Pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, unique wildlife, deep histories, warm oceans, and friendly locals, together with a varied range of activities to engage in, characterise a fair share of Africa’s stunning islands. The continent certainly is home to some of the most stunning beaches and best island breaks in the world. We explore the top 12 African island getaways which offer paradise on earth.
Zanzibar | Tanzania
With a little bit of everything to keep everyone content, Zanzibar is an island rich in history and culture, but also one which boasts some of the most beautiful beaches to be found in Africa. It is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site; namely Stone Town. Visitors can explore its beautiful winding alleys and marvel at the impressive Arab houses and intricate doors. They can also learn why Zanzibar is often referred to as the Spice Island by tasting delicious fruits, spices and even rare plants. And of course, they can relax on stunning white sand beaches all year long.
São Tomé Island | São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé, the largest island of the beautiful Portuguese-speaking country which sits on the Equator; namely São Tomé and Príncipe, is one of the most beautiful islands to be found in Africa. As it receives little tourism, visitors who actually make it there can enjoy snorkelling and diving experiences in uncharted waters. They can also wander around sleepy fishing villages at their own pace, without being disturbed by anyone else. And last but not least, they can visit an impressive chocolate factory and indulge in delicious coffee considered to be some of the best in the world. It is also worth knowing that in the early 20th century, São Tomé was one of the biggest cocoa producers in the world.
Sal | Cape Verde
Cape Verde is by far one of the most popular countries for African island getaways, and Sal is its most visited island – for all the right reasons. As one of the archipelago’s 10 beautiful islands, Sal, literally meaning salt in Portuguese, has become more popular than the rest for its easy accessibility and beautiful sandy beaches. Santa Maria, with its beautiful pastel coloured houses, is the main town of this stunning island, and is where visitors can find a range of bars, restaurants, live music shows and nightlife.
Mohéli | Comoros
Sometimes referred to as Mwali, Mohéli is the smallest island of Comoros; a small but beautiful nation made up of three stunning islands. It is still undeveloped, with few inhabitants and not much in terms of modern facilities, but it is exactly that wildness that makes the beauty of the island. Comoros’ only national park; the beautiful Mohéli Marine Park, is also there to the delight of snorkelers who are able to admire stunning and colourful coral reefs. Sea turtles, whales, and dolphins also inhabit the park, and they are all protected.
Djerba | Tunisia
Right off the coast of Southern Tunisia, Djerba is the most important North African island in size. Very popular among tourists, this island offers beautiful sandy beaches, a range of water sport activities, and good dining options. However, a short distance away from the animated beach resorts, visitors can also find a silent and more peaceful countryside. Djerba’s residents have also kept their culture and traditions, and it is one of the only places in the country where people still speak the Berber language.
Nosy Be | Madagascar
Nosy Be is one of Madagascar’s premier tourist destinations. Indeed, this small island attracts thousands of visitors from around the world, and that, all year long. Even though the island does not offer the most photogenic beaches when compared to others in the Indian Ocean, it is very appreciated among visitors for its tranquility, crystal clear turquoise waters, and mouth-watering restaurants which serve seafood on the sand. Nothing better for a romantic dinner.
Praslin | Seychelles
With about 6500 inhabitants, the beautiful island of Praslin is the second largest in the Seychelles. Back in the day, the island served as the perfect hideaway spot for Arab merchants and pirates. Today, it has become a popular destination for tourists from across the globe who come and stay in the beautiful hotels and resorts. Some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are also there, including the stunning white sand Anse Lazio beach, and Anse Georgette. Visitors can also engage in bird watching in the island’s beautiful tropical forests, and visit the Vallée de Mai Nature Preserve where vanilla orchids can be found.
Mauritius, a multicultural island located in the Indian Ocean, is a small and stunning island that remained inhabited until the Dutch’s arrival in 1598. In 1715, 5 years after the Dutch had left, the French arrived, followed by the British who remained until Mauritius gained its independence. The country is famous worldwide for having been the only natural habitat we know of so far of the now extinct dodo. As this beautiful, and intriguing bird was heavy and unable to fly, it was an easy prey for European settlers.
Bazaruto Archipelago | Mozambique
Right off of Southern Mozambique, the Bazaruto Archipelago is paradise on earth for divers. Most of it is a protected national park, and divers can still marvel at pristine coral reefs. The underwater world is also home to many species of colourful fish, whale sharks, dolphins, manta rays, mackerels, and more. If divers are lucky enough, they might even spot the elusive, and intriguing dugong. Bazaruto is also the ideal place to relax and feast on prawn platters.
Lamu Island | Kenya
Culture vultures will be amazed at the wonderful things Lamu Island’s old town has to offer. It is considered to be one of the best preserved and oldest Swahili settlements in the region. Visitors feel transported back to the 8th century as they stroll down the winding alleys, hear the Muslim call to prayer, pass by impressive merchant houses, donkey carts and a beautiful old port. This beautiful UNESCO Heritage Site is home to Shela in the North and Lamu’s old town in the south. The former is a peaceful seaside village. To travel between both, visitors can take a boat ride or walk for 45 minutes.
Chief’s Island | Botswana
Chief’s Island is one of the biggest Okavango Delta islands. It is the perfect spot for safari lovers as its fertile plains offer impressive game viewing occasions. Visitors can view the beautiful zebra, elephant herds, wildebeest, impala, and red lechwe which congregate on the island. They will also have the chance to come across hippos and crocodiles in the waters of the delta. As Chief’s Island is higher than other islands of the delta it does not flood. Instead, when the waters rise, it becomes a wildlife haven.
Mumbo Island | Malawi
When it comes to romance, nothing beats Mumbo Island. This small island of only one kilometre in diametre remains unpopulated. Every night, a maximum of 14 guests can be accommodated at the Mumbo Island Camp in private tents. To reach it, visitors have to cross a wooden bridge from Mumbo’s central beach. It is the ideal place to unwind by spending days swimming in the crystal clear waters of Lake Malawi, snorkeling, diving, kayaking around hidden coves, and even lying down in comfortable hammocks.