The Hidden Mozambican Island


Tourism touts like to throw the word “untouched” around, but if that statement was ever true, it would be about Ibo Island. Founders of the Ibo Island Lodge, Fiona and Kevin Record, literally stumbled upon the island while sailing through the Quirimbas Archipelago in Mozambique and were wooed to its shores at the sight of fishermen mending their nets, women dressed in colorful khanga collecting shellfish, kids playing on the sand, and crumbling coral forts protecting the perimeter. Their reaction ten years ago was probably the same as ours, “What is this magical and mysterious place?” Ibo Island has been inhabited for over 500 years and during its heyday in the 1700-1800s it was a vital trading port for the Portuguese spice trade.  Though when the colonists were forced to leave at the dawn of Mozambique’s independence, this thriving town slipped back to its ways as a simple fishing village and its grand colonial buildings fell into disrepair.  The Records knew this was a special place in need of preservation so they took the bold leap of being the first to build a hotel on Ibo and help the community shine again.

Rather than bring in a construction team from the mainland, the Records wanted to have the hotel be an avenue for growth and development for the town and its people. They hired all local builders, carpenters, seamstresses, and offered training courses for more to join in, plus English classes for those interested in continuing to work at the hotel. The majority of the staff at Ibo Island lodge were the very hands that built it. The hotel sits at the western shore of the island as a mark of progress the whole community can be proud of.

Ibo is a remote island so everything seen in this room was brought over by dhow boat or made custom on the premises. European elegance relaxes in a room filled with the breeze of the beach.  Note the exposed section of the back wall, it’s a glimpse into the classic Ibo construction, a mix of coral rock and lime.

Our room with its high ceilings, colonial furniture, and spice route accents was so inviting–especially with an iced bottle of champagne and sprinkling of bougainvillaea.

With a front porch framed by palm trees, tropical flowers, and an ocean view, we decided to take breakfast at our suite on multiple mornings.

During high tide you could swim among the mangroves directly in front of the hotel, but  we had this lovely infinity pool to look forward to when the tide went out.

One of our favorite sections of the hotel was this expansive roof terrace. Pillow-covered banquettes were the perfect perch to watch the sun go down while tables under the portico were an ideal spot for dining alfresco.

Full of surprises, the lodge team set up this private dinner for two on the beach. Following a path of hurricane candles down to our table on the sand, we arrived at this gorgeous table where we ate endless amounts of crab claws followed by ahi tuna and African spiced vegetables. The seafood on the island was incredible!

A place full of romance and intrigue, Ibo Island Lodge was such a special place for a honeymoon. For more on our stay at the hotel and excursions to magical islands, kayaking through mangroves, and exploring the colonial ruins of Ibo, check out our next blog.

Much love from Ibo Island,
Anne & Mike

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

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