Quirimbas Islands

Republic of Mozambique

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    The Quirimbas Islands lie in the Indian Ocean off northeastern Mozambique, close to Pemba, the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado. The archipelago consists of about 32 islands, including Ibo, Matemo, Mejumbe, Quirimba, Metundo, Quisiva, Vamizi Island and Rolas Island all going up to the Tanzanian border. Only four Quirimbas islands were permanently inhabited before 1975, the most important of which was Ibo. Each island is different, which makes travelling their length so rewarding.

    Seen from 4,000ft, the shapes and colours were mesmerising. Knots of land, thick with mangroves, ringed by white sand, spread their coral skirts beneath water so clear that you can almost see the turtles, Napoleon wrasse, morays, puffer fish, nudibranchs and bumphead parrotfish that help to make the Quirimbas one of the world’s top diving destinations.

    Their sight is a reminder of the story of the Quirimbas, occupied by Arabs from the 10th century, later controlled by the Portuguese, from whom Mozambique gained independence in 1975. Some of the islands are permanently inhabited; others are simply bases for fishermen. Most are simple in the extreme, a few have a natural water supply, and some are beginning to offer places to stay, as are places on the mainland, close by. Time to cease hovering between heaven and earthly paradise, and to explore.

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