By Charlie Morison. Charlie stayed at Azura Quilalea at the start of the beach part of her honeymoon in Mozambique. She ‘island hopped’ her way from one end of the Quirimbas Archipelago to the other, so is well placed to judge, rank and review the different places.
The ultimate luxury experience in an eco-boutique retreat
Azura Quilalea is gorgeous. For me, easily the most stylish place in the Quirimbas. Thanks in large part to the wonderful taste & interior design talents of Marjolaine Hewlett, the original owner who first developed a lodge on the island, the villas on Quilalea have an inimitable style... just the right size, a simple layout with large double doors that open immediately out onto a spacious veranda, day beds, a parasol and the sea beyond that.
In 2011 management of the island was taken over by the team from Azura Retreats – Azura Retreats run another world class beach lodge a 1000kms further south down the Mozambique Coast, and with Azura’s involvement, good became great... the management and service on the island is now as good as it gets.
There are 9 rooms – divided into ones that get a sunrise, and ones that get a sunset. Ours was a sunset one and – for my money, the side I’d recommend. I thought the sea food dominated menu was consistently delicious, and as well as the gorgeous lounge, bar and swimming pool area – they were lots of secluded spots with daybeds dotted around the island enabling you to escape with a book (and fall asleep on page 2 if you’re me!) – bliss.
Azura Quilalea is a small island. You can walk around it in about 45 minutes. There are 3 main beaches, each between 100 – 200m long, and from an activities point of view the main things you’ll do are scuba diving, snorkelling (both can be done right off the beach) and kayaking. The other activity I’d highly recommend is doing the 45 minute boat trip to Ibo Island and doing a walking tour – it feels like stepping back in time by a couple of hundred years.
Nowadays many hotels and lodges mistake overt luxury for style, the ‘biggest is best’ philosophy. Azura Quilalea is somewhere that gets the balance right, small, stylish, and proud to be so.
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