Hidden like pirate treasure off Mozambique’s north coast, the islands of the Quirimbas archipelago conceal a multitude of secrets, from the brilliant coral reefs of Medjumbe to the ancient baobab trees of Quilaluia. But none of the 31 islands can equal mysterious Ibo, the archipelago’s de facto capital. Haunted by a tumultuous history, and now a bubbling blend of Portuguese, Swahili, Indian and African cultures, Ibo feels as though it fell into a stupor in the 1850s and has yet to awaken.
Elsewhere the Quirimbas are as much about natural beauty as history. Their soft white beaches, dotted with low-key, high-end resorts, are rightly legendary, while the bird and marine life, which can be seen on tranquil diving or walking excursions, is immense.
Today many of the southern islands, including Ibo and Matemo, are part of Quirimbas National Park, which also includes large inland areas on the fringing coastline.