Vilanculos, a beach town on the mainland known as the 'Gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago' is fast becoming the 'Ipanema of Mozambique'. It's a laid back, superbly situated town, with enough accommodation and restaurants to suit every budget and taste.
Vilanculos is really easy to get to with daily flights from Johannesburg or Kruger Mpumalanga International Airports, making it a great combination with a South African safari.
The main attraction of the area are the stunning islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, with their pristine deserted beaches and world class marine ecosystems. Did you know this is a great place to try and spot big game fish such as manta rays, whale sharks and even dolphins? The archipelago is all about superb diving, castaway beach picnics and island hopping, but you don't have to be staying at one of the high-end luxury lodges on the islands to experience all this.
Not all holiday budgets can cater for a stay in the Bazaruto islands, which is why Vilanculos started developing the mainland coastline which is just a short boat hop away from the archipelago. With numerous 3 star hotels and lodges situated along this coastline, Vilanculos has become a mecca for the more budget conscious traveller.
Nestled alongside the hotels are numerous little restaurants, many offering a truly authentic local dining experience (including cooking classes!), as well as bars and activity centres. There's a lot to keep you occupied during the day, from horse riding or cycling along the beach to city tours and even kite surfing. For those who want to explore beneath the waves there is of course snorkelling and diving, which are even better when combined with some island hopping in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Day trips to the islands can be made either in the traditional sailing dhow or a faster motor boat and are a favourite activity for tourists who want to spend a day in remote tropical paradise. The lodges all provide picnics and snorkelling gear for their guests to live out their Robinson Crusoe fantasy for real.