Earlier this year we travelled to Vilankulo. A small town situated along the Mozambique coastline that acts as a gateway to the ever so epic Bazaruto Archipelago. Originally called Vilanculos during colonial times the town was named after local tribal chief Gamala Vilankulo Mukoke, the name was changed to Vilankulo when Mozambique become independent 1975.
The beaches run endlessly up the coastline and are wild in nature with the each palm tree adopting their own personality. During low tide the ocean mysteriously hides itself leaving the once bobbing dhows stranded on the white sands longing to be rescued against a seamless African sky dotted with cotton-candy clouds.
Each morning we would explore the wonderfully wide shores and sand-blasted hideaways that the coastline of Vilankulo had to offer us stopping from time to time to hide beneath a mangrove tree from the summer heat. We found plenty of washed up coconuts and mountains of wild oysters shells glistening in the sun.
All walks were proceeded by fresh coconut water that our chef at Vila La Mar, Ernesto, would prepare for us by effortlessly scaling a six metre palm tree out back with his machete, followed by a quick education about the three stages of coconut maturity.
We stayed at Vila La Mar for the week we spent in Vilankulo. A beautiful self-catering luxury villa situated on the beach and set back in lush tropical gardens. There’s not much to do at the villa besides soaking up the sun while reading endless summer novels. Which to be honest, suited me just fine.
As for Vilankulo itself there’s plenty of activities to keep you entertained during your stay:
– Day trips to the nearby islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago. (Detailed blog post to follow soon about that.)
– Go for a sunset horse riding safari. Your guide will take you along parts of untouched beach for a real ‘island hideaway’ feel. You even have the option of going swimming with the horses.
– Explore the small (only 5km) town of Vilankulo. The town shuts down on Sunday’s so make a plan to visit during the week.
– Go shopping for fresh fish for dinner. Every afternoon, around 4pm at the beach near Oddysea Dive, the fishermen beach their motleyed dhows. Women and children load the fish and seafood into colourful plastic buckets and a pop-up auction follows. This is a small glimpse into the daily lives of the locals.
– Visit local beach bars such as Casbah, Samara or Archipelago Resort for lunch and cocktails.
– Go diving/snorkelling. I have never seen so many colourful fish in such close proximity. I’ve snorkelled in a lot of places around the world and the Archipelago still wins hands down. The Bazaruto islands and its surrounding coral reefs were declared a national park in 1971.
– If horse riding isn’t for you there’s always the option to go on a sunset dhow safari.
– Vilanculos is the perfect place to learn to kite surf.
Vilankulo has been growing extensively over the last decade with a considerable inward investment into its tourism infrastructure. It is home to a new international airport which has daily flights to several regional destinations.
With that being said the town is still very rural with most of the locals living a very simple life either farming or fishing while most homes are built out of dried reeds and tin. Colour is embraced throughout the town with the colour blocking of buildings and handmade garments. Games of informal football take place on the beach while fisherman mend their nets nearby or play a game of cards.
A special shoutout to two of my very best friends Marius and Paul for introducing us to Vilankulo who unfortunately had to drop out of our holiday due to medical reasons. They always used to tell us stories about this small Mozambique town and how special the place was but I never fully grasped it’s magic until I got to experience it for myself.
An untouched coastline, thousands of wild palm trees, a preserved coral reef still abundant with sea life, azure blue waters with deserted islands scattered throughout, simple living consisting of fresh coconuts and omega rich fish. What’s not to love?
Till next time Vilankulo.
orange swimsuit – Sommer Swim
white flare trousers – H&M Studio
cat eye sunnies – Le Specs
mini fang necklace – Missoma
black dress – H&M Trend
stripped espadrilles – H&M
wooden bag – Shop On Y Va
tortoise shell sunnies – Miu Miu
lace lingerie – Cotton On Body
white tee – Mango
yellow jumper – Holiday Boileau
denim shorts – Zara
round basket bag – Shop On Y Va
rope sandals – Nomadic State of Mind
yellow floral dress – Mango
yellow dress – Free People
maroon sandals – Trenery
stripped shorts – Billabong
stripped silk set – H&M Trend
flat sunnies – Celine
white shirt – H&M Trend
basket shopper – Cotton On
* All photos taken by myself and Justin Polkey