Rare dugongs ply the waters with even more rare humpback dolphins, while flying manta rays and gentle whale sharks glide in between – all seen easily while snorkelling or from your boat. The ocean here is ever warm and easily 50 shades of blue through the day, and the weather is balmy year round. Your bed is just 20 metres from the Indian Ocean, while on land abundant antelope and wildlife live harmoniously around you. It all sounds impossible until you’re on the Sao Sebastiao Peninsula, just a hop from Vilanculos in Mozambique. To be specific, this is life at Villa 12 in The Sanctuary – a 30 000-hectare wildlife and marine protected area forming the southern section of the Bazaruto Archipelago.
If ever there was a smoothly blended, idyllic African bush and beach location, Villa 12 is it. You literally step out of the lodge onto white sea sand and into the ocean. With Mozambique’s renowned tidal range the ocean can recede well over a kilometre at low tide, so always having the sea so close is something special. This is unfettered tropical island holiday nirvana, all the time surrounded by natural beauty both on land and sea.
Imagine spending days fishing, diving, swimming and boating in the deep waters nearby, seeing turtles nesting on the beaches on summer evenings, and staring in disbelief at the electric blue bioluminescence on the ocean some nights. Walk safely amongst kudu, sable and other antelope on the reserve – as there are no predators – and return to the lodge to dine on fresh seafood and shellfish prepared with Mozambican flair – and possibly a caipirinha to wash it down. Or maybe you prefer silently paddling a canoe through the mangroves, doing some birding en route. Being in a biodiversity hotspot in Africa, here the possibilities for nature lovers are virtually endless. In addition, it’s also one of the finest saltwater flyfishing spots on the east coast of Africa.
Villa 12 has six spacious en-suite rooms under new thatch – two front the ocean and four the lush coastal forest – but 14 people can comfortably be accommodated. Romantic, white, four poster beds draped in netting and with uniquely crafted baths adorn suites, while décor throughout is worn white and wood with detailed accents in cut metal light shades and ornate doors. Space and flow is everywhere with airy living areas and expansive patios. There are also two swimming pools for freshwater dips – though the warm ocean is right there too
The lodge is fully operational and fully staffed with experienced hands from chef to skipper, housekeeping to gardens, so guests can continue enjoying this ‘paradise found’ without a pause. It’s a pristine tropical escape unlike any other, with so many rare and appealing natural attractions, and where the ocean sometimes licks your doorstep at high tide.