5 Exciting Things To Do In Vilanculos, Mozambique
1. Visit Bazaruto Archipelago
Bazaruto Archipelago is without a doubt, one of those destinations that I never thought I’d make it to until I was rich and had my own private jet or something.
To be honest, I never thought I’d even make it there, until I saw a picture of the place while planning my Africa trip and absolutely fell in love with the idea of visiting this sand dune and cristal clear water heaven.
The island group ( it’s comprised of 6 islands) is known for sandy white beaches, phenomenal snorkeling and stunning sand dunes.
I can honestly say, the beaches there were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. We went there with a local company called Sunset Dhow Safari and it was one of those experiences that not only will I never forget, but that I absolutely recommend as a MUST while in Vilanculos.
2. Jet Ski to Death Island or Shell Island
In Vilanculos Beach Lodge you can rent the only jet skis we saw in all of Vilanculos. You can rent them by the hour or take their tour which is what we did.
They took us from the shore in front of the hotel and we rode a short distance to death island which is a sandbank composed of tiny shells which is visible only on low tide.
Legend says a group of slaves were once dropped off on the island to wait while more slaves were being brought from Vilanculos. In the time it took for the new group to arrive, the tide changed and the initial group was washed off into the shark infested ocean.
Ever since, the island has been called Death Island. Today, there are no sharks, and the place is the perfect picnic spot, and also the most ideal place to spot sea stars, which are left hanging on the sand every time the tide recedes. Y
ou can jet ski around to explore all the fish and dolphins that frequently visit the island. You can also stop on your way there as you will spot all kinds of sea creatures, if you get lucky you might see a dugong!!! While bathing in the shore, we saw some dolphins swim by….it was so cool!
Don’t forget coral friendly sunblock and a hat as there are no trees or shade of any kind.
3. Take a traditional dhow boat to watch the sunset on the red sand dunes
The trip takes approximately 45 minutes from the shores of Vilanculos and you will ride slowly on a traditional dhow boat to the dunes.
We used Sunset Dhow Safari, and had a great time enjoying the sound of waves crashing against the wood boat and watching the local guides maneuver the sails.
From the boat you can see the entire coastline of Vilanculos, and it’s inevitable not to get excited as you approach the huge red sand dunes.
Once you arrive, you disembark on the beach (so be ready to get wet) and walk up the dunes.
I really thought it would be a long, strenuous walk, but it was rather easy. Once up there, you will see the crazy contrast of the beach to one side and a lush green jungle to the other.
The sun will set on the jungle side, giving you a perfect red/green contrast you don’t get to see a lot while on the coast of Mozambique. Needless to say the sunset is absolutely stunning!
4. Ride Horses in the water
Since the moment we arrived in Vilankulos we heard the tales of rescued horses and the amazing people who risked everything to bring 104 horses from war ridden Botswana to Mozambique.
Obviously, this is something we had to see (and ride) for ourselves. The Mozambique Horse Safari property is perfectly located on the coast, and as soon as you walk down to the water, you see all the beautiful horses getting ready to go in the water.
Apparently they love bathing in the ocean. Your guide will accompany you as you ride the horses in the shore, with the horizon to one side, the beautiful mozambican coast to the other, and the soft morning sun above.
This was one of those experiences I will never forget.
Maybe because the horses were so cute and well behaved, maybe because it was one of our last excursions in this are and it was so sad saying goodbye, but for sure it was emotional and heartwarming knowing these horses rode along with their owners all the way from Botswana in search for peace and life.
There are only a small number of the original 104 horses rescued remaining, but their story is one worth reading and experiencing.
5. Discover the local culture
If you’re staying on a hotel or lodge, chances are you don’t get to see much of Mozambican local culture, which is a shame because the people of Mozambique are one of the sole reasons why this country must be visited.
We took a tour designed by Afromoz Tours to showcase the local culture, the village, an archeological site, the market and the most delicious food we had in Mozambique.
We started the day discovering the archeological site, which is so raw and real you can still collect ancient pieces of pottery and other artifacts off the beach where it is located.
Following this historial port site, we headed to town, where we explored the market which is still in the same building it was when it was first built over 100 years ago and was one of the first in the country.
Inside the market though, we were amazed to find hundreds of local vendors selling everything from dry fish to fruit, vegetables and spices.
The locals were incredibly friendly and interactive, and we even got to dance with them! After the market visit, we were left hungry and so our tour guide took us to the most amazing place to eat in Vilanculos: Zita’s place.
A small local restaurant where Zita herself makes you some local delicacies. No fuss, no wait, nothing fancy…. but truly one of the best dining experiences we’ve had abroad.
Her food is all locally sourced, all fresh and her customer service is unlike many!
No matter what, make sure you give Mozambique a try, as it is one of those countries I imagine will be very popular in 10 years, but never as raw as it is now.
Do you have any recommendations for things to do in Vilanculos that I might be missing?
Comment below and let me know.