There should be a rule that all island dreams must feature Benguerra Island.
The second largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, only 2.5 miles (14 km and a quick helicopter trip from Vilanculos)off the coast of Mozambique, Benguerra has a lot of tropical wonder going for it.
Not only is it set within a canopy of indigenous casuarina pine forest and a protected marine conservation area, but it is also surrounded by idyllic beaches and pristine coral reefs. A deep lagoon is set apart from the tides, and the lodge features a rim flow swimming pool, making the island waters perfect for all members of the family to enjoy.
Whether your dream includes lazy swimming, the excitement of snorkeling or the adventure of diving, a variety of marine life, including the exceedingly rare dugong, awaits. In the Mozambique Channel, game fish might play a match of catch-and-release with you.
And then there are the horses and the dhows, the catamaran cruises and the castaway picnics.
Followed by incredible, lantern-lit meals accompanied by crisp, cold cocktails… and maybe a massage.
If you can bear to turn your back on the ocean for a spell, the interior of the island holds even more treasure. The island is comprised of forest, savannah and a wetland ecosystem. Magnificent sand dunes, inland lakes filled with flamingos and another 139 odd bird species, as well as freshwater crocodiles add a frisson of beauty and excitement. It has been a National Park since 1971.
But, the number one reason for our Benguerra love affair.
Benguerra is fabulously environmentally conscious. An eco-retreat that partners with Oceans Without Borders, the lodge funds marine patrols and aerial surveillance programs. The local islanders are also given assistance with establishing alternative food sources and livelihoods. This reduces dependency on ocean resources whilst honoring fishing as a defining island tradition with an emphasis on more abundant species. The local fishermen are also employed to accompany guests on catch and release excursions.
As an Africa Foundation partner, the lodge plants vegetable gardens has built a community center, distributed safe lighting sources to prevent fires and relocated fresh water wells closer to the main village.
There is an annual lodge-sponsored internship program to prepare young people for future employment. If they choose to stay within the archipelago they have a good chance of local employment as the lodge hire nearly 95% of all their staff from the island.
Why you should Indulge in the Island Idyll
Obviously, you will be doing this wherever you go… but sea air is enriched with tiny droplets of water that deliver salt, iodine, magnesium and trace elements. These surf-generated aerosols are scattered into the air by wind and waves and accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen. Negative ions also balance levels of serotonin, a body chemical linked with mood and stress.
Taking the benefits of seawater a step further, swimming in water filled with vital elements, vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, amino acids and living microorganisms that can produce antibiotic and antibacterial effects is guaranteed to help promote a healthy immune system. Swimming in the sea will improve circulation by restoring essential minerals depleted by stress, a poor diet, and environmental poisons. Magnesium-rich seawater can also relax your muscles, reduce stress and help induce sleep. Magnesium depresses nerves to relieve nervous irritability for an increased sense of calmness. It will also help hydrate and improve the appearance of your skin!
Get up and go
Somehow, it is always easier to be a little more active next to the sea. Whether you simply take some gentle walks or splash a bit. You might not even notice that you are exercising.
No rushing allowed. No cleaning. No chores. No meetings.
Some sun exposure will improve your sense of physical and emotional wellbeing. Vitamin D helps your body to make good use of phosphorus and calcium, promoting strong bones and cell division.
For many of us, this might be the big prize: All those other benefits are almost guaranteed to lead to improved sleep.
Snorkel or scuba and swim with dolphins, whale sharks, and the elusive dugong.
Take a helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view of Benguerra’s swirling shoals.
Wrangle denizens of the deep—from black marlin to sailfish and giant trevally—on a thrilling catch-and-release fishing expedition.
Go on an inland adventure to scale sky-high sand dunes and encounter flamingos wading in freshwater lakes.
Saddle up one of the lodge’s rescue horses and gallop along golden sands at sunset.
Your accommodation answers to an Afrochic-Portuguese ethos that’s distinct to Mozambique—thatched roofs, terra-cotta tiles, canopied beds, private pools, and inviting verandas. A beachy palette of copper and cream is enlivened with royal blue accents that mimic the startlingly electric shade of the waters beyond.