Island Style Holidays in Africa

The stunning white beaches and blue waters of the Bazaruto Islands.

© Shutterstock


The stunning white beaches and blue waters of the Bazaruto Islands.

© Shutterstock Island Style Holidays in Africa While Mauritius, Zanzibar and the Seychelles may already be on your holiday hit list, these five islands off the African coast offer unforgettable escapes a little off the beaten track.

Bazaruto Archipelago

If you’ve always wanted to discover Mozambique’s 2,400 kilometres of coastline, look no further than the protected waters of the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, reached via an easy direct flight from Johannesburg. The coast here offers a wonderful array of lodges and resorts, from family-friendly Anantara Bazaruto to the design-led charms and sustainability credentials of Sussurro. Heading off on honeymoon? You’ll love the luxury at andBeyond Benguerra Island, where private pools and butler service are standard.

São Tomé and Príncipe

Cast adrift in the equatorial Gulf of Guinea – but easily reached via Accra – the volcanic islands of São Tomé and Príncipe make up the second-smallest country in Africa. They remain one of the unsung beauties of the continent with lush rainforests tumbling into tropical waters, offering memorable hiking, bird watching and scuba diving. The region is a proclaimed UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with these islands often dubbed the ‘Galapagos of Africa’ for their remarkable number of endemic species. Beyond their natural beauty, there’s also a fascinating history to discover, from their pivotal role in the slave trade to their former position as the world’s largest producer of cacao; a history still celebrated today by artisan chocolatiers.  


Dust off your school French lessons for a taste of France in the tropics. Reunion may still be an overseas department of France (so you’ll be spending euros), but on arrival you’ll be met with Creole warmth rather than a Gallic shrug. It’s an island built by volcanoes, which deliver plenty of dramatic landscapes as forested mountain slopes tumble towards black-sand beaches and turquoise seas. The 2,631-metre Piton de la Fournaise remains an active volcano, while the extinct calderas of the Rempart de Bellecombe offers superb hiking, biking and canyoning adventures.


If you’re tired of the crowded beaches of Mauritius, hop on a domestic flight into the bright blue yonder. Some 600-kilometres to the east you’ll touch down on the idyllic island of Rodrigues. It’s a slip of land untouched by mass tourism, trading super-sized resorts and crowded highways for winding coastal tracks and amiable family-run gîtes. The steady trade winds and calm waters of the wide coral lagoon – triple the size of the island itself – have made it a haven for savvy kite-surfers, but that’s not the most memorable day on the water. Instead, hire a local fisherman to take you out into the lagoon stopping at one of the 20 protected islands to discover the abundant bird life. For a taste of low-key island life, Rodrigues is the ticket.


This atmospheric island on Kenya’s northern coast is the perfect way to wind down after a Maasai Mara safari adventure. With its rich trading history and centuries-old Swahili settlements, it’s an island brimming with charm, character and local culture. To soak up the history wander down winding stone alleyways, admiring the hand-carved doors shipped in by Omani traders, or set sail at sunset on a traditional lateen-rigged dhow.

Need some vitamin D? The 12-kilometre sweep of Shela beach offers plenty of quiet spaces to lay your towel. But Lamu is also being swept along by a wave of design-conscious travellers, and the island now boasts chic boutique hotels offering mixology hours, yoga classes and writing retreats. Not sure where to stay? The family-run Peponi Hotel has been a stalwart of the coast here since 1967, and offers the best of both worlds.