For many of us, paradise equals sunshine, sand, and surf. Cocktails and sunsets are an added bonus. Sun seekers typically head to the Caribbean or Southeast Asia for such pleasures, but if you really want a sublime beachside experiences, and especially one where you’re likely to have the beach to yourself, you need to consider Africa. Madagascar alone has more than 4,000 km of coastline; and South Africa has beaches stretching along both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.
Conde Nast has rated Zanzibar’s Bwejuu – Paje Beach as one of the 30 best beaches in the world. So isn’t it time you went? You can walk from the beach out onto the reef wearing special reef shoes which wont damage the coral, snorkel beneath the waves to spot the marine life, and sail, kayak, or surf along the coast to fully appreciate its unspoilt beauty. The Baraza Resort is inspired by Zanzibar’s mixed cultural heritage: it’s a fusion of Arabic, Swahili, and Indian design, complimented by world class service.
Have you ever dreamed of staying on a private island? Now is your chance. Quilalea Private Island is just off the coast of Mozambique. It’s uninhabited, and completely surrounded by the Quirimbas Archipelago Marine Sanctuary, so unrivalled in peace and privacy. You can dive straight from the main beach, kayak through the mangroves, or lie lazily in a hammock strung between two giant baobab trees. The island is available for exclusive use, in which case you’ll have nine villas and 86 acres of island to yourself. Only the birds — of which there are 60 different species — will disturb you. Robinson Crusoe, eat your heart out.
Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius
Luxury and fine design are seamlessly blended at Le Prince Maurice on the eastern coast of Mauritius. The pristine beach lined with shade-giving palm trees surrounds a rocky island in a small archipelago. Wooden jetties link the islands, and you can sit out over the water on the veranda of your thatched beach villa, created with feng shui principles in mind. It’s one of the few places in the world where the golf course runs down to the beach (watch out for your balls!), and when it comes to the time to cool down, you can swim in both the pool and the lagoon.
Mumbo Island, Malawi
It probably hasn’t occurred to you to seek out a beach in a landlocked country. But Lake Malawi is a vast area, a national park filled with islands and plenty of sandy beaches. Mumbo Island is without doubt the most exclusive retreat: just 14 guests can stay at any one time, and it is rated as one of the most sustainable lodges in Africa. In the calm, clear waters of the lake you can enjoy some of the best fresh water snorkelling and diving in the world. Comfortable tents are built on wooden decks out over the rocky cliffs, with views across the water. Walk down onto the beach to swim, or pick up a kayak and paddle your way around the island, spotting sea eagle and fish as you go.
North Island, Seychelles
OK, so you might actually have heard of North Island: it’s the most exclusive property in the Seychelles. But we’re including it in our list of African beach paradises because the levels of luxury, of privacy, and of style challenge preconceptions of what Africa has to offer. You won’t find a more stunning spot. Take a guided walk along the shoreline, and your guide will tell you about the Noah’s Ark Island rehabilitation programme, the means by which turtle and other native wildlife are being protected. Sail out into the crystal clear waters to fish. Catch your own supper, then let the chefs cook it for you on the beach as you watch the sunset with a glass of cold white wine in hand.
Laura Burdett-Munns is Managing Director at Africa Exclusive.
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