#AfriTravel: These are Africa’s top private islands - and they’re pretty accessible for South Africans

2018-06-27 21:00
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(Photo: ThandaIsland.com)

Africa is a continent blessed with the most beautiful landscapes and natural wonders and scenery on the planet. From the savannas, snow-capped mountain peaks, thick, lush jungles, tranquil barren desertscapes to blissful beaches - Africa has it all and more. Oft overlooked, however, in favour of Indian and Pacific ocean destinations are the beautiful islands that are a part of this great continent.

These experiences and attractions have earned the following islands a nomination in the 2018 World Travel Awards in the category Africa’s Leading Luxury Island 2018. The awards, which serve as benchmarks of travel industry excellence, rewards the best facilities, businesses and destinations across sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

The public can vote for the nominees until midnight on 19 August. The Africa and Indian Ocean segment of the Awards ceremony is set to take place in Durban, for the third time, on 6 October.

Other nominees for the title of leading luxury island emanate from all corners of the continent and irrespective of which island wins the award, they all prove that Africa is abound with natural beauty and heritage that the world needs to see and experience.

Take a look at the nominated islands that prove why an #AfriTravel island adventure should be high on your agenda.

&Beyond Mnemba Island

South African travellers needn’t go too far to enjoy an excellent island holiday. Three kilometres off of the north-east coast of Unguja, the largest island of the Zanzibar Archipelago in Tanzania, lies &Beyond Mnemba Island. A nominee for the World Travel Awards title of Africa’s Leading Luxury Island 2018, this tiny island (only 500 metres in diameter and 1.5 kilometres in circumference) is surrounded by reefs that have been declared a marine conservation area. This makes the island particularly suited to adventurous travellers looking to enjoy some underwater exploration with its extensive variety of corals and Indian Ocean marine life. Some of the marine wildlife that visitors to the island might encounter include green turtles, dolphins, whale sharks, humpback whales (depending on the season) and roughly 600 species of coral reef fish.

This private island is also the perfect getaway for travellers looking to enjoy a luxurious, exclusive and secluded island experience in Africa. With only 24 guests at a time, there will be no rush to find a space at one of the many activities on offer. These activities include snorkelling, kayaking, massages on the beach, dhow cruises, birdwatching and pretty much whatever else you’d like to do on a small, secluded island.

Travellers to &Beyond Mnemba Island can look forward to enjoying fresh seafood and fruit under thatched dining areas with incredible views of the beach and ocean. With your own stretch of beachfront, you can enjoy the unblemished sands and balmy waters in this unpretentious island paradise to your heart’s content. So kick off your shoes, breathe in deep and relax.

SEE: #AfriTravel: Flying to Zanzibar just got cheaper after government decides to drop airport levies

Anatara Medjumbe Island Resort

Along the Mozambican coastline, you will find the second African island that has been nominated for the Africa’s Leading Luxury Island 2018 award. Comprising 32 idyllic islands, the Quirimbas Archipelago is host to a vast array of amazing experiences for travellers to enjoy. With high quality, low impact resorts working in conjunction with local communities, visitors to these islands can enjoy the assorted offerings with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that doing so comes with very little cost.

Of particular note is the Anatara Medjumbe Island Resort. Situated 130 kilometres north of Pemba, the tiny, privately-owned, island of Medjumbe is less than a kilometre long and less than half as wide. What it lacks for in size, the island makes up for in the luxurious seclusion it affords visitors. With pristine powdery white beaches, turquoise waters and an abundance of marine life and aquatic adventures for visitors to see and enjoy, there are more than enough ways to enjoy one of Africa’s leading luxury islands.

The Quirimbas Archipelago is one of the best places in the world to go diving, snorkelling, yachting and, especially, fishing. With crystal clear, consistently warm tropical waters, adventurous travellers can explore and appreciate pristine marine environments - with eels, stingrays and a few turtle species frequently spotted - as well as take to the surface and try their hands at big game fishing in the deep waters just off the island. If catching Kingfish, Barracuda, Sierra, Yellowfin Tuna and more sounds like your idea of a good time then look no further than Anatara Medjumbe Island Resort.

If you’re not in the mood to get into the water, there are plenty of land-based activities to keep you occupied such as beach walks, spa treatments, massages, facials and barside fun. No matter what you decide to do with your time on Medjumbe Island, be sure to settle into the tranquil luxury of being on a secluded island where white sand, turquoise water and golden sun is the daily routine.

MUST SEE: Quick Guide to Mozambique: Visa-free travel for South Africans

Azura Quilalea Private Island

Another hidden African gem, the Azura Quilalea Private Island in Mozambique is an ideal place if you’re searching for a tranquil escape to a beautiful location. Offering something akin to a luxurious ‘castaway’ lifestyle, this is understandably one of Africa’s leading luxury islands.

This uninhabited island is surrounded by the clear, balmy turquoise waters that characterises much of the Quirimbas Archipelago. Travellers can expect to be able to enjoy an assortment of aquatic activities including snorkelling, helicopter tours, turtle sightings, guided night snorkelling, stargazing, kayaking, sunset dhow cruises, fishing, scuba diving and more. As the only island in Mozambique with a house reef accessible directly from the main beach, this is an excellent place to do some marine life viewing. If that all sounds like too much adventure for you to handle then why not chill out in a hammock in the shade of a baobabs, take a walk on the beach, chill out by the bar, get a massage or do some birdwatching with some 180 species of migratory birds passing through the island.  

With a tropical climate that sees the island experience consistently balmy weather and warm waters, this infinitely welcoming island is unlikely to disappoint with unfavourable weather conditions. So head on down to Azura Quilalea Private Island and enjoy one of Africa’s leading luxury islands.  

SEE MORE AZURA: Drinking champagne in a fenceless Tanzanian lodge where lions roam around your villa

Thanda Island

Another tiny island on the list of Africa’s leading luxury islands is Tanzania’s Thanda Island situated in the Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve. At only 1.1 kilometres in circumference and just over a third of that that in width, it is understandably known to only but the most read-up traveller.  A mere 30 kilometres off of the mainland of Tanzania, it is easily accessible by helicopter or boat.

Buffered against big waves and rough seas by the surrounding coral reefs, Thanda Island is a space where conservation is taken very seriously, a fact that they are very proud of. With warm, turquoise waters teeming with life, the island makes for an excellent location from which to dive into the deep blue and explore. Whale sharks, turtles, dolphins, numerous coral fish species and more await.

This secluded, exclusive island certainly does not lack for terrestrial entertainment options either. With a full-sized tennis court, why not consider working on your backswing in the privacy of what seems to be your own little island paradise? With nightlights on the courts, visitors can enjoy some tennis or volleyball at night too. Alternatively, check out the bird life on the island by going on the Thanda Island Egret Walk which takes visitors through the bush onto a sand trail to see the Egrets that call the island home. That being said, visitors to the island are largely left to their own devices so if just milling about the beach, or just hanging out away from the hustle and bustle of modern life sounds like what you need then look no further.

MUST SEE: Quick Guide to Tanzania: Visa-Free travel for South Africans