Vamizi Island is part of the idyllic Quirimbas Archipelago, in the far northern extreme of Mozambique. Opened in 2005, Vamizi Island Lodge is a collection of 13 one- or two-bedroom timber villas strung loosely along one of the world’s most beautiful beaches on a slender coral island just off a remote coastline.
With this being the only lodge on the island – it’s just 12 kms long and 1 km wide – think exclusive. Each villa overlooks the beaches and the full ocean views. In addition, there are three 5-bedroom villas, each with a plunge pool. (Plans are afoot to build two more for private investors.) Actor Daniel Craig recently left a note on the island saying that a piece of his heart remained here.
And no wonder. For water lovers, this is the place to head, with some of the best diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing in the world.
The waters teem with a bewildering array of sea life, with over 400 species of fish alone – from whales, dolphins, turtles and reef sharks to some 46 types of coral and giant clams. There are also giant coconut crabs (whose claws can crush anything from cell phones to coconuts), samango monkeys and 112 species of birds.
The entire Vamizi Island is a conservation project. It is supported by a group of idealists whose dream was to have tourism work for nature. Over a decade ago, they believed this undeveloped and unprotected area to be of huge natural significance as a marine nursery and sanctuary for the whole Mozambican coast. There is a strict no-fishing area within 3 kms of the beach at Vamizi.
The Vamizi Island Project (previously the Maluane Project) and the WWF Partnership combine tourism with wildlife conservation and community development to protect this unspoilt area. The Vamizi Island project has recently finished building a clinic and a school on the island for local families. Three villages on the eastern tip of the island make up the island’s 1,500 population, many of whom fled here from the 1990s civil war on the mainland.
The lodge owners believe education is key, and a range of educational programs have been put in place that include environmental programs for staff and schoolchildren.
A women’s association formed in 2005 is involved in a number of projects – handicrafts, dancing, theatre, agriculture and the supply of regional produce for the lodge. Local supply groups have also been formed to help source regional products and to ensure that any future investment stays on the island which helps further development. There policy is, where possible, to employ people from Vamizi or neighboring coastal villages.
Vamizi Island also has a permanent conservation team, under the supervision of the WWF Vamizi Project, that supports conservation activities, such as turtle monitoring. Vamizi’s turtles have eight full-time rangers and a marine biologist looking after them. They protect nests, nurture hatchlings, spread the turtle news through the local community, and encourage the island’s guests to get involved.