Visit Africa's most idyllic island destinations

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

If you're in need of some winter sun, set out for a stay on one of the islands of Africa that's known to be soaked in sun at this time of year. Head west to Cape Verde or make the most of the southern hemisphere being in its summer months by travelling to Mauritius. Read on to discover why you should travel to these and other African islands during the colder months.

Cape Verde

Located off the west coast of mainland Africa in the central Atlantic Ocean, temperatures in this 10-island archipelago average around the mid-to late-twenties (degrees Celsius) during the winter months, with November through to March being the best time for water sports. Of the islands making up this nation, Sal (named after its history of salt mining), is often the first port of call for its golden beaches with the resort area of Santa Maria being best known for its array of restaurants and bars as well as its dramatic landscape of desert and salt flats.

International flights also enter the island of Boa Vista where long golden shores and rolling dunes fringe a barren landscape home to the main town of Sal Rei. By island hopping (short flights connect the islands) you can see the full diversity of this archipelago, from mountainous São Nicolau and Santo Antão to culturally rich São Vicente known for its music and the largest island, Santiago, where valleys and mountains meet the UNESCO old capital, Cidade Velha.

The Seychelles

The 115-island archipelago, made up of the most accessible inner islands and more remote outer islands, is a popular retreat for sun in the winter months. The main island of Mahé, neighbouring Praslin and many surrounding smaller islands, provide a base for uncovering the archipelago’s picture-postcard white-sand beaches and lush island-interiors home to wildlife like the Aldabra giant tortoise and both culinary and cultural highlights like the market of the small capital Victoria.

Of the most outstanding hotels found across the archipelago, you can opt to stay in a beach-front hideaway, such as Mango House, on the main island of Mahé or on one of the Seychelles’ renowned island resorts of which North Island and Six Senses Zil Pasyon stand out as two of the very best for combining the ultimate in barefoot luxury with a strong conservation and sustainability ethos.

São Tomé and Príncipe

The winter months are high season for these two lush mountainous islands in the Gulf of Guinea as they tend to be the warmest months of the year. An unspoiled landscape of rainforest, beach and spires of ancient rock provides the ideal environment for outdoor exploration on these islands also known as the African Galapagos for their biodiversity and abundance of endemic bird and butterfly species.

Fly between São Tomé and Príncipe to experience the deserted beaches and pristine natural environment of both islands making up this small remote nation. Canoe along rivers and through mangrove, snorkel off the coastline or hike to viewpoints and natural landmarks like waterfalls and a volcanic crater in the wilderness of wildlife-rich Obô National Park.

Turtles nest on the shores of São Tomé throughout the winter months and year-round exploration of the islands includes insight into the African and Portuguese culture and cuisine. Beach lodges provide a laidback place to stay on both islands. 


With high temperatures year-round, and January and February making up the winter’s dry season, this Tanzanian archipelago off East Africa is a top contender for winter sun retreats. The main island of this archipelago, Unguja, also simply referred to as Zanzibar, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Stone Town, which tells the story of Zanzibar’s diverse culture through its architecture and food scene, as well as a number of world-class beaches. Stay at a hotel like Park Hyatt Zanzibar, which is a part of Stone Town and also set on a white-sand beach, to explore the markets, mosques and winding alleys of this historic hub.

Get a taste of the culturally-diverse cuisine across the island and seek out Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park for outdoor exploration. Pay a visit to renowned beaches like Nungwi on the northwest coast, set out on a traditional dhow cruise and take part in water sports like stand-up paddleboarding and snorkelling.


One of the Indian Ocean nations best known as a winter sun destination, Mauritius draws travellers to its shores from December to April of each year for its peak season. At this time in the southern hemisphere’s summer months, the warm days are ideal for discovering the island’s white-sand shores and for diving into the coastline’s azure waters where thriving coral reef lies below the surface.

Further exploration of Mauritius affords memorable sights like the famous waterfalls and coloured earth of Chamarel as well as the mesmerising illusion of an underwater waterfall off the coast of Le Morne. Follow trails running through Black River Gorges National Park and delve into local life in the capital Port Louis.

Book a stay at any one of the luxury beach resorts dotting the island’s many idyllic shores, from The Oberoi Mauritius on the northwest coast at Turtle Bay to One&Only Le Saint Géran on a private peninsula in the northeast.

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