So, when the bumpy hill we’d been shimmying down finally came to an end and the packed Quantum’s door slid open, it’s safe to say that no sea breeze had ever felt quite so divine on my skin, nor sounded so soothing, rustling through the tops of the palm trees.
Yup, folks, there really is no quick and easy way to get to remote and romantic Mozambique, but once you’re there, it’s magic!
Massinga beach lodge
Located about 89km north of the sleepy coastal city of Inhambane, Massinga Beach is a perfect middle-of-nowhere paradise. At first glance it seems like nothing more than a series of attractive wooden cabins overlooking an endless stretch of Indian Ocean. A quaint holiday village huddling on a high-up dune.
However, the simplicity of the surroundings can be rather deceiving, as I found when stepping into the effortless elegance of the luxury suite I’d been given for the weekend. From the mosquito net-draped king size bed to the airy open plan bathroom and, of course, the generous balcony with its perfect square of blue water – everything beckoned with come-hither eyes I simply couldn’t resist.
The only problem? There was an ‘I’ and not an ‘us.’
I know, I know. And I can hear you saying: “Why not just throw a mini pity party?” I tend to agree.
Believe me, not having someone specific to while away my time with isn’t really something I break my head or heart about too often.
However, when you find yourself in a foreign land, surrounded by nooks and crannies just bursting with romantic potential on all sides, it kind of sucks not having, well, ‘someone specific’ to share it with. *Sigh.*
Close enough to airports and main roads to be reached without too much hassle (apart from the fact that it does take some time – but that’s all part of the journey, right), yet isolated enough not to attract crowds, it really comes as no surprise that Massinga Beach Lodge is pretty much honeymoon heaven.
Apart from that, the lodge has also been set up in such a way to exude island-style romance. Each wooden suite comes standard with a large open-plan bathroom, sun deck and splash pool – all looking out over a beach that stretches well beyond what the eye can see… and no way for neighbours to accidentally spot your parading around in the buff.
Already a proven favourite for honeymoons, Massinga Beach Lodge is also offering guests who didn't recently tie the know, a Valentine’s special for the month of February, which includes accommodation in an Ocean Front Deluxe room, all meals, and complimentary airport transfer to and from the lodge.
Although chances are good you wouldn’t need to be entertained during your romantic getaway, the lodge does offer a great selection of activities... just in case.
Fingers reef – Located about 4km down the beach from the lodge, Fingers reef – so named for its five rocky outcrops – is a spectacular spot for snorkeling, swimming and having a secluded picnic.
One of my favourite memories from the trip is swimming in one of the narrow water passages and listening to the water forming tiny falls as the tide pulled back into the ocean. If connection with the greater universe is what you're after, a swim at Massinga Beach could very well be your answer.
Beach bar – while the lodge does run a full service bar at the reception and restaurant area, heading down the dune just a little way and sipping a Rum and Raspberry at the quaint little beach bar comes highly recommended.
They also serve light lunches and snacks and a large pool provides the perfect spot to wash away the salt and sand before heading back to your accommodation for a late afternoon nap.
Coconut demonstration – In Mozambique, coconuts are big. Not only physically, but their role in the local economy is massive! While you may think coconuts have little use apart from providing quaint cups for cocktails and dried shavings for baking, the truth is that not even one hairy husk of the tropical fruit goes to waste in Mozambique.
In order to give guests a little insight into the fascinating coconut trade, Massinga Beach Lodge offers a daily demonstration where one of the local members of staff explains how every morsel holds some sort of use. The husks often provide a cost-effective replacement for foam in furniture, the oil is used in cooking, the fruit itself is delicious to eat, or make juice from, which in turn is magnificent in cocktails… which are presented beautifully post-demonstration.
What’s more, you can actually OWN a coconut tree in Mozambique! In fact, when Massinga Beach acquired the beach-front property, they had to buy ALL the coconut palms on it as well – close to 3 000 at about R500 each.
Shopping - Yes, you read that right! The lodge has an allocated space for a selected group of vendors to set up shop and sell their wares, including colourful sarongs, dresses, shorts, rustic jewelry and cute wooden carvings.
If you're big on taking gifts to loved ones back home after going on a trip, this will really be a life-saver, as chances are pretty good you won't really have much time to browse the Inhambane market on your way to or from Massinga. What's also great is the fact that the vendors accept Rands... and love a good bit of haggling.
Massinga Beach Lodge offers 16 Ocean Front Deluxe rooms – these (described earlier) are perfect for couples, honeymooners and romantics.
Ocean View suite (Sean Furlong)
The 12 Ocean View suites are great for family holidays, as a sleeper couch offers extra bed space in the lounge, as well as two bathrooms (one fully kitted and the other featuring a toilet and shower). They also have the capacity to accommodate an extra bed.
All rooms and suites come standard with bath robes, a safe, hairdryer, torch (lights go off round 10pm, when the generator goes off duty), tea, coffee and a fully stocked mini bar.
As mentioned earlier, it really isn’t easy to get to Massinga Beach Lodge, which is kind of part of its charm. The most tried and tested method of getting there includes a LAM Mozambique Airlines flight from OR Tambo International to Inhambane International, which lasts approximately one hour, give or take 10 minutes.
After a short drive around town, hop aboard Massinga’s awesome catemaran, have a drink or two, and make your way across the bay to a bus waiting on the other side. Once you board the bus, it’s a little more than an hour’s drive along a palm-lined highway, followed by a bumpy 10km long gravel road that will lead you right to the lodge’s front door (only suitable for 4x4 vehicles).
The lodge’s management recently acquired a 10-seater charter plane, which provides a great (though slightly more expensive) alternative to the commercial flight. They also plan on making it a key component in new bush-and-beach packages combining a stay at Massinga Beach Lodge with a 2-day stopover in the lowveld.
Check out the Massinga Beach Lodge website for more details.
Castelo do Mar
So, Massinga Beach sound pretty amazing if you're the romantic type, but you're actually looking for something more family friendly and action packed?
We highly recommend Massinga's sister property, Castelo do Mar. Located on the tip of the northern peninsula in the Bay of Inhambane in the area known as Linga Linga, Castelo is slightly easier to reach, but no less magical.
Where Massinga's endless stretch of beach is wild and unpredictable, the bay on which Castelo fronts is calm and inviting - perfect for swimming, snorkeling and long, lazy days aboard a boat of your choice - catamaran, dhow or yacht.
With a large games room, bar and communal swimming pool, the lodge takes on the charm of a holiday resort, while maintaining a sense of exclusivity.
The highlight of our overnight stay at Castelo was definitely a catamaran cruise to and picnic lunch off-shore the mystical Pansy Island - renowned for its abundance of breathtaking shells, specifically the fragile and picturesque Pansy shell.
To find out more about Castelo's accommodation, activities and rates, visit their website.
Currency: Metical, but Rands are widely accepted
Exchange rate: R0.36/metical
Safety: After a recent outbreak of violence in parts of the country, people have been worried that it may affect visitors. The violence has, however, been concentrated mainly in the northern parts of Mozambique, well away from the southern areas that are favoured by tourists (especially from South Africa). Visitors are always encouraged to be vigilant and stick to rules - especially road safety rules - as corrupt officials and petty crime is a concern.