Crushing Expectations on Ibo Island, Mozambique

Crushing Expectations on Ibo Island, Mozambique

After an indescribably long journey from the U.S. to this untouched corner of Africa, I was happy to finally reach my hotel on Ibo Island, Mozambique

The trip began like so many of my African adventures.

Taking off from Pemba, on the mainland of Northern Mozambique, I watched the tangled trails of well-worn footpaths snaking across the red earth below. Flying low over the sprawling Quirimbas archipelago, the colors of the water shifted from deep blue to light turquoise and back again.

We arrived by small aircraft on Ibo Island, a three-mile long island in northern Mozambique, bouncing to a landing on a quaint grass airstrip.

After being quickly collected at the airstrip, the morning quickly heating up, we piled into the back of an open air Land Cruiser and bumped our way into town a short way to the hotel; the stunning Ibo Island Lodge.

Ibo Island, extremely untouched by the outside world, is remote and continues to survive as it has for hundreds of years including fishing, silversmithing and living off the island. However, this island has great historical significance dating back as early as 600AD when Arab merchants set up trading posts here for gold, ivory and slaves to be shipped to the Arab world.

Over the next few days, as I explored this historic, remote corner of Africa, Ibo Island crushed my expectations left and right.

I had anticipated the calm, clear archipelago waters for which Mozambique is known. Instead I was met with a large tidal bay, rocky and well-worn as fishermen coming and going all day long; the island’s activity hub. My bedroom looked right out on this bay, and watching this important community hub was endlessly fascinating. So much so, that I didn’t miss the fact that lounge chairs and beach umbrellas were not part of this beach experience.


Where I looked forward to learning a bit about the history of the island’s contribution to trade on the Indian Ocean coast, I ended up learning so much more. During an amazing walking tour of the island, organized by Ibo Island Lodge, we learned the history but also met a number of local characters on our journey. We explored old forts packed with piles of paperwork documenting the slave trade and other happenings on the island over the past few centuries. The entire island was a living museum more vibrant than I could ever have imagined.

And finally, I wasn’t expecting to discover such a unique culture and community. But once again, my cultural curiosity was awakened here on Ibo Island as I met a parade of interesting and colourful characters across the island. I bought coffee from a local entrepreneur who harvested the island beans and roasted them in his yard. We met the cantankerous witch doctor who serves the community. Local children followed us as we wandered around the village wearing smiles from ear to ear.

While my pre-trip expectations were focused on warm weather and the Indian Ocean, my experience on Ibo Island was the perfect balance of authentic culture and laid-back relaxation. For travellers looking to get off the beaten path, connect with a totally unique culture and enjoy staying right inside this vibrant community, Ibo Island is the place for you.

Blog post by Sarah Fazendin

A travel blog about the moments that count.

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