Despite being located in one of the wildest places on earth, set among the Quirimbas Archipelago in the calm, cyclone free waters off the coast of northern Mozambique, Vamizi offers the definitive experience of barefoot luxury in Africa.
Of all Vamizi’s attractions, its beaches are undeniably one of its greatest, especially as the Lodge and Private Villas are strung loosely along them. At times the sea can be so mirror calm that the silence of a beachcombing walk is not even punctuated by the sound of waves.
There is evidence of Vamizi having been a stopping place for Arab dhows in the 15th century, when the island, then known as Amisa, had a Muslim population and a prolific weaving industry producing a fine fabric known as Maluane cloth. This attracted Portuguese traders. Most of Vamizi’s historic remnants are relics from the Portuguese era including a church, a fort, several wells and a lighthouse.
As well as fabric, Vamizi offered trade in indigo, ivory, timber, manna (an edible gum) and turtle shells. Today the turtle population is protected rather than exploited. The island’s most recent settlers are the owners of an award-winning luxury lodge established in 2005, who have also initiated community projects and a conservation initiative. The Lodge and the Private Villas have attracted guests from all over the world, in search of a rare and authentic wild African island experience.
THE MAIN LODGE
Crusoe invented castaway chic, but Vamizi Island Lodge defines it, with ten impossibly romantic timber villas (known locally as kitalas) strung loosely along one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Simply grand or grandly simple, this lodge is about the more rarefied pleasures of exclusive island life.
IMAGINE WAFTING THROUGH MUSLIN AND FILTERED SUNLIGHT, FLOPPING STRAIGHT FROM YOUR ROOM INTO A PRIVATE OCEAN AND ENJOYING ELEGANT LUNCHES WITH YOUR TOES IN THE SAND…
It’s hard to compete with the perfect desert island, so we don’t. We just take what comes on the breeze, and mould it into a more civilized form.
During the day, there’s the thatched open dining room in the main lodge, or one can take the total desert island approach – alone with a shipwrecked picnic on some deserted beach. Decking a distinctively island table, they serve surf-fresh seafood and other tropical dishes, set off by the sea breaking on the shore just feet away.
EVENINGS ARE A MORE GLAMOROUS AFFAIR, WITH A CASTAWAY TWIST, FUELLED BY GRILLS ON THE BEACH, OR MORE ELABORATE DISHES UNDER LANTERN LIGHT IN THE DINING ROOM.
With cocktails and fine wines at the bar – and acres of cushions and sofas for sitting soft at any point – you might just feel that heaven can wait.
Exclusivity is one of Vamizi Island’s greatest assets and, as the only Lodge on the island, it has the space to spread wide, so each of the ten villas (known locally as kitalas) amply commands its own part of the beach.
The kitalas are airy and generous with a minimum of 170 square metres of timbered floorspace. The cooling sea breezes and lack of mosquitos obviate the need for air conditioning.
Each kitala is stylishly furnished with an open sitting room, a private decking area with sun loungers, an elegant bedroom with rattan-screen walls and folding doors, and a huge bathroom with a large marble walk-in shower and exquisitely carved lattice windows.
You let in or shut out nature to order, no televisions or music systems to disturb the sound of birdsong and sea.
There are three types of kitala – Luxury, Luxury Double and Luxury Family.
Vamizi’s collection of luxury villas has been designed by award-winning South African architects, renowned for their commitment to creative design, sustainable development and responsible tourism, creating a unique style of architecture that draws on the multi-cultural influences of Mozambique.
THE PRIVATE VILLAS ARE PERFECT FOR FAMILY GROUPS, FRIENDS TRAVELLING TOGETHER OR EVEN COUPLES WANTING THEIR OWN PRIVATE HIDEAWAY.
Each villa is uniquely designed in its own elegant style with en-suite bedrooms, spectacular drawing and dining rooms, and peaceful lounging spaces around private pools or the beach. The private chef and personal hospitality team will ensure all needs are met, from tailor-made menus to organising fishing and diving, spa treatments or dhow sailing trips.
KIPILA PRIVATE VILLA
Kipila (meaning ‘plover’ in Kimwani) is a 5 bedroom private villa, sleeping up to 12 people. Set within 3 acres of grounds and with over 125 metres of pristine beachfront it offers the ultimate in exclusivity. There are 4 en-suite double/twin rooms, 1 children’s rooms that sleeps up to 6 including the nannie’s room.
The rooms are all sea-facing, with private decking and intimate pathways leading to the beach. The communal area consists of a spacious lounge and dining room with ample hardwood decking and a swimming pool. Above the dining room is a children’s games room with table-tennis, TV, books and board games. A tower, inspired by the Portuguese lighthouse on Vamizi, offers spectacular views across the ocean; the perfect setting for a sun-downer.
Kipila has a pitched ‘Balinese-style’ timber shingle roof with high ceilings in all of the rooms. The bathrooms epitomise outdoor living with elegant gardens set within them. Kipila is staffed with a private chef and hospitality team and has its own 4×4 car with driver. An array of sailing boats and kayaks are available for guests along with fishing, diving, nature walks, community visits and picnics.
SULUWILO PRIVATE VILLA
Suluwilo (meaning ‘forest weaver’ in Kimwani) is a 5 bedroom private villa, sleeping up to 12 people. It lies within 3 acres of forest along a pristine white beach. There are 4 en-suite double/twin rooms and 2 children’s rooms (2 bunks in 1 room and 2 single beds in the other).
One of the double/twin rooms is at first floor level with its own balcony, whilst the rest are on ground level with private decking and intimate pathways leading to the beach. The communal area consists of a spacious lounge and dining room that opens onto hardwood decking and a swimming pool.
There is also a sunken Arab courtyard and a ‘lookout’ tower with spectacular views across the ocean. A beach gazebo offers the perfect setting for beach barbeques and a children’s games room with table-tennis, TV, books and board games sits above the dining room. Suluwilo’s real charm is in the ‘dhow sail’ roofs, inspired by the traditional dhow fishing boats in the area. The palm thatched roofs are carefully angled to catch the sea breezes, keeping the villa cool and fresh throughout the year.
The villa is staffed with a private chef and hospitality team and has its own 4×4 car with driver. An array of sailing boats and kayaks are available to its guests along with fishing, diving, nature walks, community visits and picnics.
CASAMINA PRIVATE VILLA
Casamina is a 6 bedroom private villa, sleeping up to 8 adults and 8 children. It lies within 3 acres of forest and has over 125 metres of pristine beachfront offering absolute exclusivity and privacy. Three of the en-suite double/twin rooms are sea-facing with another set-back in a ‘tree house’. The children’s’ accommodation consists of 2 separate rooms, each with 2 sets of bunks, and a shared bathroom. The communal area, a split-level living, dining area and bar, is covered by an impressive thatch roof with open sides offering spectacular views of the ocean, and leading to the swimming pool.
There are unobstructed views of the island from the top of the tower, the perfect setting for breakfast, and a games room with TV, books and board games just below. A study room on stilts is nestled behind the master bedroom. The local coral limestone walls have been handcrafted and are a distinctive feature of this beautiful villa along with the spiral stairs leading up to the tree house.
Casamina is staffed with a private chef and hospitality team and has its own 4×4 car with driver. An array of sailing boats and kayaks are available for guests along with fishing, diving, nature walks, community visits and picnics.
CASA MARJANI PRIVATE VILLA
Casa Marjani, marjani meaning ‘coral’ in Kimwani, is a 5 bedroom private villa, sleeping up to 6 adults and 6 children. It lies within 4.7 acres of forest and has over 130 metres of pristine beachfront offering absolute exclusivity and privacy. The master bedroom has a magnificent view of the ocean, its own private pocket beach and an en-suite bathroom complete with walk-in shower. Bedroom 2 is also sea facing with its own deck leading down to the beach and an en-suite bathroom with walk in shower. There are 2 children bedrooms set back into the forest, both with en-suite bathrooms, and a spectacular elevated ‘tree house’ bedroom also with en-suite bathroom.
The main living area has a striking palm thatch roof and open sides. Its decking flows into the landscaped gardens offering the perfect outdoor dining setting with beautiful views of the ocean. A mezzanine level within the main living area offers the perfect hideaway with comfortable futons and bean bags.
There is an elevated study behind the master bedroom and an open courtyard complete with swinging chairs and hammocks just behind the main living area. The tower, adorned with star gazing chairs, offers uninterrupted views across the island and up to the night sky. Also set within the tower is a children’s room with TV and books and games. A beach gazebo, simply designed with a traditional dhow sail for shade, offers the perfect setting for relaxing on the beach.
Casa Marjani is staffed with a private chef and hospitality team and has its own 4×4 car with driver. An array of sailing boats and kayaks are available to its guests along with fishing, diving, nature walks, community visits and castaway picnics.
On the surface, Vamizi Island is utterly mellow. Go a few feet below and everything changes, as the Vamizi seas – which residents share with no other tourists – are bristling with big ocean action.
SOME OF THE DIVES HERE ARE SAID TO BE THE BEST IN THE WORLD AND THE DEEP SEA FISHING IS EXHILARATING.
But this is only part of the story… Snorkelling trips, castaway picnics, whale watching expeditions, kayak trips up the estuary, traditional dhow sunset cruises, nature walks, community visits and miles of beaches are waiting to be explored… keeping even the most active souls happy.
Vamizi’s waters contain a plethora of marine life and have been deemed one of the healthiest coral reef eco-systems in the world. A combination of wild underwater landscapes, the bounty of tropical ocean currents and an abundance of aquatic life, makes Vamizi a truly world class diving holiday destination. A survey carried out identified 46 genera of coral species with more than 400 species of fish. This number, according to studies carried out by scientists on Vamizi, represents over half the number of reef-associated species for the whole of Mozambique.
All year round, in water temperatures ranging between 25-29 degrees, Vamizi’s many dive sites provide spectacular diving. There are more dive sites being discovered all the time, catering for all diving abilities from the novice to the experienced diver and Vamizi’s PADI divemasters and instructors are always on hand to guide or teach. One particular Vamizi site, Neptune’s Arm, where coral gardens tumble down the edge of a sheer cliff so crowded with fish you can hardly see the view, has been named as one of the top ten dive sites on the planet.