Where to stay on Inhaca Island & Santa Maria

For something completely different, take the ferry to Inhaca Island, a magnetic Mozambique destination hidden off the Bay of Maputo. Marine researchers and birders explore the marine reserve’s iconic mudflats and mangroves, its stunning coral gardens and beaches. Inhaca Island is a superb diving destination and biodiversity hotspot close to the Santa Maria Peninsula. Discover its beauty, wealth of marine and island wildlife, intact ecosystems, and thrilling things to do. For all you need to know on how to get there and where to stay, Mozambique Travel has all the inside information on the best Inhaca Island lodges, self-catering cottages, and idyllic villas.

aerial view of Inhaca islands in Mozambique
Did you know? This island Inhaca is also known by the names of Inluica or Setimuro.

Also known as Kanyaka Island, it’s a sanctuary for more than 300 endemic bird species in mangroves and dune forests, as well as rare butterflies, fish, dolphins, whales, and corals. Stay on Inhaca Island in one of the attractive accommodation options, ranging from luxury lodges, self-catering villas, and houses to a few campsites and hotels.

Discover Inhaca Island in 2024

Villa Martins

This attractive lodge is made for families or couples with its convenient bed and breakfast accommodation right on the edge of the Indian Ocean. An ideal charming beach breakaway, Villa Martins offers privacy and romance, tranquillity, and a choice of outdoor activities for all ages. Highlights include boat trips to Turtle Beach, Praia de Santa Maria, Inhaca Island Snorkel Reserve, the historical lighthouse and the Inhaca Maritime Biology Museum.

The luxury mozambique accommodation at sunset by Villa Martins
The luxury Mozambique accommodation during sunset at Villa Martins.

Villa Martins is an attractive down-to-earth, lodge featuring a restaurant, play area, beautiful gardens, sparkling swimming pool, and outdoor chilling area. Each of the 10 rooms boasts ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, tea and coffee, and a private patio. Chill out a mere 80 m from the high tide mark, the best place to be for morning ocean swims and year-round sightings of large flocks of flamingos.

View the Villa Martins Gallery

Nahyeeni Lodge 

The right choice for exclusive-use accommodation on the magical Inhaca Island, Nahyeeni Lodge caters to up to 22 guests on a full board or self-catering basis. Revel in fantastic views across the bay to Maputo, Portuguese Island and Santa Maria Peninsula while relaxing in a tropical paradise. The best part about Nahyeeni Lodge is its serenity and privacy in pretty indigenous gardens. Elevated on a small hill, it’s popular with guests who love untouched beaches, wildlife, birding and coral reefs.

deck and sunbeds looking out onto the ocean in Mozambique
Indulge yourselves in a luxury tropical island adventure with a wealth of dreamy beaches, silky warm seas, lush scenery, and endless sunshine.

A central luxury, open-plan lounge is packed with entertainment while barmen pour cocktails from the swimming pool bar with its TV beside an outdoor boma BBQ area. The lush dune forests hide two private cottages and four new chalets featuring air-conditioning and modern bathrooms. The lodge’s 31-foot W31 Yamaha vessel `Bug` can be chartered at any time for transfers, fishing trips, whale and dolphin watching in season, sunset cruises, and trips to explore Santa Maria, Machangulo, Portuguese Island or Maputo.

View the accommodation at Nahyeeni Lodge here

 Holiday Activities on Inhaca Island 

So much to do and so much to see, on Inhaca Island, a revered biodiversity hotspot and ecotourism attraction, and a popular bucket list venue for divers and researchers. Massive open mudflats and mangroves around Saco Bay shelter rare birds, crustaceans, and mammals. More than 160 rare corals include staghorn and plate formations harbouring giant trevally, king mackerel, barracuda, and grouper. Whale sharks and manta rays cruise the island shallows in summer along with humpbacked and bottlenose dolphins.  

a woman diving with a whale shark in Mozambique
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean, with some of them measuring 19 meters (62 feet). That is larger than a school bus!

Sea kayaking, diving, and snorkelling enthral ocean lovers for hours. A short boat ride takes divers to the famous Coral Gardens (Barreira Vermelha) and Hotel Reefs to explore shallow waters and a 400 m-long coral wall where colourful reef fish swim.  Island hopping boat trips and big game fishing in some of the best angling spots in the world; market stalls, souvenirs, Mozambican cuisine and comfortable hotels – plus easy access to lodges and the airport add to the island’s attraction.

How to get to Inhaca Island

The best way to get to Inhaca Island is to take the revamped ferry from Maputo’s Katembe pier. It leaves Maputo at 7.30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays, and 11.00 on Fridays, then departs Inhaca at 15.00 on these days. Some visitors hire private charters and others select a helicopter ride to their villa accommodation on Inhaca Island. It’s a good idea to stay the night in Maputo before the boat transfer to make the most of the best seafood restaurants in the capital city.

Eat out in Maputo at a top seafood restaurant

Where to stay on the Santa Maria Peninsula

Santa Maria is associated with Machangulo, Ponta Rorres and Hell’s Gate, separated from Inhaca Island by a narrow and wild channel ideal for fishing. Santa Maria Village is a charming town with a small market selling basic supplies, a fuel station, and a long pier for scenic strolls to watch fishermen on dhows hauling in their daily catch. For where to stay on the Santa Maria Peninsula, read our tips on the best luxury and self-catering accommodations overlooking Hells Gate and Inhaca Island. Go down at high tide to see millions of litres of ocean water rush in and out of the bay, dragging everything with it!

Machangulo Beach Lodge

Aerial view of the coastline and beach in Mozambique
Untouched African beaches, untamed nature and friendly local service come together to create extraordinary holiday experiences here.

Escape the Maputo crowds for beachside living in nature at Machangulo Beach Lodge. Exceptional service, comfort and luscious cuisine in a reserve setting. Guests are treated to spectacular tidal clashes at Hell’s Gate, from villas hidden in the Santa Maria dune forests. A boat ride from Maputo Marina takes visitors to this little gem with just 9 spacious ocean-view private chalets. Guaranteed isolated bliss and tranquillity in lavish interiors brimming with comfortable fittings and facilities. Fancy en-suite bathrooms and private decks with sparkling splash pools keep families busy while villas feature 2 bedrooms each with aircon, fans, mini bars, tea and coffee, comfy lounges and dining areas.

Book your bed at Machangulo Beach Lodge

Cabo Beach Villas

The view of the ocean from Cabo Beach Villas in Mozambique
Two large beach villas and two smaller forest villas offer completely self-contained luxury accommodation with enormous wooden decks and sparkling swimming pools.

Bestselling tropical beach villa accommodation at Cabo Beach Villas comprises only 4 self-contained self-catering villas hidden in verdant dune forests. Exquisite ocean views enhance tasteful timber chalets, the epitome of rustic-chic eco-accommodation. Extensive polished wooden decks blend into the forest canopy beside dazzling swimming pools and neat braai areas. 

Known for their definitive barefoot luxury in Mozambique, Cabo Villas are also close enough to Maputo for a meal or casual sightseeing. Guests find themselves immersed in the tidal energies of the famous Hell’s Gate Channel below, a 20 m gulley of crazy waves at high tide between Inhaca and the Peninsula. Fishing, birding, beach walks, diving and snorkelling fill summery days that end with fine food and wine as the sun sets.

Get all the inside information on Cabo Beach Villas here

Colina Verde

aerial view of Colina Verde in mozambique
Colina Verde was born to be a sanctuary where guests can recharge, connect, and become inspired amidst the wonders of Machangulo.

Staying in this exclusive-use villa makes for a dream Mozambique holiday in a remote setting that is still conveniently close to Maputo. This intimate and exclusive escape is perfect for families or groups of friends, alone. Personalised services, flexible experiences and a haven of solitude where relaxing in nature creates unforgettable memories. Each of the 7 villa bedrooms is individually decorated with breathtaking views toward Inhaca Island. Explore these 10,000 hectares and 20 km of pristine coastline rich in biodiversity – spectacular dune forests, mangrove swamps and inland freshwater lakes.  

Community and conservation drive the successful ecotourism principles at Colina Verde Villa. Guests can participate in exciting research activities such as the fish tagging and monitoring project, and a scientific mission to mark apex predators with acoustic tags and track them using special receivers. Turtles lay their eggs here in the sand in season too.

Exquisite Eco-Accommodation at Colina Verde

What to do on Holiday at Santa Maria 

Santa Maria offers delightful holiday activities in a beautiful ocean and beach environment such as some of the world’s premier big-game fishing experiences. Imagine reeling in Marlin, Tuna, Barracuda, Dorado, and Kingfish from a luxury angling boat. 

  • Ponta Torres, located across the 400m Santa Maria Channel off Inhaca Island, is a protected coral reef reserve – the Coral Gardens (Barreira Vermelha) and Hotel Reefs offer exquisite shallow dives to a 400-meter wall covered in vibrant hard and soft corals, attracting a plethora of tropical fish species. Snorkellers revel in the warm clear waters on all sides of the island.
  • Ponta Abri is a beautiful beach within the Machangulo Private Nature Reserve where large dunes offer stunning ocean views, perfect for whale watching. This is where leatherback and loggerhead turtles nest, their hatchlings making their dramatic journey to the sea. During spring low tides and full or new moons, pick up beautiful pansy shells while some 350 bird species come and go. 

How to get to Santa Maria Peninsula

It is easy to get to the Santa Maria Machangulo Peninsula by boat from Maputo on a short 1.5-hour journey that costs about $150 per person. Get in touch with Mozambique Travel for assistance on transfers and accommodation to Santa Maria. This region lies at the tip of the compelling peninsula within the Maputo National Park Marine Reserve so it’s possible to self-drive to Santa Maria village, a good 90-minute drive from Maputo. When you get to the Futi Gate to enter the Park, it is another 3 to 4-hour drive in soft sand to the Peninsula, so a 4×4 is necessary. Make sure to refuel after the Katembe Bridge and drive carefully due to the wildlife.