Discovering Africa: The Inhaca Island
IMAGE: Inhaca Island »
Out in Maputo Bay, there is a small escape that beckons across the waters where you can enjoy tranquility, explore marine life, discover tropical birds, and relax on white sand beaches. Inhaca Island is a sheltered island getaway which is a port of call for yachts, sailboats and cruise ships. If you’re visiting Mozambique and need a break from touring the busier cities, then you can seek out a tropical break in the crystal waters at Inhaca Island.
There was once a tie when Inhaca was part of the mainland, but, thanks to changes in currents and rising sea levels, the island got separated and now lies about 40k offshore from Maputo. The island has six settlements – Inhaca, the town on the western shore, is the largest and there are five villages; Iguane, Nhaquene, Ridjeni and Tobia. Ponta Punduine, which is at the south west of the island, and Ponta Torres, which faces the mainland to the south east.
Inhaca Island, in addition to be the perfect place for a weekend getaway, also happens to be an important marine research centre, most popular for its offshore coral reefs. Because the reefs are considered to be among the most southerly in the world, parts of the island and its surrounding waters have been designated a reserve in order to protect them and the local marine life.
If you sail about 3km northwest of Inhaca, you’ll find a tiny, uninhabited Portuguese Island known as Ilha dos Portuguêses, It’s a stunning white patch of sand surrounded by crystal clear waters. The island was formerly a leper colony and is now part of the Inhaca marine reserve system. At the South end of Inhaca, across a narrow channel at the tip of Machangula Peninsula, is Cape Santa Maria. The cape’s quiet beaches and azure waters make it an ideal place for snorkeling and can be accessed by boat from Inhaca or a direct boat from Maputo.
Inhaca Island’s total population comes up to about 6,000 people surviving on agriculture and fishing. When the tides are low, the women harvest crabs, oysters and fish, while the men seize higher tides as an opportunity to go deep sea fishing.
The sun-soaked sandy beaches of Inhaca Island make it a popular winter destination among South African tourists. Who wouldn’t enjoy a peaceful tropical island where you can observe playful Dolphins in the ocean, and local fishing boats navigating their way through pristine and warm blue waters while relaxing on the beach? At Inhaca Island, time can stand still as you take in beautiful landscape – high sand dunes along beaches, palm-lined paths on the island’s interior, cultivated fields and grassy plains to the north, evergreen forests and dunes along the eastern and western shores, and wide mudflats along the southern and western shores at low tide. And that’s not all. The highest point of the island is called Mount Inhaca and rises 104 meters above sea level on the north-eastern shore line. This is such an amazing place to start or round-up your Mozambique adventure.
If you get tired of just lounging around, you could visit the museum of natural history and the marine research station which are located in the south side of Inhaca. You’ll find a really interesting bug collection at the museum, as well as various specimens of the island’s flora and fauna. You could also explore the mangroves at the northern coast and Saco Bay, and be completely amazed by the species of water birds that inhabit the area.
Several types of accommodations and tour packages are available for you should you wish to visit this beautiful island, and most are tailored to suit your budget.
Article Credit: Ventures-africa