Highlights and main attractions of Quirimbas National Park

Established in 2002, the Quirimbas National Park encompasses 7,500km² of mangrove forests, coral reefs and idyllic beaches along the northern coastline of Mozambique. While the park contains a significant inland area, which protects important elephant migration routes, it is perhaps best known for the postcard-perfect islands that make up the Quirimbas Archipelago. These islands are renowned for their natural beauty, with powdery white-sand beaches and turquoise waters teeming with diverse marine life.   

 

The 12 main islands and numerous atolls and coral islets of the archipelago provide essential habitats for sea turtles and migratory seabirds, as well as nursery areas for bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales. This, along with the abundance of tropical fish species that reside in the park’s rich coral reefs, make for some incredible diving experiences. Quirimbas is less developed for tourists than the Bazaruto Archipelago to the south, but offers a number of small, upscale beach resorts that are scattered across the islands.

 

The national park was set up to protect the diverse ecosystems of the region, and is committed to sustainable tourism which supports the local community.

Where is Quirimbas National Park?

exploring the archipelago

While comparable in terms of natural beauty, each of the islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago has a distinctive character which sets it apart, from the coral beaches of Medjumbe in the north to the ancient baobabs of Quilaluia in the south.

The archipelagos namesake and former capital, Quirimba Island, is carpeted in dense mangrove forest and coconut plantations, and is home to a sleepy fishing village that was once an important Arab trading port. During low tide, it is possible to walk across the sandbanks to the better-known Ibo Island. Seemingly unchanged since the 19th century, the crumbling colonial architecture is the only remaining indication of the turbulent history of this mysterious island, a melting pot of Swahili, Portuguese and African cultures.

South of Quirimba Island, the uninhabited Quilaluia Island is home to the exclusive Azura Quilalea Private Island resort. An idyllic island getaway, guests here can relax in a hammock underneath one of the islands giant baobab trees or go snorkelling alongside dolphins, turtles and colourful fish that can be found in the surrounding marine sanctuary. Further north, other popular diving destinations include the coral reefs of Medjumbe Island and Vamizi Island which, alongside the smaller Rongui and Macalóè islands, has set up a community-based conservation project to protect its unique underwater environment.

Setting off from Ibo Island, one of the best ways to explore the archipelago is sailing aboard a traditional Dhow boat.

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