Discovering Ibo Island


Ibo Island, sitting off the coast of Pemba, Mozambique, is a fascinating destination not just for its unique culture (as we described in our last blog) but as a launchpad for the Quirimbas Archipelago. Ibo is a gem made of coral rock, surrounded by the second largest mangrove in Africa and idyllic turquoise water. The founders of Ibo Island Lodge were long time safari outfitters but the dynamic shores of Ibo wooed them from their mainland jobs to take on a new kind of guiding…island exploration.

Before venturing off to the coral reef or neighboring islands, we wanted to understand Ibo the place and culture. We went on a walking tour with Ibo Island Lodge’s resident guide, a fifth generation Iboian, who had lived through the days as a Portuguese colony, Mozambique’s tumultuous independence, the return to an isolated fishing village, and now the new beginnings of tourism….that’s perspective. Forts like these, were strategically built around the island by the Portuguese, a reminder of how valuable Ibo once was as a spice trading post and colony.

Walking the dusty boulevards of Ibo, past the grand old plazas and abandoned colonial buildings, gives a sense of mystery. The chipping paint and vines growing on the buildings makes it hard to distinguish between buildings in use and those long forgotten. This church is the only one still functioning from the Portuguese days as others have been replaced by mosques to reflect the local blend of Islam and African rituals.

After a fascinating tour, it was time to enjoy the ocean views from our terrace. There is nothing better than sunset with a glass of champagne.

The next morning we set out to explore the island by sea.  Weaving through the mangrove forests, we ducked into different coves to watch the bird-life, admire the colonial buildings, watch the fisherman at work, and just enjoy the gentle waves.

A true highlight during our stay at Ibo Island Lodge was our trip to this disappearing sandbar beach. The tides fluctuate so much in a given day that depending on the hour, this idyllic sandbar can vanish under the ocean.  Timing it just right, we sailed out on the dhow (see first photo) to have a morning on our own private island. The activities team set up a full sit-down breakfast of omelets, yogurt parfait, pastries, and French-press coffee under the shade of this pop-up dining room.

We snorkeled the rest of the morning away spotting clown fish, parrot fish, vibrant coral, and starfish in the wildest colors.

It’s a rare that an idyllic island getaway also comes with a sense of history and culture. Ibo Island is a pure place, devoid of manufactured attractions, cookie-cutter accommodations and droves of tourists. If you’re the type of couple who doesn’t want a package beach resort for their honeymoon, the type that wants as a sense of discovery, exclusivity, and adventure, Ibo Island is yours.

Much love from Ibo Island,
Anne & Mike

Note: Ibo Island invited us to be their guest; however, all opinions are our own.

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