Almost all travellers heading out to the Bazaruto Archipelago will pass through Vilanculo to access the islands. This means that the coastal town is often overlooked as a destination in its own right. It doesn’t offer the sheer remoteness of the Bazaruto islands, and its beaches aren’t as breathtakingly pristine. However, very few beaches in the world are as gorgeous as the Bazaruto beaches, and Vilanculos has a lot of local interest. Additionally, the town’s accommodation is very good value! So you could combine a stay in Vilanculos with a few nights off the coast, in the Bazaruto.
Vilanculos is situated in south-eastern Mozambique, on the country’s coastline and within the Vilanculos District of Inhambane Province. It has an international airport, which serves cities such as Maputo and Johannesburg.
History of Vilanculos:
The town is named after Gamela Vilankulo Mukoke, who was a local tribal chief. As it’s considered the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, Vilanculos attracts a lot of travellers and has received significant investment into its tourism infrastructure.
Properties in Vilanculos usually serve as a base for exploring not only the town and surrounds, but also the Bazaruto islands. Here are a few examples of activities available:
- Beaches – With their pure white sands and sparkling turquoise waters, the beaches of Vilanculos really are special.
- Town visits – Wander through Vilanculos’ markets… go for a meal and drinks at a nearby restaurant… interact with the friendly locals… the town has a lot of character and you can enjoy immersing yourself in local life here.
- Scuba diving – Staff at local properties are happy to arrange scuba diving excursions for you, through a local PADI centre. The Bazaruto and Vilanculos area is famous for its treasure trove of colourful corals and other sea life, such as clown fish, parrot fish, green and hawksbill turtles, dolphins, dugong, and migrating whales.
- Snorkelling – This is a dream destination for snorkellers too! Venture out at low tide, and you can have fun spotting all sorts of marine marvels below the waves.
- Sport fishing – This activity is also organised through local companies. Keen anglers can fish for an astonishing variety of species, among them giant black marlin, broadbill, sailfish, wahoo, and king mackerel. And a mixture of methods is offered, from ultra light tackle spinning to heavy tackle big game fishing!
- Kite surfing – Both lessons and kite safaris are possible, the latter offering opportunities to spot rays, dolphins, and whale-sharks while surfing. The islands of Bazaruto provide superb conditions for this sport.
- Horse riding – See it all from the saddle when you embark on an equine adventure along the Vilanculos coastline – serene stretches of beaches, idyllic inland lakes, and the pearl necklace of the archipelago, viewed from the high red sand dunes beside the shore.
- Fat bikes – Alternatively, hop up onto a fat bike – a bike with gigantic tyres – and go for a super-scenic cycle ride over the sands.
- Tuk-tuk tours – A tuk-tuk is a motorised version of the traditional cycle rickshaw. Jump aboard one of these, and you can cover a lot of ground, taking in all the sights of Vilanculos and surrounds.
Time/s of year to travel:
The best time to travel to Vilanculos is the period from May to October, as this is dry season. April and November are good. However, December through to March sees the rains sweep in, bringing uncomfortably high humidity – we tend not to advise travelling to the area during these months of the year.
Please contact a member of our team to discuss a trip to Vilanculos. It really is a superb option if you’re after a good-value beach vacation – and it’s also brilliant for budget-conscious travellers seeking a diverse and interesting beach experience by combining the town with a trip to the Bazaruto Archipelago.