A Walk on the
Island-Side of Life

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Enjoying the island life with Azura retreats

I am extremely lucky to have a job that affords me the opportunity to visit beautiful places. Having never visited Mozambique before, I jumped at the opportunity when I was invited to spend a few days at Azura Benguerra Island. The island itself lies 14 km north east of Vilanculos, the closest town and location of the international airport. From the moment I arrived on the island − in a helicopter, no less − I was overcome with happiness in its purest form. I travelled to Mozambique with somewhat high expectations, as I had only heard good things. When I left, however, I found it difficult to put into words just how much my expectations had been exceeded. Aside from the pristine beauty of the island, it was the hospitality of the staff at Azura that stole my heart.

Upon arrival I was met with white sands, crystal-clear water, and an overall sense of relaxation. After the meet and greet, I was given a quick tour of the resort by my host Pedro, a native Mozambican man with a big smile and an even bigger heart. He showed me the dining rooms, lounge and bar areas, water sports centre, and finally the 20 villas nestled along one of the few untouched stretches of beach in the world. These villas take having the ocean at your doorstep to a new level. Azura Benguerra is the first eco-friendly resort in Mozambique, having been hand-built by the local community and operating in partnership with it. The fact that the butler-hosts at Azura are all local makes the experience that much more personal, as they know the island inside out. On my last night at Azura, Pedro explained to me how he is part of one of the island’s local soccer teams, proceeding to explain how the matches take place every Sunday evening. Throughout my stay, I did not hear Pedro complain once. This man loves his job through and through − Azura is part of who he is. The Azura hosts take enormous pride in their innovative dining set-ups and it is the little touches that make the experience that much more special. For my last dinner on the island, Pedro set up a candle-lit table for me on the beach. I walked onto the sand and was welcomed by a dinner seating surrounded by palm leaves, tiki torches, and candles which dotted the shoreline.

When it comes to resort amenities, Azura Benguerra leaves no box unchecked. All of the villas offer guests everything they could want on an island getaway. The villas are spacious, overflowing with natural light, and filled with that island charm that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Equipped with full tea and coffee stations (and the most incredible homemade chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted), the villas also boast a minibar, WiFi, air-conditioning, outside showers, and luxurious bathroom amenities. The crème-de-le-crème, however, are the private patios and pools sitting outside each villa, perfect for a morning Americano as you watch the island stir, or a glass of champagne as you bid the horizon a good night. Nestled among indigenous gardens and palm trees, the villas were designed with seclusion in mind. Although guests can look out onto the beach with a spectacular ocean view, the villas are completely private − a tranquil oasis where the outside world seems to fade away.

The public areas of the resort, which include the restaurant, bar, and lounge, sit right on the beach, so that no matter what you are doing, you are constantly reminded that you are in paradise. There is also the trading post in the reception area which sells locally-made treasures, as well as anything you may have forgotten to bring with you such as sunscreen, hats, and sarongs. There is also an indoor lounge which invites guests to browse through the book collection that the resort has accumulated through the years. I found myself curled up on the couch getting stuck into my book on most evenings, winding down after days spent exploring in the sun.

Regarding excursions, Azura offers many activities to its guests, including island tours, whale watching, scuba diving, and snorkelling. I was taken out on one of the for snorkelling and island hopping and it was an experience I will truly never forget. Lunch orders are taken the day before so that when you get to your lunch destination (another secluded island), your food has been prepared and is waiting for you. The guides set up a spot so that you can enjoy your meal on the beachfront, interrupted only by the soft crashing of the waves. Personalised and meticulously curated, this experience is even better when shared.

Azura Benguerra stole my heart. Paradise in its purest form, this resort was like nothing I have ever experienced. Although sad to leave at the end of my stay, I came home feeling completely rested and humbled. The complete luxury, genuine warmth of the staff, and impeccable attention to detail left me wanting for nothing. My job has taken me to many wonderful places, but this trip was on another level. If you find yourself looking for accommodation in Mozambique, I would recommend a stay at Azura to anyone without so much as a second thought.

For more information on Azura Retreats,

visit www.azura-retreats.com.

Azura Retreats forms part of the Tourism Corporation portfolio.