Ilha de Mozambique
Ilha de Mozambique © Stig Nygaard
Ilha de Mozambique (Mozambique Island) is an island in the Nampula Province of northern Mozambique, up the coast from Beira, with a fascinating historical heritage. It was the capital of Mozambique for nearly four centuries under Portuguese rule before the move to Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), and was used as a base for Arab traders long before that. It is not only a wonderful tourist destination in Mozambique, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ilha de Mozambique is an exquisite mix of old Portuguese and Muslim architecture, dividing old Stone Town in the north and Reed Town in the south. There is a great museum in the form of the Palacio Govierno, a big red building in Stone Town. Also worth seeing is the fort at the northern tip of the island, home to the Church of Nossa Senhora Baluarte, which is quite possibly the oldest surviving European building in the southern hemisphere, dating back to 1522. On a beach at the northern end of the island, there is a dive centre where visitors can take boat trips or just laze on the sand. For the more adventurous, a dhow can be taken to Chaga or Mossuril on the mainland to explore the coast. Requilias and Escondidino are two popular restaurants in Stone Town, and there are a number of local places serving fish and rice, or chima. One of the best options for accommodation is the campsite on the mainland, next to the bridge.
Transport: The tiny island is accessible via a bridge from the mainland. Because of its size, visitors won't have any trouble walking around the island; it's a 20-minute walk from end to end, and Gabriel's has bicycles for hire.