This week as winter arrived in the UK and Christmas decorations hit the shops, here in Head Office we were all dreaming of sunny beaches in faraway places. Over a nice hot cup of tea we were chatting about places we’d been to and the places still on our to-do list. It turned out to be quite an eclectic mix but then we are quite an eclectic mix of people! That got us to discussing the merits of beaches in Africa versus the rest of the world and we came to the conclusion that Africa offers some truly world beating beaches. So here is our Top Ten:
1. Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar
Found in the north-west of the island this quiet and unspoilt beach has few hotels along it making it a hidden gem. The beach offers glorious white soft sand and an amazing aqua-marine coloured water – truly a tropical paradise.
2. Mnemba Island, Tanzania
This is a very small, privately owned island of the coast of Tanzania surrounded by a coral reef and amazing underwater life. The interior of the island is totally unspoilt and wild and covered in pine trees. The lodge on the island is a truly luxurious retreat and it’s a great place for a getaway honeymoon.
3. Noordhoek Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
This is not a swimmers beach but to my mind it’s one of the most scenic. The rough, crashing breakers hit the shore having travelled across the Atlantic creating a very dramatic scene. The beach is long and sandy surrounded by greenery and is fantastic for walking or horse-riding. One to blow the cobwebs away.
4. Quirimba National Park, Mozambique
Another glorious white sandy beach with turquoise waters on the Indian Ocean coast of Africa. This area is little known outside a few Africa aficionados but it boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world combined with a fabulous laid back atmosphere. Being a national park the scenery is unspoilt and teeming with wildlife.
5. Oualidia, Morocco
North Africa surprisingly offers some great beaches. Those who fancy some water-sports such as wind and kite surfing should head to the Atlantic coast around Essaouira for some world beating action. However if you are looking for somewhere calmer this natural lagoon, protected from the Atlantic rollers by enormous cliffs offers a great beach destination.
6. Lamu Beach, Kenya
This is a huge 8 mile stretch of warm, soft, white sand with inviting turquoise waters, teeming marine wildlife and peaceful tranquillity. The waters of the Indian Ocean tickle your toes as you float by on a traditional dhow. This area is known for its “barefoot” or rustic luxury. (At the moment we are not recommending travel to Lamu as close to the Somali border.)
7. Laguna, Bay of Dahab, Egypt
Unlike most of the heavily built-up resorts on the Red Sea, Laguna is quieter and more laidback with Bedouin cafes and a hippy atmosphere. The beach is a glorious stretch of sand about 30 miles north of Sharm and is a good base for water-sports. You still feel you are in Egypt as you are surrounded by the amazing Egyptian scenery of the desert and the Sinai Mountains.
8. Île Aux Nattes, Madagascar
If you are after a true Robinson Crusoe getaway then this maybe your island. There are no cars or roads and only a couple of cafes on this tiny island but it’s home to some truly glorious wild beaches with the Indian Ocean all yours.
9. Djerba Island, Tunisia
A more familiar Mediterranean gem perhaps but this one offers the taste of Africa too. The beaches are white sand, the waters calm and blue and the atmosphere very laid back and friendly. This is a popular place so has a lively atmosphere especially in peak season. There are lots of cafes and restaurants to enjoy some fabulous seafood as well as some historic buildings such as forts to visit.
10. Likoma Island, Malawi
Now this one offers beaches on a lake rather than the coast but they are still of the white sand, turquoise water variety! Lake Malawi is an absolutely enormous lake, more like an inland sea. Likoma Island is just one of many areas to visit but it stands out with its gorgeous white beaches and two eco-friendly laid back resorts. It is very quiet with a handful of cars and limited accommodation. You can also do some watersports such as kayaking or snorkelling here.
And an extra one because we couldn’t go without mentioning it!
11. Curralinho Beach, Boa Vista, the Cape Verde Islands, West Africa
These islands lie off the coast of Senegal in West Africa but have a distinctly Brazilian – Portuguese flavour. With fabulous food, music and a very friendly, warm welcome these islands are a great place to visit to escape a European winter. The best beach is the huge, white-sandy Curralinho beach on Boa Vista with its warm waters, great diving and surfing opportunities. Boa Vista means great view in Portuguese and it’s truly apt as this place is stunning.