When it comes to safaris, Africa does it best. A little less known, but still equally outstanding, are its beach escapes. The continent’s eastern coast is dotted with idyllic and intimate hideaways, but here are our top picks.
Thanda Island, Tanzania
Recently voted the World’s Leading Exclusive Private Island by the 2016 World Travel Awards, Thanda Island has just a single luxurious villa (5 Bedrooms) and two rustic Tanzanian bandas, totalling just nine guest bedrooms on the entire island. Thanda island invites you to kick off your shoes and experience a barefoot luxury experience that has been ten years in the making.
Guests also have exclusive use of the Shungi Mbili, its own own marine reserve, which allows for plentiful marine activities including big game fishing, kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkelling and scuba diving. There is also the opportunity to see the sea turtles hatching and the newly borns returning to the sea at the right times of the year.
While the island certainly encourages a Robinson Crusoe philosophy, it certainly does not compromise on creature comforts. Facilities available include (but are certainly not limited to): pizza oven, cigar humidor, copper beach baths, Steinway grand piano and guitars, wine cellar, wireless Bose music amplifier, air-conditioned fully equipped gym, tennis court, jet skis, and a helicopter pad.
Manta Resort, Tanzania
A scheduled charter flight from will take you across bumpy roads (the only way you know you’re getting to a hidden gem) to Manta Resort, on Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Manta Resort likes to do things a little differently: if you are looking for bling you will be disappointed, and if you’re looking for 24/7 connectivity you will similarly be let down. Its ethos is to get back to nature and focus on its stunning marine surroundings, not least epitomised by the Underwater Room (the first of its kind in Africa).
The Room (more like a suite) has a dining and lounge deck at sea level, a rooftop for sunbathing and stargazing, as well as its bedroom 4 metres below the surface allowing you to drift off into slumber alongside the sounds of the sea. A kayak and snorkelling gear are left at your disposal when you arrive, and your meals are delivered by boat at pre-arranged times, giving you ample time to dive into the aquatic environment around you.
But for those that prefer to sleep on solid ground, there is choice between the Standard and Superior Garden Rooms or the Seafront Villas. All the usual suspects are also at hand for a tropical beach holiday: water sports equipment, spa treatments, as well as fresh and sumptuous culinary options. Kayaking, snorkelling and scuba guided excursions can also be booked.
Anantara Medjumbe, Mozambique
Medjumbe Island is far flung, and every bit the far flung luxury retreat you were looking for. Accessible by 45 minute scenic light aircraft transfer from Pemba Airport to Medjumbe Island allows you to soak in the ample views of the bejeweled ocean before landing at an airstrip that is a mere two minute walk away from the resort.
Part of the magnificent Quirimbas Archipelago, and managed by Anantara, the resort and spa has only 12 beachfront villas, and has some of the most breath-taking coral reefs to be discovered on diving or snorkelling excursions. Each villa has a private plunge pool and direct beachfront access – and every tropical island’s must have, a glorious outdoor shower.
A range of water sports, including paddle-boarding, kayaking, wind surfing and water skiing, are on offer. Whale-watching is available (July-October) and so is bird-watching. Spend a lovely evening cruising on a traditional dhow watching sun dip below the horizon and the stars illuminate the night sky.
Azura Benguerra, Mozambique
Understated elegance and eco-luxury is Benguerra’s ethos, Azura’s first boutique retreat in the north-west coast of Benguerra Island in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Azura’s attention to detail has left no stone unturned in the construction of this beautiful lodge, epitomising barefoot luxury at its best. Its position along an quiet and untouched stretch of beach allows guests to truly unwind and relax.
Dip your toes into the water just steps away, which is part of a national park that offers exceptional snorkelling and scuba-diving. Azura has a gold-rated PADI dive centre and also offers catch-and-release deep sea fishing trips.
Each of the 20 Beach Villas at Azura is extremely spacious and features a private pool, King-sized bed with an ensuite bathroom. Attached to every villa is sala with daybed where you can while away your afternoons, knowing your personal butler is never too far away to bring you another ice-cold drink.
Manda Bay, Kenya
Manda Bay is a boutique hotel on the north-western tip of Manda Island, one of the many unspoilt, islands found in the Lamu Archipelago. With just 12 beach cottages, Manda Bay still retains a sense of intimacy for its guests in its incredible attention to detail. All the rooms are spacious, breezy and its verandas just provide the perfect setting for soaking up seaviews.
The calm waters that Manda Bay sits on allow for all the water activities one would associate with a beach destination including jetskiing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, kite surfing, dhow cruises, wind surfing and snorkelling.
Facilities also include a spa, swimming pool and bar, as well as excellent culinary options on the menu.
Contact Ashworth Africa to plan a stay at one of these beach escapes.