The Best Beach Destinations in Africa for a Post-Safari Honeymoon
An African safari is the perfect combination of adventure and romance. Sip sundowners as zebra graze in the distant plains. Soak in your private infinity pool while elephants wallow in a nearby watering hole. Cruise the Zambezi River in search of hippos as the sun sets. However, after action-packed days filled with sunrise game drives and bush walks, many honeymooners feel like they need a vacation to recover from vacation. The solution: tack on an island getaway.
Combination bush and beach honeymoons deliver that oh-so-important dose of R&R you crave after celebrating the big day. "We often suggest a post-safari island stay to honeymooners because of the contrast of pace between safari and islands," says Nicole Robinson chief marketing officer of andBeyond. "After a week or more on safari, the early mornings, the fear of missing out on even one drive, and the adrenaline of witnessing nature's theatre all make for a non-stop pace. The transition to island time with its come-and-go as-you-like schedule then affords the luxury to sleep in, process safari memories, and really relax before re-engaging with the world."
Many of Africa's most spectacular beach destinations can easily be tacked onto mainland safaris. And if you easily tire of lounging in the sun, there's plenty else to keep busy, from world-class diving and fishing to dhow cruises and marine safaris. For seamless travel, it's best to book with an expert who can help coordinate charter flights and boat connections. No one knows the islands of the Indian Ocean, particularly the Seychelles, quite like Cherri Briggs, founder of Explore, Inc. And when it comes navigating travel intricacies of off-the-beaten-path destinations like Madagascar and the islands of Mozambique, Will Jones, Founder of Journeys by Design, is a master. Spark your wanderlust with some of these sun-drenched post-safari island escapes.
This paradisical archipelago boasts more than 100 islands with powder-fine white sand beaches and pristine azure water, ideal for snorkeling and diving. When considering the best Africa beach destinations, the untainted beauty of the Seychelles is what often comes to mind.
Tack on to: It's very easy to connect the Seychelles to East Africa and from South Africa you can fly non-stop from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Mahé Island.
When to go: The Seychelles are blessed with year-round summer weather. Visibility is best for diving April through May and October through November.
Where to stay: Mahé, the main island is great for someone who doesn't have a lot of time as it's easy to access and offers everything from snorkeling and kayaking to rainforest hikes. Reserve one of the 30 villas at Anantara Maia an all-inclusive resort set on the pearly sands of Anse Louis beach. Take an hour scheduled charter from Mahé to Alphonse Island Resort, a private island hotel with 22 bungalows and fantastic diving, snorkeling, and fishing just off of its shores. North Island is in a league apart. This private island is accessed by charter or helicopter and when you land you know you are in a rarified spot. The 11-villa gem has hosted boldface named honeymooners such as Prince William and Kate Middleton and George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin.
What to do: Scuba divers should explore sites off the outer islands, such as Gorge Gonian, Napolean, and Secret Reef. Take a catamaran day trip to St Anne Marine Park to view the 100-plus resident land tortoises on Moyenne Island. Fishing aficionados take note: Alphonse Island is home to some of the world's best salt-water fly fishing.
This island nation on the east coast of Africa, 1,200 miles off the coast of Madagascar, has verdant, trail laced interiors to complement its palm-shaded sugary shores. An exceptional dining scene reflects the island's French roots.
Tack on to: South African Airways flies nonstop from Johannesburg to Mauritius daily, making it a hassle-free hop after an East Africa safari.
When to go: The weather is always warm in the tropics. April and October through mid-December bring calm seas for diving, snorkeling, and swimming. Consistent tradewinds May through September make this a kite-surf mecca.
Where to stay: Adults-only Salt of Palomar is an intimate, laidback alternative to the island's extravagant luxury stays, like the Four Seasons, One&Only, and Shangri-La. The bold, Miami-worthy palette is a nod to the electric hues of the island's houses and the menus at the pool and rooftop bars showcase local libations such as Flying Dodo IPA and Mauritian-made rum spiked with island spices. If you crave a bit of seclusion, you can jet to Ile des Deux Cocos, the hotel's private island, for a Creole-inspired beach barbecue and snorkeling.
What to do: Go on a birdwatching safari in Bel Ombre, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Guides from the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation can help you spot rare endemic species like the Echo Parakeet and Pink Pigeon. Become a rum connoisseur with a tour and tasting at Rhumerie de Chamarel, a picturesque estate on the southwest side of the island. Golf enthusiasts shouldn't miss the chance to tee off at Ile aux Cerfs, a legendary 18-hole course surrounded by a sparkling lagoon and reachable by a golf boat shuttle or helicopter flight.
Benguerra Island, Mozambique
The second largest island within the Bazaruto Archipelago, Benguerra sits within a marine reserve known for its talcum sand dune islands, turquoise water, and diverse marine and birdlife.
Tack on to: Fly into the coastal town of Vilanculos from South Africa or Botswana then connect by a 15-minute boat ride or quick charter flight.
When to go: From April through June the jungles are lush, the waters calm, and the sunshine plentiful. Whale sharks can be spotted in October and November. September through January is prime time for marlin fishing. Avoid hurricane season, February through March.
Where to stay: Nestled on nearly 750 acres of private beach on the southern tip of Benguerra Island, newcomer Kisawa Sanctuary feels like your own private island. Each of the 11 bungalows sits on one acre and has its own beach, infinity pool, outdoor kitchen, and butler. (Honeymooners note bungalow two is perched on a dune and is the most secluded.) Dine under the stars at the casual pizza tuk tuk truck or sample Mozambican dishes with a splash of South Indian flavors at beachside restaurant Barracca (don't miss the peri-peri chicken). What isn't grown on property is sourced from within 190 miles. By day, kayak, snorkel or zen out at the Ayurvedic spa, which features yoga and meditation classes as well as Africa's only iyashi dome—a Japanese infrared sauna. At least one night, opt to camp at Ponta Mutsita in one of the hotel's Australian bell tents.
What to do: Boat to Flamingo Beach to snap photos of its namesake pink birds. Join researchers from the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies on a boat tour to observe spinner dolphins and rare dugongs or help scientists tag sharks for monitoring. Take a romantic sunset sail aboard a traditional dhow boat.
Known as the Spice Island, the Zanzibar archipelago has a storied past of traders and seafarers. Today, it lures sybarites and adventurers with its untouched beaches and some of East Africa's top dive sites.
Tack on to: The archipelago is around a 20-minute flight from the coast of Tanzania, making it a great add-on for Tanzania and East Africa safaris.
When to go: The dry season runs July through September and overlaps with the Great Migration in the Serengeti.
Where to stay: Play castaway on a tiny private island, andBeyond Mnemba. Floating off the northeastern tip of Zanzibar, the 24-person retreat is a diver's paradise surrounded by an atoll of vibrant coral reefs. Dedicate butlers tend to your every whim, from candlelit beach dinners of sushi and bubbles to bespoke sunrise yoga sessions. andbeyond.com Fifty miles northeast of Zanzibar Island and reachable by a 30-minute flight, Pemba Island is a tapestry of snow-white beaches, mangroves, clove plantations, and wild jungles that conceal historic tombs and ruins. Manta Resort is known for its Instagram-sensation underwater guestroom—a three-story space that literally floats in the aquamarine sea. But that's far from the only reason to book. Local staff are delightful, a daily complimentary spa treatment (try the Swahili head massage) is included with your stay, and the reef in front of the resort lies within a conservation area so it teems with life.
What to do: Stroll the vibrant spice markets of UNESCO World Heritage-designated Stone Town, the historical center of the Arabic-influenced capital. Hook a stripe marlin or wahoo on a deep-sea fishing excursion in the famed North Pemba fishing grounds. Scuba dive bucket-list spots like Fundu Reef, Manta Point, and Scorpions Secret.
Lamu Island, Kenya
"Pole, pole," the Swahili word for slow down, embodies the philosophy of this boho chic island just off Kenya's northern coast. Once hailed as Africa's Kathmandu in the 1960s, Lamu has become the getaway of choice for celebrities, designers, and models thanks to its mix of stylish shops and restaurants, boutique hotels, and empty beaches.
Tack on to:Any safari in Kenya or East Africa. From Nairobi, it's an 80-minute direct flight to Lamu with airlines including Kenya Airways, Safarilink Aviation, and Jambojet.
When to go: Lamu's dry season, July through October, coincides with the Wildebeest Migration in Kenya's Masai Mara.
Where to stay: Enduring family-run Peponi Hotel has an unbeatable beachfront location in Shela village. The 28-room boutique stay has one of the island's top restaurants with a global menu of sushi, Thai, and Swahili dishes (try the kuku na mchuzi, a traditional chicken and peanut stew). Cocktail hour on the rooftop terrace is always a scene—the cocktails are stellar, but it's also one of the few watering holes in the Muslim village.
What to do: Explore Lamu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre with winding narrow streets and impressive Swahili and Arabic stone architecture. Be sure to pop into Aman, a chic clothing boutique. Take a 30-minute boat ride from Lamu Town to Manda Island to view the ruins of Takwa, the remains of a 15th century Swahili trading town. Book a dhow and sail to Manda Toto, a tiny offshore island of Manda with stellar snorkeling spots.
For travel bragging rights, visit the world's fourth largest island. A Darwinian dreamscape, this biodiversity hotspot is known for its rare flora (baobab trees) and fauna (lemurs). Nearly 150,000 of the 200,000 known species on the island exist nowhere else.
Tack on to: After a safari in Kenya, hop a 3-hour 20-minute direct flight from Nairobi to the capital, Antanarivo, via Kenya Airways. Safari operator Time + Tide, which operates some of the most iconic walking safari camps in Zambia, also manages Miavana, an over-the-top private island stay in Madagascar, and can coordinate seamless transport between the two destinations.
When to go: The dry season runs May through October, except for the island of Nosy Ankao off the north coast which is typically rain-free year-round.
Where to stay: The ultimate Robinson Crusoe fantasy, Masoala Forest Lodge's 7 palm thatched treehouses front the ocean and are surrounded by a private forest reserve. Reached by a 75-minute flight from Antanarivo to the small town of Maroantsetra and then a boat ride that doubles as a sightseeing tour, this family-run retreat is a wildlife lovers' haven, with trails leading from its doorstep. It also offers epic kayaking opportunities, and the neighboring village is just a 10-minute walk away so you can meet the locals. For James Bond-worthy luxury, splurge on Miavana. Guests arrive to the 14-villa hotel on Nosy Ankao by helicopter, taking in pearly islands and the coral-blanketed crystal sea below. You wish it, and the staff make it happen, from a helicopter drop for champagne brunch on a clifftop to naturalist-led nature walks in search of pinky-sized chameleons.
What to do: Go on a marine safari at Miavana to spot turtles, dolphins and from July to September, whales. From mid-May to October Miavana is a terrific spot for kite surfing. Join a lemur adventure tour at Masoala Forest Lodge and try to tick off sightings of the area's 11 resident species.