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Ilha de Mozambique, or just ‘Ilha’ as the locals say, is the heartbeat of the North with its colourful, vibrant culture and friendly people.


As the former capital of Mozambique it has an extra special place in the hearts and minds of all Mozambicanos (indeed the country took its name from the island rather than the other way round!) and the entire island is UNESCO World Heritage listed. At only 3 kilometres long and 500 metres wide, it’s the perfect size for getting around by bicycle and kayak.


Ilha was once a significant link in the centuries-old African trade route to India and Europe and the island remains entrenched in history. This fascinating past is enhanced and contrasted by its fabulous contemporary culture – a heady blend of Makhuwa traditions, coastal Swahili style, a dash of Indian spice and rounded off with Afro-European chic.


The sea continues to be central to Ilha life. Everyday, all manner of sea craft are plying the sparkling, aquamarine waters. From the tiny one person ‘kangaya’, to the bigger ‘ekalawa’, the ‘tindiri’ and the ‘mwathia’ to the graceful, old Swahili sailing dhows. Amongst all this dolphins frolic, whales pass by and lobster, octopus, lionfish and more tumble over colourful coral.


The island is divided into two halves known as Stone Town and Makuti Town. Stone Town comprises grand buildings built from coral and lime whereas in Makuti Town houses are traditionally constructed with mangrove sticks, thick mud and ‘makuti’ palm thatch rooves.


Very nearby to Ilha are the beautiful, uninhabited islands of Ilha de Goa, Ilha das Cobras and Ilha de Sete Paus, with their powdery white coral sands and secret lagoons glittering away like precious jewels in the sun. They are perfect for island hopping, snorkelling, picnics and even overnight camping.



  • Museum & Fortaleza visit

  • Ride a bike around the World Heritage City

  • Experience Tufo Dance performance

  • Snorkel local reefs

  • Sail aboard a traditional Swahili Dhow

  • Enjoy spectacular seafood and local speciality Matapa Siri-Siri

  • Explore Makuti Town & Night Market

  • Whale Watching July to September

  • Barefoot dance until dawn

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