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Medjumbe Private Island – a place to linger

Mozambique still delivers the best tastes of the tropics – visitors to Medjumbe will speak of the lobster long after returning home

If there were a tertiary degree in the preparation of African lobster, chef Abujade would have a scroll in his kitchen proclaiming him ‘Master of Metanephrops Mozambicus’. Abujade’s delight in delivering multiple manifestations of perfectly grilled lobster platters defines him as part student, part artist. Seemingly unconvinced that a meal could be defined as ‘square’ without the presence of mounds of delicate white crustacean flesh dripping in butter and lemon juice, he would quite possibly serve you lobster on toast for breakfast, without too much prompting.

Guests of Medjumbe Private Island, situated off the coast of northern Mozambique, visit for solitude, luxury and the chance to do absolutely nothing all day long. All the island clichés are covered: ticking water, sand and scenery boxes in the ‘warm’, ‘white’ and ‘dazzling’ range. What sets the experience apart is the sense of being marooned on a deserted island, coupled with the certainty of a silver-service supper and the proximity of your personal plunge pool.

Less than 1km long and a third of that in width, this sandy teardrop of barefoot luxury is four hours’ travel from Johannesburg but an eternity from Egoli. A short charter flight from Pemba showcases unspeakably beautiful aerial views of the Quirimbas Archipelago. Medjumbe, though, stands alone as a haven for romance or contemplation. No children under 12 are allowed, unless guests book all 12 chalets for the duration of their stay.

Optional private beach dinners offer the ultimate island-dining experience. Solar-powered jar lamps dotted around a table set on the beach in front of your room gently poke pinpricks in the impenetrable darkness you could only find on an island miles from anywhere. The option to pretend you’re Robinson Crusoe while sipping champagne over yet another exquisite lobster meal is the core element of the Medjumbe experience. The lights of fishing boats twinkle far away on the horizon, as waves whisper up the beach towards your table. The silence is eerie, but unprecedented views of the Milky Way quickly dispel any disquiet.

The miniscule island begs daytime exploration, with circumnavigation easily achievable in under an hour. To the west, waves clash over the thin tail of the landmass, and an abandoned lighthouse, built in 1934, dominates the headland to the east. Hundreds of tiny crabs scuttle frenetically across the beach, reminding you that a diet of crayfish and Caipirinhas – delivered rapidly and regularly by barman Adamo in tumblers the size of beach buckets – will demand a little physical activity at some point. Lounging in your chalet’s private Jacuzzi just seems so much more appropriate than shattering the silence with Jet Ski antics, though.

The problem with holidaying in paradise is the crushing weight of the reality of your imminent return to the real world. Once you’ve arrived, buried your toes in the sand outside your air-conditioned suite and sipped your first cocktail, there’s always the nagging feeling that it’ll all be over again in a few days and you’ll be heading back to a life unfairly devoid of azure seas and three-course breakfasts. The twice-daily arrival of the charter plane on the island’s driveway-sized runway is a gentle reminder that time does indeed pass in paradise – a connection to the real world, should you be able to extract yourself from your hammock. You’ll have to head home some time.

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Airlink offers direct flights to Pemba from Johannesburg on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, whereas LAM offers an excellent alternative via Maputo. Solenta Aviation transports passengers around the archipelago from Pemba.


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