The Perfect Weekend on Mozambique Island
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
On my first trip to Mozambique Island I felt like I’d stepped back in time. The streets were lined with beautiful stone buildings built between the 16th and 19th century that illustrate the melding of Arab, Indian and Portuguese influence on the island. Old world dhow boats could be seen from the shore sailing across the crystal blue Indian Ocean. The sounds of laughter echoed off the water as children splashed around and the locals went about their day to day activities. Except for the occasional car or moto that drove by, it was hard to believe I was still living in the 21st century. Certified a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991, Mozambique Island is becoming one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Mozambique and I have put together an itinerary for the perfect weekend getaway on the Ilha (island in Portuguese).
Day 1 is all about exploring the rich history and culture Mozambique Island has to offer. The island itself is not very large as the entire loop of the island is about 7km, so walking anywhere on the island is a breeze. First up is a trip to Fortaleza de Sao Sebastiao (Saint Sebastian Fort). Located at the north end of the island, the Fortaleza is the oldest still standing fort in sub-Saharan Africa and an impressive structure. While touring the fort you will be treated to beautiful views of the Indian Ocean and surrounding islands and be transported back to an age of Portuguese rule. Most of the guides at the fort only speak Portuguese, so if you need a guide who speaks English the team at Rickshaws Pousada e Café can arrange one for you.
The next stop is a tour of the Governor’s Palace Museum. While touring the palace you not only get a deeper understanding of the colonial history but an up-close look at artifacts, furniture, and décor that date back hundreds of years. Ask for James as your tour guide. Not only does he speak English but his wealth of knowledge about the history of the island is astounding. As a giant history nerd, the Palace is definitely one my favorite places to visit on the island.
Just outside the Palace are a group of local vendors, the perfect place to stop for souvenirs. At these stands you will have your pick of beautiful jewelry, colorful clothing, and unique local art (paintings, statues, etc.). There are a number of sunken ships off the coast of the island and over the years items (coins, pieces of plates, sea glass, etc.) from these ships have washed on shore and have been fashioned into incredible pieces of jewelry.
Finally, you will finish the day with a beautiful sunset dinner at Rickshaws Pousada e Café. Rickshaw’s offers delicious food, fantastic service and a soothing atmosphere. I highly recommend ordering the lobster curry and banana flambé, the combination is a decadence that cannot be rivaled.
The second day of your island adventure will be spent on the water. In the morning climb aboard one of Mozambique’s famous dhow boats and cruise on over to neighboring Goa Island. Goa Island is famous for its incredible lighthouse and beautiful isolated beaches. After exploring Goa there are a number of great locations for snorkeling and experiencing the ocean wildlife. While Rickshaws can arrange for you to be taken out by one of the local boat captains, there are a couple of adventure tour companies located on Mozambique Island that can provide you with a more guided boat tour. One of the more popular companies is Ilha Blue.
After a full day on the water I recommend enjoying dinner at Sara’s Place. Located almost dead center in the middle of the island, Sara’s Place gives you the opportunity to sample some of the more traditional Mozambican and Makua dishes and is a wonderful way to wind down an eventful island weekend adventure.