Azura Bengurra is a hidden gem in Mozambique. Located 1,832km’s from South Africa, it can be quite a trip for those traveling from the Europe or United States. That’s not to say this destination is not worth the long hours in the air.
Upon arrival we were welcomed by their staff at Vilankulos airport then whisked away to the Island in a helicopter. We flew over enormous aquamarine coloured spots laying in the ocean beneath us. Our pilot Heath explained that the darker the spots the deeper the water was. It was so spectacular that the word ‘spectacular’ doesn’t really cover it.
We arrived and we were escorted to our Infinity beach villas. The hotel has 18 villas – each with its own pool, indoor and outdoor shower and access to the beach.
For 2 couples, The Villa Amizade is perfect. This 2 bedroom en-suite villa has 2 bathrooms, a beachside sala and a small kitchenette.
For the ultimate privacy, The Presidential Villa is the beach house of your dreams. It even comes with a private chef, host, bar and helicopter landing area.
During our stay we felt like we were the only guests on the island. After breakfast everyone seemed to magically disappear, and surprisingly there’s a lot you can do on this island.
Firstly there is the Island Drive, where you get to explore the Island and learn a bit about the people. Benguerra Island is home to an estimated population of 1,200 which Azura’s Rainbow Fund supports by providing education and work opportunities. They built the only school on the Island which has 359 students and 8 teachers.
On our 3rd day on the Island we went on an amazing Island Hop experience. We stopped at a small, protected underwater reef where you can snorkel and dive. I might have started out a little nervous, but I can tell you right now—it ended up being my absolute favourite experience in Mozambique.
It took me a few tries to get a steady breathing pace, but eventually I was able to stay under. At this point I began to see the reef and dozens of little fish swimming around beneath me. I was in awe. Thanks to our instructor (Carlos) for being patient with me.
After an hour of snorkeling, we hopped onto out boat to visit our next destination: Pansy Island.
On this Island you can find pansy shells which are only found in 2 places in the world – The Garden Route, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa and Pansy Shell Beach, Inhambane, Mozambique.
Unbelievably the Pansy Shell is not a shell but a living creature, similar to a sea urchin. It feeds while burying itself just under the surface of the sand in very shallow water. When it is alive it is purple in colour and covered in short furry bristles. When the creature dies, the bristles fall off and it then takes about a week for it to be bleached white by the salt and the sun.
These shells are rare and protected – you can be prosecuted for taking them without permission.
After having a photoshoot on Pansy Island we went to our next destination where the Azura team setup an amazing beach picnic for us.
After our tummies were full we headed back to Azura where we rested for an hour then headed out on a dhow to watch the sunset.
Azura is everything you imagined in paradise and more. As I am writing this, my mind wanders off to the idyllic Azura Bengurra Island. To read about it is great, but there’s only one way to really find out what true paradise is like, and that is: to go there and experience it for yourself.
Azura currently has 3 retreats: Bengurra (Island with a community), Quilalea (Private Island) and Selous (Game Reserve).
Visit azura-retreats.com for more information.