The number of amazing vacation destinations across the African continent is mind boggling, but some of the best options are just a bit further out – like in the middle of the ocean. The following African islands offer breathtaking opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Here are 10 African islands you should totally visit right now.
Sources: Travel.CNN.com, Touropia.com, TripAdvisor.com, CNTraveler.com
This tiny one-kilometer-long island in Lake Malawi National Park has never been populated, and can only accommodate up to 14 people in private tents. Those who manage to snag a spot will have the opportunity to swim and kayak in Lake Malawi’s crystal blue waters, explore hidden coves, scuba dive, and climb around the massive boulders that surround the island. Those looking for a romantic getaway couldn’t do much better, whether they’re looking for adventure or just a nap in a hammock on a pristine beach.
The archipelago of Zanzibar is 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, and its turquoise waters have been drawing visitors for decades. Beyond the beaches, however, Zanzibar also offers the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar City’s old quarter. Here visitors can explore the history and culture of the islands, learning about the fishing villages that formed the first communities.
Also known as Île Sainte-Marie, Nosy Boraha is an island just off the eastern coast of Madagascar, and is home to incredible scenery and sea life. But what sets Nosy Boraha apart is a unique pirate cemetery. The island was once a pirate retreat, and many are buried there with their tombstones marked by the traditional skull and crossbones. The waters around Nosy Boraha are mating grounds between July and September for humpback whales, giving visitors a special thrill.
The African island nation of Mauritius lies about 2,000 kilometers from the African mainland, smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean, but has developed a bustling culture all its own. Its capital, Port Louis, is a bustling port with a revitalized waterfront and market scene, but the island is also home to several popular resort areas such as Trou-aux-Biches and Flic en Flac. The island’s Rivière Noire is a hotspot for deep sea fishing, drawing fishing enthusiasts from all over the world.
Praslin Island in the Seychelles is full of fantastic beaches and intimate hotels, as well as rare bird species for the bird enthusiasts among us – the Seychelles bulbul and black parrot in particular. Praslin National Park in the south is home to the spectacular palm forests of the Vallée de Mai, and ancient coral reefs make for excellent scuba diving and snorkeling.
Off of the northwest coast of Madagascar, the large island of Nosy Be has a variety of tourist attractions including volcanic lakes, lemurs, rum distilleries, ylang ylang plantations, and spectacular coral reefs. Lokobe Nature Special Reserve is a main attraction, as is the four-day Donia Music Festival, drawing music lovers to the island every May.
Boa Vista, the easternmost island of Cape Verde, is known for the red and tan sand dunes of the Deserto de Viana, as well as its pirate history, such as the Duque de Braganca Fort, built to protect the area from pirates. Visitors can explore the wreck of the Santa Maria, take a hike and see rare exotic birds, loggerhead turtles, or venture into the water to see the humpback whales that like to splash around close to the coast.
La Digue Island in the Seychelles has some of the most gorgeous pink granite rock beaches in the world, such as Anse Source d’Argent or Grand Anse, and its waters are absolutely ideal for snorkeling. The rare paradise flycatcher, a beautiful black bird, can be viewed at the Veuve Nature Reserve. There are few cars on the island — most locals and visitors travel by bicycle or oxcart.
Ilha Do Sal in the Cape Verde islands — also just known as Sal — is truly a beach-lovers’ paradise with its white sands, turquoise waters, and numerous opportunities for sunbathing and water sports. Visitors can choose to snorkel or scuba dive among the tropical fish, turtles, and dolphins, or sample some of the cuisine and nightlife in Santa Maria, the island’s main town. Sal also boasts the Terra Boa mirage, an optical illusion that makes it seem as though there is an enormous peaceful lake in the middle of a large flat plain.
Very few roads exist on Lamu Island, part of Kenya’s Lamu Archipelago. Island buildings are made of coral stones and mangrove timber, and getting around is almost entirely by way of alleys and trails. Lamu Old Town is the main town on the island, and is one of the best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa, offering unique cultural activities for those looking for something beyond a beach vacation.
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