The Bazaruto Archipelago lies some 10 to 15 kms offshore of Vilanculos in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane.
It consists of five islands, Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise), Bazaruto (the largest by a long way), Benguerra, Margaruque and Bangue and was gazetted as a Marine National Park in 1971. Some 3500 people, mostly involved in fishing, inhabit the islands (supported by a number of fresh water lakes on each island).
Both Bazaruto and Benguerra islands have hotels offering exclusive beach getaways. Scuba diving is very good (both the 2 and 5 mile reefs), as is deep sea fishing, reef and fly fishing, and snorkelling. Also worth a mention is the beautiful Pansy Island, a sand spit which occurs during low tide between the two islands. Pansy is also home to a small invertebrate which produces the lovely pansy shell. Most lodges are located on the calmer western side of each of the islands, away from the prevailing easterly winds.
From Beira southwards past Vilanculos and the capital Maputo, towards the South African border, there are numerous small beach hideaways, and areas that have developed as beach destinations. Best known of these is Imhabane, which is known for its excellent scuba diving including chances to see whale sharks and manta rays. Further south there are some pleasant places to stay in Vilanculos and a few more remote lodges accessible from Maputo.