Everyone knows about Africa’s diverse wildlife and dramatic landscapes, but fewer people know about its islands and pristine coastlines. Jasreen Mayal Khanna reveals her list of the best spots to soak up the sun
Anse Source D’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles
Featured on numerous lists as one of the best beaches in the world, this idyllic cove has dramatic rock formations for envy-inducing Instagram posts. Take a ferry from Praslin Island and rent bikes from the dock; it’s a 20-minute ride from there to the beach.
Best for: Instagram addicts.
Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
If Miami came to Africa, it would look and feel like Camps Bay. Glamorous locals and in-the-know tourists frequent the suburb’s white-walled hotels and trendy bars. Café Caprice is a great spot for sundowners, known for its cocktails and weekend DJ nights. The Bungalow is an opulent and classy lounge with dramatic views; for delicious seafood, there’s nowhere better than Blues Restaurant & Bar.
Best for: The swish set.
Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Home to high-end resorts such as Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel and Essque Zalu Zanzibar, Nungwi is a long stretch of beach with sand as soft as talcum powder, set against a turquoise sea. Located at the northernmost tip of the island, it has plenty of beach bars and sea-facing restaurants. The watersport shops offer a variety of activities such as scuba diving.
Best for: Honeymooners.
Loango National Park, Gabon
From savannah and lagoons to forests and untouched beaches, Loango is quite different to your regular white-sand beach. It was nicknamed ‘the land of the surfing hippos’ because of the elephant, buffalo, gorillas, leopard and hippo seen strolling along the beach for their daily dose of Vitamin D. However, that’s not all the wildlife on offer. Visit from July to September and you’ll see humpback whales or from October to January to see turtles nesting. There are also many rare birds that flock to this area.
Best for: Adventurous wildlife enthusiasts.
This beach town on the west coast has a very laid-back vibe with a dash of history and culture thrown in. A walled city and Portuguese fort face the sea, which brings in strong winds, making Essaouira a hub for kitesurfing and windsurfing. If water isn’t your thing, browse the art galleries or bargain for cloth in the Medina. In the evening, stroll along the marina, which is full of fishermen’s boats selling fresh seafood; local stalls nearby will grill it for you, too.
Best for: A bohemian crowd and surfers.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Situated on Namibia’s northern coastline, this is unique because of its climatic conditions. The hot air of the Namib Desert meets the cold of the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in a thick fog that covers the area. The name originates from the fact that the beach is dotted with whale carcasses and shipwrecks that have run aground and sunk as a result of the mist.
Best for: History buffs.
Belle Mare, Mauritius
The impossibly blue ocean forms a crystal-clear lagoon near this 10km white-sand beach, making it a swimmers’ paradise. In addition, one of the most famous dive sites in the world, the Pass, is just offshore and there is a profusion of watersport options, such as windsurfing, water skiing, paragliding and more.
Best for: Water babies.
Tofo Beach, Mozambique
Being touted as ‘the next Goa’, this stretch of sand has everything you’d want for a beach holiday: good restaurants, hip nightlife, clean beaches and few crowds. For those who love active vacations, you can even ride a quad bike through the dunes and go diving or snorkelling to spot amazing and varied marine life such as humpback whales, sharks, manta rays and colourful fish.
Best for: Adventure junkies.
River # 2, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Rumoured to be the location for the Bounty advertisements of the 1970s, the white sand, blue waters and rolling green hills here make for a picture-perfect beach. You can go fishing with guides or eat some no-frills meals such as prawn kebab with spicy couscous, washed down with coconut water. Public loos, showers, beach security and car parking are all available.
Best for: Solitary souls.
Shela Beach, Lamu Island, Kenya
This 3km white-sand beach is an excellent mix of culture and relaxation on Kenya’s coast. The town has traditional architecture, 23 mosques, a museum and a fort, but the gorgeous blue in the distance invites you to do absolutely nothing. Affordable seaside restaurants only sweeten the deal.
Best for: Beach bums.