Where to go for a Blue Safari in Africa

Lauren Hill

Senior Contributor

From diving with humpback whales off Reunion Island to snorkelling over what’s said to be the continent’s southernmost reef, make your next trip to Africa one of ocean exploration.

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

This group of six islands off Mozambique’s southern coast are celebrated for having some of Africa’s best beaches and, protected under its Bazaruto Archipelago National Park status, for its bountiful marine life. The archipelago’s protection owes to the region’s abundance of manta rays, turtles, dolphins and sharks, a population of the endangered dugong and the whales and whale sharks that migrate through these channels each year. Mangrove, algae beds and thriving coral reef provide the habitat for these sea creatures. Stay at luxury resorts like andBeyond Benguerra Island and the soon to open properties Azura Marlin Beach and Kisawa Sanctuary to snorkel and dive in these waters, sail on a traditional dhow and explore on-board one of the resorts’ yachts.

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Sodwana Bay lies on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast. This world-renowned spot within Sodwana Bay National Park and the Maputaland Marine Reserve is considered one of the best sites for diving in South Africa. Scuba diving and snorkelling excursions and ocean tours take visitors out to see what’s thought to be Africa’s southernmost coral reef, along with loggerhead and leatherback turtles and underwater seascapes of overhangs and drop-offs. Humpback whales, whale sharks, ragged-tooth sharks and black marlin all migrate through these waters seasonally. Base your stay at the luxury property, andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the Lebombo foothills about an hour and a half drive from the famous bay.

Mafia Island, Tanzania

Among the best locations for a blue safari off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Mafia Island offers sightings of marine life like whale sharks, sea turtles and the rare dugong in the protected waters of Mafia island Marine Park. A diverse ecosystem of estuarine, mangrove and coral reef covers this marine-life-rich area. Unsurprisingly, visits here are all about getting out onto and into the water. Kayaking and sailing are both popular activities, as are snorkelling and scuba diving with excursions taking in world-class dive sites across the Mafia Archipelago. Nearby island resorts include Thanda Island, which takes guests out to spot whale sharks, dolphins and dugongs on any one of their three cruising yachts.

Islands of Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the world’s greatest draws for any wildlife enthusiast. It’s then the islands off Madagascar’s northern coast that capture the attention of ocean lovers. Coral reefs thrive, turtles nest on the islands’ shores and humpback whales pass through on their migration route. Whale sharks are then seen in the northwest around Nosy Be island. Combine stays on islands off the northwestern and northeastern sides of the mainland at island resorts like Constance Tsarabanjina, Tsara Komba Lodge and Time + Tide Miavana. Between them, they offer blue safari activities including snorkelling, scuba diving and pirogue sailing, as well as different styles of fishing.

Reunion Island

One reason to make the journey to Reunion is the island’s dramatic landscape of mountains, volcanoes, lush forest and sandy beaches; another is the extraordinary marine life. Reunion’s Natural Marine Reserve stretches across 40km of coastline, half of which thrives with coral reef. Each side of the island offers a different diving experience. See underwater basalt walls formed by lava flow in the south, dive down to the Anse des Cascades volcanic arch in the east and drift over coral reefs and shipwrecks in the west. It’s here that whale sharks and hammerhead sharks are known to sometimes make an appearance. Humpback whales also migrate here in the austral winter. As well as having the opportunity to spot whales at this time, divers have the chance to get in the water with these huge marine mammals. Base yourself what’s considered to be one of island’s most luxurious resorts, LUX Saint Gilles.

West Coast Mauritius

Mauritius is renowned for its dramatic dive sites. As a volcanic island surrounding by coral, the seascape comes with arches, tunnels, caves and cathedral-like structures created by lava flow. A diversity of coral species then provides the habitat for hundreds of marine species. These unique sites bring you up close to marine creatures including giant moray eels, eagle rays, octopus, sharks and a diversity of colourful reef fish. The Cathedral dive site off Flic en Flac on the western coast is perhaps the best-known dive site here, capturing people’s attention for its impressive underwater scenery. Standout hotels on this side of the island include Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, The Oberoi Beach Resort Mauritius and The St. Regis Mauritius Resort.

The Seychelles

The Seychelles covers a huge area of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. Just like the islands that flourish with indigenous wildlife, the ocean’s coral reefs, seascape of granite boulders and wrecks are home to an abundance of exotic marine life, including tropical fish species such as parrot fish and both hawksbill and green sea turtles. Sharks, eagle rays, stings rays, lionfish, barracudas and occasional dolphins also appear, with seasonal sightings of whale sharks. Dive centres are scattered across the islands and the resorts take pride in taking guests out to see what’s below the surface of the water. Choose between the ultra-luxurious and eco-conscious North Island, Fregate Island or Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Felicite.

Become a member to join the conversation!

Become part of the world's leading travel & lifestyle community!