The key topping to any fantastic family holiday? The seaside!
Africa is the place to find the bleached sand and gently undulating waters that will entertain children for hours. Grown ups will love the sparkling private pools, ridiculously tuned-in butlers, and fresh seafood from the ocean at every turn.
Mozambique, Mauritius and the Seychelles all offer year-round sunshine, but they do suffer from wind and rain at times, along with a bit of harmless, but unsightly seaweed.
The best times to go are often April and November, when the weather is unusually calm as the seasons change.
Broadly speaking, May – September is the cooler dry winter, Oct/Nov and April are the ‘cross-over’ periods which tend to bring very calm and friendly weather, and November kicks off the rainy season which last until about March.
The rains in Mozambique, Mauritius and the Seychelles are not the kind of rains we endure in the UK, but more like scattered showers with consistently warm/humid temperatures. However, this season can bring grey skies for a prolonged period, with rain and wind which can feel cold.
We don’t want to put you off, but sadly we haven’t found a way of guaranteeing sunshine for our guests just yet (we’re working on it).
With the Seychelles, there tends to be more rain on the bigger islands of Mahe and Praslin because they are hilly, so head for the smaller islands during the rainy season.
Mozambique stretches a considerable distance and so its northern and southern rainy season patterns are distinct. The southern coastal section of Mozambique has a shorter rainy season than the north, with most of the rain falling in Jan/Feb whereas the north tends to experience the full Dec – March.
Mauritius (and, to a lesser extent, the Seychelles and Mozambique) can get particularly windy during the winter (May to September).
This is great for windy watersports, but may not be so great for all the family – waves can pick up volume and wind can be generally irritating.
We recommend sticking to the north and western side of Mauritius if you want to avoid the wind during this time. The wind comes from the North-West from December through to March but these winds are usually gentle and warm, and as the east coast is pretty much always windy, we’d generally recommend the west coast throughout the year.
Regarding Mozambique, head for a resort which is protected from the south east and faces north/north west, such as Azura / Andbeyond Benguerra.
These south-east trade winds that blow in the cool winter of May – September bring more than just wind – they tend to wash up seaweed.
The key places that this can happen are Southwest Mahé and Praslin in the Seychelles, the south and east coast of Mauritius, and on some Mozambique beaches.
The good news is plentiful:
- The seaweed won’t hurt you (not even if you throw it at your children, we’ve discovered);
- Many resorts and hotels will actually head out before you are awake in the morning, and clear the beach for you.
Think Robinson Crusoe-meets-Audrey Hepburn when it comes to the beaches of Mozambique. The locations are remote and wild but the accommodations are fabulously stylish, whether it’s shabby chic or exuberant luxury.
Where to go
Mozambique’s best family beach destinations
The North – Quirimbas Archipelago & Nampula
The sparkling Quirimbas Archipelago (group of islands) lies off the far northern coast of Mozambique. It’s not the easiest place to get to (fly into Pemba from Dar or Jo’burg) and then pick up a short air charter), but the resorts up here absolutely make the journey worthwhile.
Our Northern Mozambique family favorites:
- Andbeyond Vamizi Island – probably our top choice for those with the budget. Vamizi’s private villas have been designed for families and there are loads of activities to keep the family as active as it wants to be.
- Azura Quilalea – this is a seriously top-class exclusive resort which does cater for families, but it’s not the place to go with loads of noisy kids as you’re likely to be somewhat banished to your villa, and as you can only have one child sharing a villa with you, this could get very pricey.
- Nuarro Lodge – a relatively simple beach lodge in the Nampula region, but tons of watersports and activities for slightly older kids; this is absolutely the place to dive.
- Coral Lodge – it’s all about the kids at Nampula’s Coral Lodge, and there’s even an English-speaking nanny for childcare if you’ve decided that your littlest ones deserve a holiday too.
The South – Bazaruto
The south is slightly more developed than the north but this has little effect on visitor numbers anywhere that we’d recommend you stay. The resorts are usually reached by flying in to Vilanculos and picking up a helicopter transfer onwards to the accommodation – an experience in itself!
Our Southern Mozambique family recommendations:
- Azura Benguerra – part of the Azura group which focuses wholeheartedly on beautiful design and ridiculously high levels of service. This is a great place for kids as the staff go out of their way to provide activities when interest in beach life wanes..
- Andbeyond Benguerra – castaway picnics and riding on the beach, you won’t see your children for the whole holiday if you’re not careful.
With a bountiful natural landscape and exotic reefs along the coastline, Mauritius is the place for total R&R for the grown ups, with safe and happy kids roaming the resort where they’ll find playfulness and infinity pools at every turn (most resorts have kids’ clubs too).
Mauritius is totally within most people’s comfort zones, very well developed with high standards, and is a year-round sun destination.
Where to go
Mauritius’ best family beach destinations
These are a selection of the resorts we think are the best for families, but it’s not an exclusive list!
- Dinarobin – on the family-focused west coast, the hotel feels small smaller than it is, and exclusive, because it makes great use of its 50 acre tropical garden. It shares its neighbour’s facilities including an 18 hole golf course, so activities are on tap when you want them.
- Sugar Beach Resort – this is a good value but busier west coast resort, but we recommend it for the great kids club and evident focus on children without ignoring its adult guests!
- Zilwa Attitude – this is also a good value west coast resort, and feels more like an island resort than most on Mauritius (even though it has 214 rooms).
- Le Prince Maurice – situated on the east coast, this is a fab choice for a family holiday on Mauritius if you go when it’s not too windy: the beach-front villas are private, but the main resort has a great kids’ club and action when you feel like it.
The Republic of Seychelles is a group of 115 of the most stunning islands, delightfully stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The islands are a glorious paradise scattered around the main island of Mahe, offering some mouth-watering options for a family holiday.
Mahé is where you’ll find the most resorts, and there are too many to even begin to mention. A word of warning: while we recommend the top resorts in class as standard, we feel that in the Seychelles it is particularly important to go with our advice.
The mid-range resorts, we feel, are not worth the high price tag.
International flights land at Mahé. It’s then a short chopper or boat ride to reach the inner or outer islands.
Mahé top family accommodations
- Constance Ephelia – this is a big resort but you really won’t feel it. Activities include a climbing wall and zip wire(!), along with all the usual beach sports, and of course there’s a kids club. We love this place!
- Mahé Four Seasons – free ice cream on the beach at 5pm every day? Yes please. Everything about this place is fab – from the spa’s location atop a hill, to the sailing, yoga, rock climbing and cookery in the Kids for All Seasons Club.
- Banyan Tree – an exclusive resort of just 60 private pool villas (small for the Seychelles), this feels much more remote than the other Mahe resorts.
Other islands top family accommodations
- Fregate Island Resort– if we had only one beach holiday left, this would be our ‘last supper’. It’s nothing short of perfect: 17 native mahogany villas spread out in privacy, each with infinity pool, day bed and jacuzzi. Children’s activities are centred around the Castaway clubhouse and the coordinator personalizes adventures for your kids.
- North Island Resort– if it’s good enough for the Prince and Princess of Wales, we reckon it’s good enough for us. It’s so effortlessly beautiful and, to top it off, it’s seriously environmentally conscious too (all the islands are nature reserves and have to be looked after, but North Island goes a big step further). The kids can get involved in environmental activities that won’t feel like learning, as well as pure fun treasure hunts, bead making, biking, snorkeling, body boarding etc.
- L’Archipel Hotel – Praslin Island This is a lovely resort on the Seychelles’ second largest, but considerably more relaxed, Praslin island. With 32 suites, it’s not a boutique hotel but it’s certainly not one of the big boys typical of neighbouring Mahe. This is the place for fewer organised activities and a few more natural ones like hiking and beach-frollicking.
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