Lost in Time, Full of Magic
Tucked away at the mouth of Mossuril Bay off the coast of Mozambique lies the country’s tiny island namesake, the Island of Mozambique. Known as Ilha de Moçambique, or simply Ilha to locals, this small coral island in the Indian Ocean was once a trading post giant, the wealthy heart of maritime trade routes and the capital of Portuguese-ruled East Africa for centuries. The resulting mix of Arab, Indian, and Portuguese influences from this era earned Ilha a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique architecture and made an indelible stamp on the life and culture here.
If it feels untouched, that’s because it largely has been, since the capital moved to the mainland in 1907. You may wonder if you’ve found paradise. This is a place where warm smiles come easy and the whole place has the hue of a permanently applied rose-gold filter.
Tied to the mainland by a 3.8-mile (2.4-mile) bridge, the island is easily explored in a day, but its charms are best taken in at an easy pace befitting its natural stride, strolling narrow streets among the more than 400 historical buildings from the colonial period. Or, take a boat trip for a picnic lunch to nearby beautiful Bazaruto Island, with its white-sand beaches and stunning sand dunes.