Azura at Quilalea Private Island
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AZURA AT QUILALEA PRIVATE ISLAND RATES: Azura at Quilalea
AZURA AT QUILALEA PRIVATE ISLAND - QUIRIMBAS ARCHIPELAGO,
Quilalea Island is one of the Southernmost islands in the pristine Quirimbas Archipelago, 30 nautical miles North of Pemba. It has one of only a few safe deepwater moorings in the area, where the Portuguese and Arab traders traditionally found sanctuary for their dhows. Along with its sister island Sencar, it is one of the few properties in the entire Archipelago to lie within a fully protected marine reserve, ensuring an abundance of marine life.
The island is approximately 86 acres in size Pemba, and apart from Azura at Quilalea staff and guests, it is completely uninhabited.
The island is covered in indigenous vegetation, with statuesque age old baobab groves and stunning flora and fauna, a real nature lowers paradise. There are 4 large sandy beaches on the island, the villas are spread along 2 of them, the main beach always has boat access, and remote and beautiful turtle beach is home to dozens of nesting turtles and is an excellent spot for a private picnic lunch.
Its just as amazing below the sea, with snorkeling accessible off the beaches and around most of the island, patrolled by huge potato bass and schools of hunting jacks, and a spectacular house reef for diving just a short fin kick away from the main beach. This is paradise for lovers of marine life and marine experiences.
Azura at Quilalea is the second luxury Indian Ocean retreat from Christopher and Stella Bettany. Just as the name suggests, it brings Azura's trademark African-chic style to Quilalea Island, a private, wholly uninhabited island paradise surrounded by the pristine waters of a marine sanctuary.
The vision is to provide the ultimate in private luxury hideaways in stunning undiscovered destinations.
Azura at Quilalea is a hidden gem, somewhere to retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life, with a relaxed and understated 'Robinson Crusoe' castaway style that belies the comforts and experiences on offer. Attention to detail, as ever with Azura, is paramount in the design, the finishes, and the overall wow factor of the island experience.
Azura at Quilalea is an Eco-Boutique Retreat. Whilst the Quirimbas Archipelago stretch from Pemba to the Northern border with Tanzania, only the very southern part of the archipelago, where Quilalea is located, forms a fully protected marine sanctuary.
Conscious of this pristine natural environment and the need to preserve it, Azura at Quilalea has embarked on a unique energy saving project, whereby solar power, wind generation, rainwater harvesting, and eco-friendly rechargeable crystal batteries are used in combination with normal generators and desalination to provide the island's power and water. The aim is for all basic functions to run without the need to switch on generators for lengthy periods, and also to switch generators off completely at night to ensure maximum tranquility for our guests.
Uniquely at Azura at Quilalea, guests can control their own energy consumption through a wall switch at their villa. They can opt for 'ECO' or 'LUXE', Eco resulting in power for the bare minimum requirements for the room, such as basic lighting and fan, or Luxe providing all mod cons including Aircon.
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In keeping with the uninhabited nature of the island, the retreat consists of only nine seafront villas, accommodating eighteen guests.
The villas are built from natural coral stone and makuti thatch, and have all been revamped to increase comfort and make better use of the interior space, with natural finishings, indoor/outdoor showers, private decks stretching out to the beach, daybeds and sun-loungers for relaxing.
Guests can choose between three categories of villa: 4 Sunrise Villas, 4 Sunset Villas, and Villa Quilalea. The island may also be booked out in its entirety for a complete private island experience.
Sunset Villas have the premium locations, with an additional outdoor shower and beach sala. The cliff-top Villa Quilalea offers the most astounding accommodation for a couple in the whole archipelago, with a private plunge pool, feature bathroom & dressing room, an outdoor shower, and its own separate sitting/dining area.
The villas are open-plan and spacious, with stylish décors of wood, cotton and materials such as rope, pebbles and rattan, all blending in seamlessly with the island surroundings. Guests need only take a few steps to the gleaming white beach, or they may choose to bask on their sunlounger, recline in their sala, or cool off in their outdoor shower.
All of the villas have a unique energy control system whereby guests can take control of their own eco-footprint. All mod cons are there if desired, including mini bar and air-conditioning, or guests can throw their villa open to being air-cooled by the natural breezes.
Villas can be configured as kingsize or twin, with oversized mosquito net and feature bathrooms, including indoor/outdoor showers, double vanities and separate toilet/bidet. Outdoors there are daybeds on the deck and sun loungers.
Villa Quilalea additionally has a feature bathroom with free-standing bath and separate dressing room, a romantic draped Kingsize 4 poster bed, and enlarged sitting area. It also has a private infinity pool, sitting/dining area, extended decking and relaxation areas, and a stunningly private location, including ocean access from a clifftop stepladder.
Each 'public' area of the retreat is designed with its own particular ethos in mind, creating unique vibes and experiences out of which guests will find their own favourite haven, be it a hammock under the trees, a perch at the bar, or a dip in the main feature pool.
The main bar/pool area has been substantially reconfigured, including a chill zone with large cushions for lazing around. The kitchen has been completely re-designed and fitted with state of the art equipment, to provide the standard of cuisine that Azura is famous for, and the Dining Room has an all new Wine Cellar for private dining and to showcase the owner's wines. There is also an all new fully equipped Padi Dive and Watersports Centre, and TV and media room for those who want to stay in touch, and a Boutique with local crafts and designer beachwear.
Cuisine at Quilalea is focused around the natural produce available locally, in line with the island's 'Eco Ethos'. Lots of fresh fish and seafood dominate the menu, with dining a relaxed and laid back affair.
Guests receive Azura's trademark Mozambican Butler/Host service, where they try to make the dining experiences different through a range of unique and special venues and set-ups.
Should you have particular dietary requirements it is advisable to alert the us as far in advance as possible, as some specialist ingredients may take time for us to procure.
For the wine connoisseur, there is a wine cellar stocked with fine wines from the owner's 5 estates, as well as wines from Azura's own Chateau flown in from France's Loire Valley. The wine cellar makes an excellent venue for a more formal private dining experience.
Normal meals, house wines, local spirits, soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are included in the rate.
• Cliff-top African Spa
• Beach picnics / private dining experiences
• Island Baobab nature walk
• Mangrove Kayaking on nearby Sencar Island
• Scuba Diving and scuba diving courses
• Snorkelling and guided snorkelling trips
• Deep sea fishing
• Sea kayaking
• Dhow sailing
• Dhow Sunset Cruise
• Island hopping and remote beach picnics
• Cultural visits including nearby historic Ibo Island
• Tours of the working coconut plantation on Quirimba Island and the local village
Quilálea offers a full range
of superb Mozambique diving experiences,
providing some of the best scuba diving
in the entire Quirimbas archipelago
just 20 metres offshore. The marine
pavilion, which looks west over the
Quilálea Channel, is a fully
equipped PADI dive centre.
A reef just off the beach provides sheltered
diving and snorkelling for the beginner. More
experienced divers will want to explore the big
walls of the Montepuez channel on the southern
edge of the sanctuary. Caves and currents combine
to create an underwater paradise, inhabited by
reef and pelagic fish of every size and description.
The most adventurous will head for the Saint
Lazarus Bank, recognised as having the best unexplored
diving in the world.
The dive boat used started life as a traditional
Portuguese fishing vessel and has been remodelled.
The wide afterdeck allows freedom of movement
for whale watching or exploration of the bay.
Mares diving equipment is maintained in top condition
for use by guests and staff.
offers up to 30-metre visibility and water
temperatures around a balmy 28 degrees Celsius,
so you can expect to see all coral reef species
typical of the Indian Ocean region as well
as game fish - yellow fin tuna, dogtooth tuna
and marlin. There are also manta rays, eight
species of shark (to date), whale sharks, huge
schools of feeding barracuda, many species of
king fish, red snappers, green and hawksbill
turtles, pods of humpback dolphins, not to mention
the humpbacked whales in season.
Diving Spots near Quilálea
• Lagosta alley is situated barely 50 metres off the main beach. The hard
coral slope/drop-off bustles with aquatic life. Here you will find hundreds of
colourful fish, nudibranchs and unspoilt, hard and soft corals.
Cabecas reef can be reached by shore or boat.
The coral and aquatic life consists
of ribbon eels, nudibranches, wip coral (5
to 8 metres tall), yellow banded snappers,
fusilliers and spotted sweet lips. Green
turtles and hawksbill turtles, rare pipefish
and tropical shrimp species can also be seen.
Canyon is found on the southwest side of
the island and is reached by boat. The reef
forms steep walls and overhangs, with a depth
ranging from 14 to 38 metres. Wire coral
gobies hang on the long wire/whip corals.
Gorgonian sea fans, long nose hawk-fish and
green tree corals are a common site on this
wall. Napoleon wrasses, honeycomb stingrays,
huge kingfish and barracudas as well as black
tip reef sharks are plentiful.
Rocks-Massundju is located on the south side
of the island. A drop-off at 12 metres has
a well-developed coral reef with good visibility
and is regularly frequented by dolphins.
Bank is a coral bank in pristine condition
and remains magnificently untouched. Depth
is 8 to 12 metres. Nudibranch, turtles and
fish-a-plenty abound. At the south end of
Sencar Island is a reef where a variety of
large fish such as potato bass keep company
with game fish and turtles.
Slipway makes for exciting drift diving.
The channel is usually dived on either the
rising or falling tide. A soft coral carpet
hides the small juvenile fish and the diver
needs good buoyancy to navigate his/her way
around the coral rocks that pop up, sometimes
unexpectedly. The sea-grass fields and shallow
coral ridges are ideal for snorkelling.
forms part of a marine sanctuary, sport fishing
and deep-sea angling are offered outside the
protected sanctuary. The experienced skipper
and crew know all the hot spots, so novice and
veteran anglers alike can enjoy Mozambique's
unspoilt fishing waters.
A 30- foot Bertrams Express, powered by twin
Volvo Penta diesel inboards, is available for
use by big game fishermen. This vessel cruises
comfortably at 18-20 knots. A local dhow is also
available for those who prefer to cruise in silence
The wide variety
of game fish species can be taken from the
complex of habitats formed by the Quirimba
Archipelago itself, while the Saint Lazarus
Bank due east of Quilálea is a
hotspot for tuna and billfish. Both the Archipelago
and the Bank have yet to be discovered by big
The deep drop-off immediately to the east of
the Quirimbas Archipelago guarantees a unique
sports fishing experience. The Southern current
passes near the coast here and billfish can be
taken within shouting distance of shore; local
fishermen sometimes catch them on hand lines
trolled behind dugout canoes.
The rods and reels available for use by guests
are all Shimano, with lines ranging from 20 to
80 lbs. Six lines can be trawled from the Bertram's.
a magical sunset in a spectacular setting
aboard the traditional sailing vessel or
dhow, the “Doña Fatima”.
Sail the Indian
Ocean waters around the island of Quilálea
and experience the beauty and tranquility of
these historical vessels and the time-honoured
method in which they are sailed. Cold
beverages of your choice and light refreshments
will be served while you enjoy the magnificent
sunset. This activity
is available at no extra charge.
Sencar, Quilálea's neighbouring island, remains untouched and uninhabited,
although day excursions and picnics are encouraged. Seventy-five hectares in
extent, Sencar has a coral rag exterior and a mangrove swamp interior. Sencar
offers only rudimentary beaches, but it is a bird lover's dream. A paradise for
sea birds, the island has large areas of untouched coastal thicket. Samango monkeys
have also made their homes here, though no one knows quite how they arrived there
or how they survive in the absence of fresh water.
Tour to Ibo Island
Quilálea by boat,
you will travel through the mangrove channels
between the mainland and Quirimba Island. There
is a good chance of spotting majestic fish eagles
and also the shy humpback dolphin and dugong.
A small passage through the mangrove reveals
the island of Ibo.
in the port, the land adventure begins. The
first stop is the imposing fortress of São João,
which was used during the colonial period as
a prison and to house slaves before transporting
them to Ilha de Mozambique. Today, local artists
at the fort produce fine handmade silver jewellery
using traditional methods. Their work is of
a high quality and unique to the island making
a beautiful and original souvenir.
After the fort,
the tour heads inland to the town centre and
market place. The many ruins and Old Portuguese
villas make excellent subjects for photographers
and create a timeless and tranquil atmosphere.
Opposite the market, there is the small fort
of São Josè, which can
also be explored.
the coast, the tour comes to the Old Catholic
church. This is definitely worth a visit, providing
an insight to past inhabitants of Ibo. After
the tour, you may continue to view the island
at your leisure before returning to the boat
You depart Ibo
and head out around the seaward side of the
island. If conditions are favourable
you might participate in a spot of snorkelling
along the shallow reef by the lighthouse or
try your chance at big game fishing in the
deeper waters of Quirimba before returning
to Quilálea. This
activity is a half-day tour and is dependant
on the tides.
way to appreciate the island in all its glory,
than by exploring it on foot. There are two
pathways around the island; The Casuarinas
Path for short walks incorporating Kingfish
Bay on the west side of the island and Turtle
Beach on the east is a total length of 2½ kilometres.
The Whale Lookout Trail, which extends down
to the southern point past Heron’s Point
and Oyster Rocks, is about 3½ kilometres.
Along the meandering
pathways, you are likely to encounter some
of the wildlife indigenous to Quilálea.
During the high tide, snorkelling is
possible from Turtle Beach, the halfway point
of the walk. The walks
can be undertaken at any time and a guide will
accompany you if requested.
Conservation and the Quilálea Sanctuary
Quilálea Sanctuary was the first
marine protected area in the Quirimbas Archipelago,
an area considered by the WWF (World Wide Fund
for Nature) to be of worldwide importance for
conservation. Four partners, all with a keen
interest in preserving the islands and in working
with the local community, proposed the creation
of the Quilálea Marine Sanctuary to the
Mozambican Government. After consultations with
the local community, the government declared
it's support for the sanctuary. Subsequently,
the WWF visited Quilálea, endorsed the
sanctuary concept, and on the 25th September
2002, the government declared the official opening
of the National Park with a 500,000 hectare area
Within the sanctuary
itself no fishing of any kind is allowed, and
in the National Park no commercial fishing
is allowed (local people are allowed to fish
using traditional methods in most areas of
the Park, as are sport fishermen). The local
fishermen who used to have camps on Quilálea and Sencar agreed to remove their
camps from the two islands which make up the
sanctuary. Most of them then returned to acquire
new skills in construction. The enthusiastic
former fishermen have undergone in-house training
to provide hospitality services for visitors
Quilálea's buildings are of local rocks,
seawater was used in a traditional cement mix,
so the fragile island ecology and its limited
stocks of fresh water were preserved. The "island
villas" are roofed with traditional palm
thatch (makuti) ideal for cool and unobtrusive
The marine sanctuary functions as a nursery.
Turtles now nest on the beach, dugongs have been
sighted many times, and humpback whales shelter
in the channel during the months of July to January
before continuing their journey to the south.
Numbers of all marine organisms are high and
increasing. A total of 375 different species
of fish have been identified in the sanctuary
Of course, for
the visitor, Quilálea
conservation efforts have produced some of the
finest diving, fishing and birding available
in the world today - and all visitors to the
Island help sustain the conservation efforts
as well as the local communities.
Ecology of the Quilálea
Sanctuary contains three of the WWF's Global
200 habitats (those habitats considered most
important worldwide for biodiversity):
• no. 23 Southern Inhambane-Zanzibar Coastal Forest
• no. 118 East African Mangroves
• no. 193 Eastern Africa Marine Eco-region
Quilálea Island is almost entirely covered
by Southern Inhambane-Zanzibar Coastal Forest,
while Sencar Island, also within the Sanctuary,
is a mix of coastal forest and mangrove. This
forest is an area of high endemicity, with many
unique species found nowhere else in the world.
As the area is unexplored biologically, it is
expected that many plant species remain to be
discovered. Most of the trees are under 6 metres
in height, but baobabs and paperbark trees soar
much higher. All plants are adapted to the salty
and dry environment, so figs, Euphorbias, and
succulents are common. An interesting aspect
of the two islands is that while both have ancient
baobabs, no young baobabs have been found on
Quilálea, yet Sencar has these in abundance.
The baobab fruit must be eaten in order to germinate,
because without scarring from stomach acids the
fruit lies dormant. Sencar Island has samango
monkeys, and it is presumed that these eat the
baobab fruits. Quilálea at present has
none, but must have had at some point within
the past 2000 years, as this is the estimated
age of the oldest Quilálea baobab trees.
Five mangrove species are present in the Sanctuary.
These are found in the hollow interior of Sencar
Island. A narrow channel on the western side
allows seawater to enter. Mangroves are home
to a great variety of juvenile fish and crustaceans,
and serve as a refuge for nesting birds and the
Africa Marine Eco-region is actually a complex
of habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass
beds, intertidal flats, and undersea canyons. The
coral reefs are particularly rich and well
preserved. Fifty-two genera of coral
are found here, the highest coral diversity
in Africa. Long, fringing reefs are
found east of Sencar Island, while a coral
drop-off is found off the beach at Quilálea
Island. Just south of Quilálea,
a deep canyon drains the Montepuez Bay, and
here corals tend to be small and of the soft
and pulsating genera. Gorgonians abound
in the channel and reach three-plus metres
in diameter. Sea whips are also present
in their numbers, as is black coral and other
branching corals, so the general effect is
that of diving in a giant's undersea greenhouse. Salaama
Bank, in the centre of the channel, has some
of the most perfectly preserved branching
and table corals in all of Africa.
was also the 'seed' from which grew the much
larger Quirimbas National Park. After a visit
to Quilálea, the WWF joined
forces with Quilálea's partners and local
government in an effort to replicate the Sanctuary
concept on a wider scale. This effort led to
the declaration of the Quirimbas National Park,
which includes Quilálea as well as 110
kilometres of coast both north and south.
Park Regulations allow fishing by local residents
using traditional techniques, but also mandate
the creation of sanctuaries in 30% of the total
sea area of the Park.
sanctuaries have been established within
the past year. Eight more communities within
the park have also requested sanctuaries
and these will be established this year.
The Sanctuary concept has even been extended
to other provinces. The WWF and Quilálea shareholder,
Peter Bechtel, are currently setting up another
national park in the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago,
500 kilometres to the south, using the same principles
that worked so well in Quilálea.
life on the Island is protected by the Quilálea
Marine Sanctuary, and both the Archipelago
and the St. Lazarus Bank have yet to be discovered
by big game fishermen. A wide variety of
game fish species can be taken from the complex
of habitats formed by the Quirimba Archipelago
itself, while the Saint Lazarus Bank due
east of Quilálea is a hotspot for
tuna and billfish.
Quilálea is noted for the size of its
reef fish, with parrotfish, angelfish, cave
bass, morays, and others all reaching exceptional
sizes. Long-nosed hawkfish are found associated
with the gorgonians. A wide variety of game
and pelagic fish also visit the Sanctuary.
Resident schools of kingfish of the three species
(giant, yellow, and indigo) accompany most canyon dives as well as snorkellers
along the beach.
Dugongs are present but shy; it is easier to
find their grazing marks than the animals themselves.
A slow dive through the seagrass beds yields
brightly coloured nudibranches, up to 195 species
of fish, and swimming scallops that will come
up and dance in midwater.
widely throughout the Sanctuary, with green
turtles and perhaps Olive Ridleys nesting on
the islands. Humpback whales visit
the Sanctuary from June to December every year,
coming inshore to feed and shelter their calves.
Dolphins include spinner, common, and bottlenose,
with humpback dolphins appearing occasionally
inside the Sanctuary but common in the mangrove
channels of Ibo Island just to the north. Blacktip
and whitetip sharks, blue spotted stingray, and
electric ray are common. The Zambezi shark, the
hammerhead shark, the tiger shark, and the manta
ray have also been sighted.
The area is home to 140 taxa of molluscs, including
giant clams. Three hundred and seventy-five species
of fish have been identified in the Sanctuary
area, including threatened pipefish and seahorses.
Indian Ocean islands are home to a variety
of birds; doves nest here as do seabirds. Goliath
herons are present in abundance and fish eagles
also make their home here. Ospreys are common
and flamingoes and pelicans are occasional visitors.
found on the island include small Suni deer,
tortoises, and different species of snake (all
harmless) as well as large monitor lizards.
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