While most people associate holidays in Africa with safari, the Egyptian pyramids or bustling cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg – and while they’re all well worth a visit, this stunning continent has so much more to offer, including an abundance of idyllic Islands begging to be explored.
From eerie volcanic landscapes on the Canary Islands off Africa’s west coast to tropical paradises in Madagascar to the south, today’s post will run through 4 idyllic African islands that simply must be on everyone’s bucket list.
Zanzibar, also known as Unhyja, is the largest and most populated island of the Zanzibar archipelago. As a melting pot of African, Indian and Arab influence and a continental trading centre for centuries, the island boasts a rich history and culture, along with some of the most breathtaking beaches Africa has to offer.
Visitors are able to explore Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where they can get lost within the beautiful winding alleys, awestruck by the architectural marvels of Arab houses, bazaars and mosques. Alternatively, indulge in the island’s delicious fruits and spices while relaxing on the beautiful white sandy beaches, surrounded by the mesmerising turquoise sea.
Uninhabited until the arrival of the Dutch in 1598, Mauritius is a small, multicultural island in the Indian Ocean to the southeast of the Seychelles. Most famous as the only known natural habitat of the Dodo until its extinction just 80 years after initial European colonisation, the island is now best known for its sun-kissed beaches and blue lagoons.
Visitors can enjoy the diverse cuisines of English, Creole and European influence while they decide on which activity takes their fancy, and with almost 200 attractions and activities on offer, they’ll be completely spoilt for choice. From museums and natural reserves to extreme sports and reef exploration, there’s something for everyone on this unique volcanic island.
Nosy Be, Madagascar
Situated off the northwest coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be is a premier tourist destination that attracts thousands of visitors all year long – and for good reason, too. The island boasts crystal-clear waters and romantic tranquility, in addition to mouth-watering restaurants serving fresh seafood on the sand.
When exploring the island, be sure to stop by the sugar cane plantations and rum distilleries, as well as exploring some of the island’s extensive and exotic wildlife – although you may be pushed to find Alex the lion and the rest of the animated gang!
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Found just off the coast of West Africa, Lanzarote possesses unique volcanic landscapes and unobstructed island views, making it amongst the most scenic locations on this list.
Whether you’re keen to explore your adventurous side with surfing or deep-diving, or prefer to simply sit back and soak in the year-round sun in your Lanzarote villa, the island offers something for everyone. And with the unique combination of black and reddish rocks and tranquil atmosphere, it’s easy to feel like you’re on a totally different planet, making it the perfect destination for those romantic couples’ escapes.
When visiting Africa, it’s important not to forget about the surrounding islands, that possess just as much beauty, adventure and wonder as the continent itself.
Nick Ball is Marketing Manager at Optima Villas and has lived on the island of Lanzarote since 2001.
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