Africa may be king of the safari but its beaches are just as spectacular. Whether you’re looking for honeymoon bliss or a post-safari sanctuary, there’s a slice of paradisical sand with your name on it. From spice-scented Zanzibar to the wild dunes of Mozambique, here are some of the best beaches in Africa for sun-drenched relaxation.
Zanzibar: land of spices, ivory beaches and translucent waters. Come to lie on palm-lined sands, often voted some of the world’s best, where dhow boats sail the ocean and divers discover marine treasures. This romantic archipelago lies just 22 miles off the east coast of Africa, a short flight from both Kenya and Tanzania, making it the perfect place to unwind before or after a safari. An itinerary like our Bush, Beach and Culture tour bookends stays in Zanzibar with a visit to Tanzania’s unspoilt Nyerere National Park.
On the southeast coast of Zanzibar, Bwejuu Beach is loved for its gentle waves and quiet vibe, home to the lavish Baraza Resort & Spa and the warm hospitality of Breezes Beach Club and Spa which blends into the tropical landscape with its Swahili thatched roofs. Nearby Paje is a magnet for kite surfers thanks to its strong winds and miles of bone-coloured beach. Built by a passionate kite surfer, Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas and Spa offers oceanfront pool villas right on Paje. Head to the west coast for sunsets at Kendwa Beach, where the mild tide is great for bathing and snorkelling; popular resorts here include Zuri Zanzibar and Gold Zanzibar.
Part of the Zanzibar group, Pemba is the place to come if you’re looking for far-flung beaches. This lesser-visited island retains an authentic Swahili feel, home to a devoutly Muslim population, scores of fishermen and witchdoctors who mix herbal medicines. Named the Green Island by ancient traders, Pemba’s hillsides are covered with exotic fruit and spices including its cloves – the island grows the largest supply on the planet. In Pemba, ox-drawn carts traverse the roads and tourists are so scarce that locals will greet you warmly with a wave when you pass.
Pemba’s beaches are just as untamed, blessed with merely a handful of tranquil, boutique getaways. For real Robinson Crusoe barefoot luxury, book a stay at Fundu Lagoon. Located on an isolated bay, it’s the only beach lodge in east Africa with chic tents, which are set on wooden platforms in the forest beneath traditional Makuti roofs. The Misali Island Marine Conservation Area sits just opposite the resort and offers world-class diving, with a pristine reef and thousands of dive sites including wrecks and coral reef walls where you can spot turtles and tropical fish.
You may be drawn to South-Africa’s safari hotspots and vibrant cities but it’s also the perfect beach destination. In Cape Town, you can combine urban sightseeing with afternoons at Camps Bays and the four Clifton beaches, which are lined with trendy bars and restaurants; city hotels like Pepperclub run shuttle services to Camps Bay. A winding road clings to the coast as you head west along the Cape, fringed with dramatic beaches and coves. The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa lies on one of the most scenic stretches with views of Table Mountain and the Apostles range – there’s even a seal colony on its shore.
The beaches get ever-more incredible as you journey along the Garden Route, with cliff-lined coasts and huge waves. Stop in Plettenberg Bay for rugged beaches in marine reserves, where you can take boat trips to encounter whales, dolphins and Cape fur seals. The Plettenberg is the bay’s most iconic hotel and has direct access to a Blue Flag beach. If you’re exploring the other side of South Africa on a KwaZulu-Natal bush, beach & battlefields self-drive, you’ll enjoy Indian Ocean beaches near Durban at resorts like Oyster Box, which has lighthouse vistas.
For a slice of remote beach life, explore Mozambique. This off-the-grid destination is loved by honeymooners for its sparkling lagoons and vast sands backed by rippling dunes and exclusive resorts. Start with a speed-boat ride from Maputo to the Machangulo peninsula, where forests lead to peaceful beaches and fishing villages. Protected by the Machangulo Reserve, you can spend days here basking on pillowy sands or snorkelling among rainbow fish, spotting turtles, dolphins and even rare dugongs. Machangulo Beach Lodge is a dream base, set on top of a dune overlooking the sugary coastline.
Over on Mozambique’s Bazaruto archipelago, sandbars protrude into the ocean and hawksbill turtles nest on deserted shores that blend into colossal dunes. The southern beaches here are particularly staggering, stretching as far as the eye can see. Anantara Bazaruto is the only hotel on the island and offers dune views and leisurely sailing trips to a secluded sandbank. With two-hour direct flights from South Africa, Mozambique is ideal for a safari-beach combo trip.
There’s more to Kenya than safari. Its south-east coast is laced with powdery beaches where camels plod along the sand. These shores have attracted traders for centuries, evidenced in the historic city of Mombasa with its cliff-top forts and maze-like alleyways. South of Mombasa, set between the white sands of Galu Beach and ancient forest filled with birdlife and monkeys, you’ll find Kinondo Kwetu. This boutique beach resort is located 2km from the nearest hotel, so you can soak up picture perfect Indian Ocean views in peace.
Venture north from Mombasa and you’ll reach Malindi and Watamu. Set in a protected park, the area is a haven for turtles, 600 species of fish and the Marine Big Five: dolphins, whales, sharks, sea turtles and billfish. Hemingways Watamu, which is named after the famous writer who established a camp here in the 1930s, sits right on the coveted beachfront within this UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve. Tag on a post-safari trip to the Kenyan coast with an itinerary like our Kenya bush and beach or Amboseli, Tsavo and beach options.
According to Mark Twain: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven”. It’s hard to disagree when you set eyes on the island’s azure waters and palm-lined beaches. Part of the Mascarene Islands volcanic chain, Mauritius is famed not only for its beaches but its biodiverse forests with towering ebony trees. Its waters are surrounded by the third-largest coral reef on earth, meaning divers and snorkellers flock here to see a kaleidoscope of underwater life. Stay at the Oberoi Mauritius to be right at the heart of Turtle Bay, one of the country’s two marine parks.
You can’t go wrong with any of the beaches in Mauritius but popular haunts include Flic-en-Flac in the west and Belle Mare in the east, where you’ll find the eco-friendly Sunrise Attitude. Alternatively, head north for a break at the adult-only Paradise Cove, which lies on the sherbet sands of Anse la Raie, with views of a glassy turquoise lagoon from the clifftop infinity pool. Direct flights to magical Mauritius take around four hours from both South Africa and Kenya, an ideal pick for a safari combo.
The Seychelles is a honeymoon mecca with world-famous beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean. It’s just a three-hour direct flight from Nairobi or five from Johannesburg, making the Seychelles a great safari companion. Some of its best beaches include boulder-strewn Anse Lazio and Grand Anse Kerlan, which sits on the north-west coast of Praslin Island where hawksbill turtles hatch. This is one of three beaches that surround Constance Lemuria, a luxury hotel home to the country’s only golf course, along with Petite Anse Kerlan and Anse Georgette – regularly touted as one of the top beaches on the planet.
Come to Mahé for Mango House, the opulent former beach retreat of an Italian photographer. Here, you can enjoy Anse aux Poules Bleues, a cute cove with pale sands and waters teeming with eagle rays and baby sharks. Some of the most postcard-ready Seychelles beaches can be found on Silhouette Island, a marine park with volcanic mountains and forests where Aldabra giant tortoises live. Silhouette’s only resort, the all-villa Hilton Labriz, grants you access to barely-visited castaway coves and bays where you’ll feel like the only tourist on the island.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Laura, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.
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