Top 10 Beach Destinations for Your African Honeymoon - Fauna Travel

Top 10 Beach Destinations for Your African Honeymoon

North Island, Seychelles / Courtesy of North Island

By: Scott Dubois, Fauna Travel Designer

Africa is the ultimate honeymoon destination, and there is no better way to end your safari than on an idyllic beach on the Indian Ocean. You have many choices for a so-called “bush-to-beach” honeymoon, depending on your location and travel preferences, so I’ve compiled a list of my favorite spots to help you pick your perfect beach.

1. Seychelles

Beach at North Island, Seychelles / Courtesy of North Island luxury Indian Ocean beach resort
North Island, Seychelles / Courtesy of North Island

Seychelles is a dream beach destination with remote beaches, tall palms, and dramatic cliffs. The main island of Mahe has several good resorts, including the Four Seasons, but the real gems are found on private islands that you must take a short charter flight or helicopter to. North Island is one of the best resorts on the planet and is worth every penny, and Alphonse Island is a great option if you want the same seclusion at a better price point. Because of the time it takes to get here, it’s best to budget at least four nights – especially if you are leaving Mahe.

Daily 4-hour direct flights from Nairobi most easily access the islands, but there are occasional flights from Johannesburg. Seychelles is great in the shoulder seasons of April-May or October/November. May to September are pleasant but can be windy at times, and January and February are the rainiest months.

2. Benguerra Island, Mozambique

Villa Amizade at Azura Benguerra Island, Mozambique / Courtesy of Azura luxury Indian Ocean beach resort
Villa Amizade at Azura Benguerra Island, Mozambique / Courtesy of Azura

I spent my honeymoon in Mozambique, and it’s my top choice to end South African itineraries. Benguerra Island is surrounded by stunningly clear shallow seas filled with coral reefs and the rare dugong. The resorts are all supremely stylish but very laid-back, with places like Azura Benguerra and Kisawa Sanctuary being standouts. Newcomers like Sussuro on the mainland are also worth considering.

Most resorts are accessed via Vilanculos, which has direct flights to Johannesburg. Cyclone season from October to March should be avoided, but the weather is pleasant outside of that time.

3. Pemba Island, Tanzania

Manta Resort / Courtesy of Manta Resort
Manta Resort / Courtesy of Manta Resort

Pemba Island is the more laid-back neighbor to Zanzibar, and while there are multiple resorts here, the Manta Resort pushes the rank toward the top of my list. Manta is best known for its dreamy underwater room, where you sleep on a submerged houseboat with windows that look out to the sealife that the ocean teems with here. However, the island suites are also gorgeous and look out onto a beach with some of the best snorkeling in the world. Manta has a conservation program that is more robust than most hotels, and the resort exists for the sole purpose of demonstrating that tourism can be a force for good for people and the environment.

Pemba Island can be reached via direct flights from Zanzibar and has similar weather, with July through September being the peak season. However, the island isn’t prone to extreme tides like Zanzibar.

4. Madagascar

Helicopter tour at Miavana / Courtesy of Time + Tide luxury Indian Ocean beach resort
Helicopter tour at Miavana / Courtesy of Time + Tide

When I say Madagascar, I’m really talking about Miavana, one of the world’s top luxury resorts. It’s located on Nosy Anko, an island off the northeast coast meticulously rewilded by Time + Tide, the resort’s operators. Over 100,000 trees were planted during the construction to create a habitat for rare lemurs. The large villas are all beachfront with private plunge pools and butlers, and the surrounding waters are ideal for fishing and snorkeling. They have recently opened Tsara Komba, a smaller sister resort that offers a more barefoot luxury experience.

Madagascar is most easily reached via flights from Nairobi or Johannesburg, and an additional helicopter flight from Diego Suarez or Nosy Be airports is required to get to Miavana. The weather in Madagascar mirrors that in South Africa, with a dry winter from April to November and a wet summer season.

5. KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Thonga Beach Lodge

The coast of KwaZulu Natal is wild and remote compared to the rest of South Africa, and my favorite beach getaways in the country are here. Thonga Beach Lodge is a thatched resort in iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the Indian Ocean with as much style as anything in Mozambique. Gwe Gwe Beach Lodge is a unique hideaway on South Africa’s “Wild Coast,” south of Durban. Their protected reserve offers a light safari with zebras and antelope near waterfalls flowing directly into the ocean. These locations are ideal for whale watching from the shore from May to November.

Both properties can be accessed via flights into Durban but are somewhat difficult to reach from there. Thonga requires a drive via 4×4, while Gwe Gwe can only be accessed by boat or light aircraft charter. The journey makes them all the more appealing, though. The weather here mirrors the rest of western South Africa, with a rainy summer season and a dry winter from May through early November.

6. Lamu, Kenya

Zanzibar is the most well-known spice island in the Indian Ocean, but Lamu on the northern Kenyan coast has a rich history and a laid-back atmosphere perfect for those looking to find a hidden gem. Lamu Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best-preserved Swahili settlements in Africa. After soaking up some culture, we like to end an itinerary on the beach at the quieter Manda Island at Manda Bay Lodge.

The Island can be reached on Safari Link flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport. The weather is similar to the rest of Kenya, with a short rainy season from mid-November to mid-December and a longer one from March through May.

7. Lake Malawi

Sailing at Kaya Mawa / Courtesy of Green Safaris luxury Malawi beach resort
Lake Malawi at Kaya Mawa / Courtesy of Green Safaris

Lake Malawi is an unexpected freshwater beach getaway in the warm heart of Africa, with crystal clear waters that rival the Caribbean. Unlike some of Africa’s other Great Lakes, Lake Malawi doesn’t have hippos or crocodiles, which makes it one of the best lakes for snorkeling and paddle boarding in the world. The southern part of the lake near Lake Malawi National Park is the most accessible, but we recommend taking the time to fly to Likoma Island in the northern part of the Lake near Tanzania. Here, you will find Kaya Mawa, possibly the peak of barefoot luxury, with a stunning beachfront location and an understated style that is hard to mimic.

The lake can be reached via Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, and the best time of year to visit is the dry season from May to November.

8. Western Cape, South Africa

Horseback riding at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve / Courtesy of Grootbos luxury South Africa Beach resort
Horseback riding at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve / Courtesy of Grootbos

If you prefer city time with your beach getaway, Cape Town is the place to go. You’ll find some of the best food in the world in this cosmopolitan city, and resorts like Last World Long Beach offer you direct access to some of South Africa’s best surf. This can be combined with lodges further down the coast, like Grootbos and Lekkerwater Beach Lodge, if you are interested in coastal hikes filled with wildflowers and incredible right whale watching between June and December.

These resorts can all be reached via car from Cape Town. The rainy season in the Western Cape is opposite that of the greater Kruger National Park area, with the highest chances in winter between May and September.

9. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Kayaking at &Beyond Mnemba Island / Courtesy of &Beyond luxury Zanzibar beach resort
Kayaking at &Beyond Mnemba Island / Courtesy of &Beyond

The name Zanzibar conjures images of romantic beaches and spice traders, and the large island is one of the most popular beach destinations in Africa. However, we have mixed feelings about it. Stone Town is an interesting destination for history enthusiasts, but the beaches on the eastern shore of the island are packed tightly with resorts. The tides can also be extreme during certain seasons, putting your beachfront hotel about a quarter mile from the water. Still, the prices can be more reasonable, and there are ways to do the island right. The northwest corner of the island is more remote and sheltered, and resorts like Zuri and Kilindi are top-notch. Also, if you have the budget for a private island resort, &Beyond Mnemba Island is one of the most spectacular resorts in the Indian Ocean.

Zanzibar is easily accessed via direct flights from Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, and Nairobi. Mid-November to mid-December and March through May can be rainy, but the weather is relatively mild most of the year. July through September are the driest months, but it can be particularly windy in June and July.

10. Mauritius

Mauritius is a popular standalone beach getaway for Europeans because of the many direct flights, but this tropical island can also be a good option for honeymooners in South Africa looking for a tropical island with a wide range of hotel options. The island offers excellent snorkeling and endless palm-lined beaches. I really like the LUX brand of hotels here, which maintain an air of relaxation and exclusivity among the crowds while still offering a reasonable price point.

As mentioned, Mauritius can be accessed directly from Europe, which opens up creative flight routes and itineraries. There are also multiple flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

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