chops in a casual atmosphere. But really, Anantara is all about flexibility and the resort’s Dining by Design concept allows guests to request dinner in their villa or a beachfront table under the stars. Spa and gym details: Anantara Bazaruto has enough offerings to tire out the most active traveler. An indoor fitness center is equipped with bikes, treadmills, a rowing machine, a StairMaster, free weights, and circuit equipment. The property also has two tennis courts and a volleyball court. For something more unique, try qolf, an innovative cross between golf and croquet. It’s worth a trip to the spa if only for the views alone. Perched high above the property, the spa has the best sunset views. The facility features five treatment rooms, an ice pool, wet room, hydrotherapy pool, rhassoul chamber (this combines mud and steam), and relaxation areas.
Who's it for: Travelers who like to get off the beaten path and who want “I was there first” bragging rights. You won’t find many American tourists here yet. Anantara is geared toward the social- and eco-minded traveler who seeks out adventure, but also appreciates good food and pampering. It’s also great for adventurous honeymooners. Our favorite rooms: It’s hard to go wrong with any of the rooms. They are all spacious and full of light and have deep soaking tubs. If you’re a beach person who also appreciates privacy, request the Beach Pool Villa, which is located just steps from the beach and is secluded from the rest of the villas. Families should ask for the Deluxe Seaview Pool Villas, which come with two bedrooms, an outdoor dining area, and private plunge pool. Note, while common areas have wifi, not all rooms do. Activities not to miss: Book a boat trip to Paradise Island where you can learn the history of the island, snorkel, and have a seafood lunch prepared by one of Anantara’s chefs.