Why would you want to visit the tiny Island of Mozambique, Ilha de Mozambique, lying off the shore of Nacala? Because of its history, its quaint ruins and stories waiting to be told. Because of its quality and charismatic accommodation, fit for honeymoon couples, families and travellers seeking adventure away from the humdrum of daily life.
While the island is still in the process of being restored and conserved today, it remains an important UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical and cultural importance. Way before Vasco da Gama even visited this Mozambique isle, it was a major Arab port and boat building centre, named after its sultan, Ali Musa Mbiki. When the mainland country was called Mozambique, the island got its present name, Ilha de Moçambique.
Did you know that the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte was built in 1522 and is considered the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere? Later, Fort Sao Sebestiao was built, the Portuguese settlement now known as Stone Town, and this became the capital of Portuguese East Africa. The first fortress, St Gabriel, was built in 1507 and by the end of the 18th century the island was a jumble of stone buildings, buildings made of macuti (straw) and other fortifications.
The island was also an important missionary centre and a place where slaves were traded. For many years, the hospital, built in a Portuguese neo-classical style, was the largest hospital south of the Sahara! It was repainted white after the Mozambique Civil War.
1n 1898, the Portuguese moved the capital of Mozambique to Lourenco Marques, now Maputo, and Nacala harbour took most of Mozambique Island’s business. Contact one of our consultants to assist you with a tour of the island.
Today, it is great to hire a bike and ride around the island, taking in the fascinating history. Or book a bike tour to see every historical site with stops at restaurants and bars, beaches and shops. Diving holidays reveal wonderful sites underwater and visitors can start at the dive centre at the north of the island. Take an amazing boat trip out to see nearby islands of Goa and Sete Paus or Sena Island or swim at the Pontao (pier) where you can experience surprisingly good snorkelling – explore the old sunken barge. Local restaurants serve authentic Mozambican seafood and other spicy dishes. Rice and fish are cheap.
Wander around the old buildings and piazzas and feel inspired. Visit the Museum of Sacred Art, the cemetery for British soldiers who fought in World War II and indulge in a traditional beauty therapy, ‘musiro‘.