What is more romantic than a stroll down a perfectly white beach with not a soul in sight and the waves crashing at your feet? Africans have a deep affinity for a love story. At many places in Africa (from restaurants to safari lodges) when the staff get wind of a honeymoon couple or a couple celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary, they tend to go to extreme lengths to make the occasion as memorable as possible. It could be a special candle-lit private dinner in the sand at the water’s edge, or even a pathway of rose petals leading to a romantically set up bush bubble bath.
In Mozambique for example, you can expect to be boat transferred to one of the private islands for a sumptuous beach picnic for just the two of you. For our Northern Hemisphere readers who have summer minds focusing on sand and sun and pretty white beaches, we have compiled this list of our favourite romantic beach weekend getaways. There’s nothing quite like a beach holiday to feed the soul and serenade the senses, so here are our top romantic weekend getaways in Africa…
1. Cape Town
Cape Town is blessed with beautiful beaches even though it’s a biggish cosmopolitan city. Locals and visitors alike can escape the urban humdrum and sink their toes into the sand, hold hands and breathe in the salty air literally within a 10 min drive from the city centre. Camps Bay and Clifton beaches are the most glam and, therefore, attract young, trendy, body beautiful romantics. But other tucked away beaches like Boulders beach and Bakoven are perfect places for kissing behind a rock while watching the sun dip into the Atlantic. Sorry, but skinny dipping here is only for the very brave and the water temps are rarely above 18’C!
We recommend staying at The Twelve Apostles Hotel on the way to Camps Bay beach. This hotel is as much of a Cape Town institution (we also love the Bay Hotel Camps Bay) as its namesake suggests, with the mountain range right behind it. It is a luxurious affair which comprises of 55 suites, a state-of-the-art Spa and the now-famous Azure restaurant – which itself draws guests from far and wide. If the stellar services provided at the hotel are not enough then the breathtaking views over the Atlantic and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range might just do the trick.
Most people know that Hermanus is famous for its whales, but did you know that it also boasts a Blue Flag beach (an international rating award for various levels of pristine-ness)? Couples will love to walk the cliff path, watch the breaching whales, and enjoy the wide choice of restaurants and shopping in this pretty coastal village on the Garden Route map. If you’re looking for natural beauty and solitude, we suggest you avoid the busy December/ January holiday season.
We recommend staying at the Mosselberg on Grotto Beach. This five-star guesthouse is one of the most luxurious accommodations in Hermanus, located on the stunning blue flag Grotto beach. If it’s a homey atmosphere with refined touches you’re after then the Mosselberg is exactly the place. Head down to the quaint town during whaling season from June to November and you’ll be near guaranteed a glimpse of these majestic creatures from your bedroom.
3. Garden Route
Lagoons, sand dunes, pretty beaches and protected coves: the Garden Route is a treasure trove for couples wanting to sneak away on an intimate coastal retreat. Perfect for self-drive holidays, the Garden Route is a very accessible and scenic road trip from Cape Town, and is also the gateway to Knysna and the Eastern Cape Game Reserves.
We recommend staying at Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve, perfect for romantic getaways. The Oceana offers guests luxurious suites, a world class spa and the opportunity to interact with animals on one of the famed game drives through this spectacular wildlife reserve. Love struck couples could also visit the Knysna Elephant Park for a close encounter with these majestic beasts. The lodge has also become well-known as a wedding venue on the South Africa Garden Route, a fact that helps to support our claim of its romantic atmosphere.
4. Kwa Zulu Natal
The water temperature of the ocean on the KwaZulu Natal coast is a lot warmer than the Cape coast, so skinny dipping is definitely more of an option! The climate is more tropical, and coastal forests are alive with birdsong and big leafed indigenous vegetation. It’s not quite the Bahamas, but couples wanting a languid beach holiday with a tropical vibe won’t be disappointed. There’s the opportunity to go diving, swimming with dolphins, and discovering sea turtles hatching.
We recommend staying at The Oyster Box, which was rated as the most luxurious hotel in the country in 2011 when the newly married Prince and Princess of Monaco stayed there on their honeymoon. Open since 1947, it’s safe to say that The Oyster Box isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it only seems to be growing from strength to strength with the continual addition of facilities like deluxe pools, an in-house cinema and one of the top five rated spas in the country.
Little else is as romantic as a couples massage with a view of Mozambique’s crystal clear waters or a sunset sail on a traditional dhow. Still not convinced? How about a remote beach picnic with only you, your loved one and some of the finest seafood the eastern coast of Africa has to offer. Mozambique is like no place on earth and certainly a beach lover’s paradise. One of the most romantic aspects of the country is the plethora of private islands including those in the Quirimbas and Bazaruto Archipelagos. There are also many opportunities to delve deeper into these blue waters through scuba diving and snorkelling expeditions. The region is home to stunning coral reefs and secluded offshore islands.
We recommend staying at Mejumbe Private Island. If it’s complete isolation you’re after then Mejumbe Private Island is the place for you. As the name suggests, the island, located in the Quirimbas Archipelago, is an exclusive slice of paradise reserved for the luckiest of travelers. There are only 12 chalets making for an individualized and intimate island experience. The staff are attentive and ready to provide an exceptional beach getaway.
For decades, Zanzibar has been known as the world’s premier honeymoon and beach holiday destination. And with good reason! Whether lazing on soft sands next to deep blue waters or strolling hand-in-hand through the quaint narrow streets of the town capital Stone Town, the island is simply oozing with romance. The coastline is filled with sunbathing potential, making it tough to choose just one beach, but it’s a well-known fact that Nungwi Beach on the north of Zanzibar is one of the best. And don’t forget the food! A mix of many influences, including Portuguese and Arabic, the local cuisine is enough to tantalize even the sleepiest of taste buds.
We recommend staying at the Mnemba Island Lodge. If it’s a private beach getaway and barefoot luxury that you’re looking for head straight to Mnemba Island. Accommodating just 20 guests, the island offers an intimate and in-touch experience. Many great services are on offer including scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking trips. At Mnemba, guests get their own slice of private beach for the duration of their stay.
Not many honeymooners think of Malawi when it comes to romantic destinations around the world, but this magical country has much to offer when given a chance. Nicknamed the “Warm Heart of Africa”, Malawi is actually the perfect place for off-the-beaten-track romance with secluded game lodges, breathtaking scenery and endless stretches of turquoise waters. What makes Malawi so exciting is how different its terrain is: from the serenity of Lake Malawi to the steep cliffs that surround it, this country will keep you on your toes.
We recommend staying at Kaya Mawa. Escape to this secluded paradise which was placed in the Top 10 most romantic places on earth by Condé Nast magazine. This retreat manages to strike a remarkable balance between beach holiday and African safari. There are so many ways to experience the spoils of nature here. Whether you’re waterskiing or mountain biking through the island’s varied terrain, Kaya Mawa has something for everyone.