by Grant Derrick
Cape Vidal Beach – South Africa
Location: Far north of Kwa-Zulu Natal in St. Lucia
Description : It is an unspoilt gem of the South African coastline. Cape Vidal is in the heart of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (St Lucia Marine Reserve).
Attractions : With access to the sea as well as lake St. Lucia there is an abundance of activities and wildlife to enjoy. Animals such as reedbuck, antelope, hippos, crocodiles and buffalo are a common site. On the ocean side one can catch a glimpse of migratory marlin, turtles and dolphins.
McDougall’s Beach – South Africa
Location : Situated in the Northern Cape province
Description : A region better known for its deserts and wild flowers than its beaches. It is a sleepy little village where you can definitely expect to relax and enjoy time without the bustle of tourists. Be warned though that the ocean temperatures are chilly on this Atlantic Ocean beach.
Attractions : You will find such attractions as the Namaqua National Park with its rich flora species; the Namaqualand Flower Route and the mountain desert wilderness of the Richtersveld National Park.
Coffee Bay – South Africa
Location : South Africa’s Wild Coast.
Description : A completely wild and unspoilt stretch of the South African coastline between the Eastern Cape and Natal in the former homeland of Transkei. Although this little village is off the beaten track, there are numerous activities to enjoy. A rustic atmosphere surrounds the place and most of the hotels and restaurants are within walking distance
Attractions : Activities to enjoy range from hiking, fishing, swimming, sunbathing, surfing, spear fishing, shell collecting, scuba diving, horse riding and golf. Visit the nearby “Hole in the wall” or venture into the alluring natural forests and explore. Whatever you choose to do in Coffee Bay, be ensured that leisure and relaxation is the primary objective.. Never a dull moment to be had in this unspoilt paradise.
Chitimba – Malawi
Location : Chitimba is situated on the northern shores of Lake Malawi.
Description : It is not a bustling metropolis but a sleepy little spot in the heart of Africa. The people are friendly and the atmosphere is so relaxed.
Attractions : There are many day trip hikes such as Chihanga Walk, Manchewe Falls Day Hike, Livingstonia Day Hike and Mount Chombe Day Hike. Some lodges offer water activities such as windsurfing, kayaking and bodysurfing. A trip by boat will allow you to access parts of the shore that are inaccessible by land making for some really private and unique experiences.
Likoma Island – Malawi
Location : Likoma Island is situated in the north east of Lake Malawi, only 7 km from Cobue, Mozambique.
Description : Despite a high population density, the natural environment of Likoma island is largely unspoiled. The coast is varied, with rocky slopes, sandy bays and swamps. The interior of the island is mostly covered by grassland, with a large number of baobab and mango trees. Fauna is mostly composed of small reptilians, amphibians, birds and a number of invertebrates, including scorpion spiders.
Attractions : On the coast, crocodiles are occasionally seen. The waters around Likoma are host to a number of Cichlid fishes. Be sure to visit St. Peter’s cathedral which was built in 1905 by missionaries. Other activities include cruises, sailing and other water activities, walking and biking.
Diani Beach – Kenya
Location : Diani Beach is 30 km south of Mombasa.
Description : Diani beach is pristine and clear of seaweed thanks to the coral reef just offshore. This coastal paradise has become one of Kenya’s most popular beaches. A vibrant yet intimate little paradise on the quiet shores of the Indian Ocean just South of Mombasa.
Attractions : Nearby are Tiwi Beach, Galu Beach, Chale Island, Funzi Island, Msambweni and Kinondo. Revered by many as the “cradle of humanity”, Kenya offers a holiday promising the world’s most magnificent wildlife parks, adventure safari’s, unspoilt beaches, thriving coral reefs, memorable mountains, capes and ancient Swahili cities.
Watamu – Kenya
Location : Watamu is about 100 km North of Mombasa.
Description : It forms part of the Malindi Marine Reserve Park, a marine protected area. It is also an Eco-tourist’s dream and the delightful village of Watamu is lined with sandy white beaches and hotels dedicated to sustainable tourism.
Attractions : Its snorkeling and diving experience is said to be the best in East Africa. Watamu is an important breeding ground for green and hawksbill turtles. If nature is your thing then you will be stunned with the awesome spectacles to be enjoyed in this paradise. Watamu is a quick snorkel away from the Malindi Marine Reserve Park. The village proper features quaint Kenyan shopping stalls called dukas, where you can stock up with supplies. Don’t miss the Gede Ruins, a mysterious and heavily overgrown 12th century Swahili village.
Bulago Island – Uganda
Location : Bulago Island is situated on Lake Victoria East of Entebbe International Airport.
Description : The island is approximately 500 acres and 2 miles long. It has approximately 6 kilometres of sandy beaches and 10km of shoreline altogether. Bulago Island is one of the several scenic islands on Lake Victoria. Bulago’s atmosphere is one of serenity and peace making it a perfect spot for honeymooners.
Attractions : Bulago offers brilliant lake side views, sunbathing, water sports, horse-riding, hiking trails and bird-watching. The island boasts approximately 200 bird species. Otters are a common site along the shores, and the nature trails provide wonderful opportunities for observing nature at her best. Fishing trips and enchanting sun-downer cruises can be arranged on request. Do visit the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee sanctuary. It offers a unique opportunity for close viewing of chimpanzees in their natural environment. Bulago has a wide range of terrain, from rugged hills to open grassland to golden sandy beaches to gentle cliffs to areas of tropical forest.
Pemba Island – Tanzania
Location : Pemba Island is in the Zanzibari archipelago just off the coast of Tanzania. Description : Pemba island is called “Green Island” in Arabic because it has stunning emerald waters and lush green rainforests. It is a lot less visited than the neighbouring Zanzibar. Until recent years it was mostly dominated by small scale farming. The commercial clove farming industry has become a favoured cash crop.
Attractions : The island boasts some of the earliest and best preserved ruins dating to around the early 15th century. Many visitors to Zanzibar have trekked to this island in search of better dive sites and coral reefs, and they have not been disappointed. Pemba Island is renowned for its rich fishing grounds, which also forms an important part of the economy of the archipelago. This island is not very touristy and is largely covered with old tropical forest. You will enjoy some of the best unspoilt coral reefs and snorkelling. This island has a rustic feel with friendly locals and is one of the last untouched gems in the Indian Ocean.
Inhambane – Mozambique
Location : Inhambane is situated about 470km north of Maputu on the Mozambique Channel.
Description : It is one of the oldest settlements on the East Coast of Mozambique. Dhows traded here as early as the 11th century where pearls and ambergris were the preferred commodity. When Vasco da Gama stopped at Inhambane to replenish stocks and to explore he named it Terra de Boa Gente or ‘Land of the Good People’.
Attractions : The 170 year old Cathedral of our Lady of Conception is located in the old quarter of the city where a rusty ladder leads to the top of the steeple, offering stunning panoramic views of the city. The city is now home to a museum and a market and is known for its nearby beaches of Tofo and Barra. The central market located on the main boulevard, simply called “Mercado Central”, offers a bounty of foods and goods from spices and vegetables to prawns, fish and cashew nuts. Motor and dhow taxis sail from the town to Maxixe. The town of Inhambane is near the Bazaruto National Park the largest sea park in Africa. Inhambane is particularly popular for Manta Reef and Gallaria.
Ifaty – Madagascar
Location : Ifaty is a small Vezo fishing village on Madagascar’s south western coast, on the shores of the Mozambique Channel.
Description : There are several good hotels along the beach, and while tourism has touched the town, most Vezo live a traditional lifestyle. The beaches are lined with dugout canoes made from hollowed tree trunks and the locals dwell in houses made from reeds.
Attractions : It is surrounded by coral reefs that make for exceptional aquatic exploring. It is an excellent spot to learn how to snorkel. July or August are ideal for whale spotting. There are many other adventures to enjoy such as excursions to nearby jungles, horse riding, quad biking, snorkelling and Scuba. The nearby Spiny Forest is a must see.
Nosy Be – Madagascar
Location : Nosy Be can be found at the south western tip of Madagascar.
Description : Nosy Be has flights direct from Johannesburg International Airport / OR Tambo. Nosy Be is the ideal place to relax in a tropical island location.
Attractions : Activities include dhow trips, island hopping, snorkelling, scuba, deep sea fishing, yacht charters and lemur tours. There is a host of accommodation around the island and whether your stay is leisurely or active you will not be disappointed. Nosy Be has something for everyone. You can visit the neighboring Islands of Nosy Komba, Nosy Sakatia, Nosy Iranja and more via boat.
Belle Mare Plage – Mauritius
Location : Situated on the peaceful East coast of Mauritius
Description : Not quite the mainstream Mauritius beach but certainly one of the most beautiful. This long stretch of beach gently curves around the bay, and faces directly out to the reef beyond.
Attractions : The water is calm for swimming and snorkelling. You can enjoy the amazing sunrises if you are up early enough. Visit the nearby village of Trou de Douce and take a ferry trip to Ile aux Cerfs, the postcard picture island, for the day. Many hotels offer package deals which include boat trips to the island with packed picnic lunches. Don’t miss out on hiring a scooter for one or more days and you will see so much more than you normally would as a regular tourist.
L’Hermitage les Bains – Reunion
Location : Situated on the West Coast of the island.
Description : Picturesque beaches epitomise some far away tropical island and the backdrop of black volcanic rocks cropping out add to the adventure and unique feel of the surrounds. This location offers one of the only lagoons on the island.
Attractions : L’Hermitage les Bains is one of the best beaches on the island. Numerous water activities can be enjoyed from snorkelling to diving to deep-sea fishing. For a more ethnic sense of Reunion, take a trip to the Hauts and visit some rustic and uncommercialised villages to sample some of that Creole culture. The barrier reef here protects the shore, forming a peaceful, shallow lagoon. and you will find it hard not to venture into the turquoise waters for some amazing snorkelling.
Comoros Islands – Comoros
Location : The Comoros are located the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar.
Description : The Comoros is formed by Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli), and Nzwani (Anjouan), three major islands in the Comoros Archipelago, as well as many minor islets. The islands of the Comoros Archipelago were formed by volcanic activity.
Attractions : Mount Karthala, an active volcano located on Ngazidja, is the country’s highest point, at 2,361 m. It contains the Comoros’ largest rainforest (which is rapidly disappearing). Karthala is currently one of the most active volcanoes in the world. There are so many attractions that an entire article would need to be dedicated to this island group alone. You could visit a perfume flower plantation or take a picnic lunch and relax on the beaches of the south east coast. You must visit Lac Sale, a salt lake that no one knows the depths of. Trou du Prophete, a natural anse which gives the impression of a vast natural swimming pool. Chomoni beach has the whitest and finest sand you’ll find. Climb the volcano, Karthala. You should try and visit the Volo Volo market, the largest on the island, and the nearby Nassib bakery.
I hope that you enjoy your travels to these mostly unpublicised locations. Please be sure to do your homework regarding inoculations and get to know the laws of each destination. Things such as the rules and regulations of Saadani, which is a national reserve where you are not permitted to return home with any keepsakes other than those on your camera or those purchased at one of the official curio shops. Other things to take note of, particularily in tropical locations, is the risk of tropical diseases as most destinations are in third world countries. Many roads may be in poor condition. Don’t forget that wild animals are wild, that is why they are called wild animals (point made I hope). The two most dangerous creatures in Africa are …not the lion but the Hippo and the Mosquito. The Comoros is a Muslim nation and it is advisable to respect the culture and traditions of any nation that you visit.