Vilanculos is probably Mozambique’s fastest-growing and most bustling beach holiday town, a jumbled network of half-sealed, half-sandy streets on a typically lovely ribbon of coastline.
With a small but international airport that sees daily flights from South Africa, it’s popular with luxury fly-in visitors and backpackers.
Though Vilanculos has gorgeous beaches and is a much-loved destination, the town also serves as the perfect gateway for a Bazaruto islands holiday.
Credit: Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel
This stunning, protected archipelago beckons, just a lazy dhow-ride offshore. There’s a huge diversity of more affordable accommodations in town for those who can’t quite manage the ultra-luxury lodges on the islands.
Day trips to the nearby reefs are arguably Vilanculos’ major draw – the diving and snorkeling are simply some of the best in East Africa.
Two Mile Reef, in particular, is an absolute must when visiting Vilanculos, and from July to November, you may see humpback whales cruising by underwater.
Even if you miss them, you’ll almost certainly hear their haunting songs as a myriad of bright fish flash by, along with rays, turtles, and perhaps even a whale shark.
Credit: Santorini Mozambique
Big-game fishing is also hugely popular off Vilanculos, as marlin, sailfish, barracuda, and tuna all frequent these waters.
With its wide range of Vilanculos resorts, barefoot bars, and palm-fringed beaches, there’s something for everyone in what remains a laid-back, uncrowded holiday town.
- Daily flights from Johannesburg and Nelspruit make travel arrangements easy. Nelspruit lies on the southern border of the Kruger National Park, and with a flight time of only an hour and 10 minutes, it’s easy to combine South Africa’s most famous wildlife park with a beach holiday.
- There are banks in Vilanculos, a pharmacy and a private hospital, and a couple of well-stocked supermarkets if you’re booking a self-catering villa.
- Before you leave, check out the two main central markets, where you’ll find an excellent selection of local handicrafts and souvenirs.