Discover 9 things to do in Vilanculos, that you really, can not miss while exploring the area. Of the many coastline towns of Mozambique, Vilanculos boasts the largest accumulation of tourist-centric facilities and services. There are a number of cafes, restaurants and shops that cater for tourists and locals alike. Vilanculos also serves as the gateway to the Archipelago. Dhows (traditional sailing boats) safaris provide daily and overnight travel between the town and the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago.
The town itself is only about 5km long, filled with all the amenities needed to make your visit comfortable. The airport is based on the outskirts of the town with flights arriving and departing on a daily basis. While in Vilanculos you have an opportunity to experience the unexplored charm of the Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique, which consists of 5 tropical islands (Bazaruto, Benguera, Margaruque, Banque and Santa Carolina).
The area offers an ideal vacation of a life-time, featuring unspoiled coral beaches, scuba diving, snokerling, top-notch deep sea fishing, spear fishing and salt water fly fishing. Once you’ve been in Vilanculos for a few days and have started going into big city detox and are acting a little irrational, don’t go hanging about with other big city nuts. Instead take off your watch, put on those flip flops and say to yourself three times in the mirror each morning, ‘Today I am going to achieve nothing.’ Its hard, but I know you can do it.
Here are 9 tips, on things to do in Vilanculos, to get you on the slow track:
1. Travel only by foot or by tuk-tuk. This way you are part of the sites, sounds and smells of this colourful little village;
2. Visit the Balinese-style Casbah Restaurant and Bar for a cocktail on the beach every afternoon. While at the Casbah, try out the locally produced Piripiri Saboroso, a tasty chilli sauce with flavor but also packs a punch, for those heat-lovers;
3. Watch the locals play football and practice martial arts on the beach and, if your up for it, join in. This happens every Sunday afternoon on the main beach;
4. Eat a pizza and chocolate pancakes at Casa Gucci and split your sides laughing at Valerie`s outrageous humor;
5. Go on a dhow safari with Sail-a-way Dhow for the day, spot dolphins, whale sharks and endangered dugongs, snorkel off the island of Margaruque and be spell-bound by the gorgeous island scenery;
6. Watch a rugby game on the big screen Frutos Do Mar, preferably a morning game so you have a reason to start drinking beer really early;
7. Walk down to the fisherman’s market at around 3pm each afternoon on the beach and buy fresh calamari, prawns and fish straight off the dhow;
8. Ask a local lady to make you a pot of crab matapa, a delicious stew of crushed cassava leaves, coconut milk, peanuts, minced prawns and whole crabs. Eat it all under a palm tree with a glass of chilled white wine. This is one of those experiences you didn’t know you wanted until you actually had it;
9. Choose something completely weird to ask for at the Mercardo Municipal (local open air market) like an electric toothbrush or a small Elvis doll and see if they can rustle it up for you. It’s fascinating to walk through the multi coloured isles and challenge your own ideas about shopping and well, life in general. This is a place where even time has its own agenda. Have fun!!!
Larry Lardner M
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You can rent a car in Maputo and drive straight 700 km up to Vilanculos. It will take you around 11 hours, as there are many speed restrictions, but you will enjoy the drive across communities, palms forests, lakes, people, colorful markets, baobabs (huge trees)…
You can also talk to us and we will take care of your adventure. Sit comfortably and leave the driving with us. It will take us the same hours, but we will watch the road for you. You can enjoy the views and have a nap whenever you need.
Public transport? Hahaha. That’s a big adventure and you never know if you will reach Vilanculos in the same day. You can try to check the buses (xapas or maxibombos) going to Beira, and then you can take one and drop off at Pambarra. From there, hitchhike or try to take a minivan (xapa) or an open vehicle (“mylove”).
You can also book a flight from Maputo with LAM. They go there every day and even seeming a short trip, if you find delays, you would wish have taken the car.
But better than that, if you are searching for an immersive experience and cross check all the best things to do in Vilanculos, check our tour.
Vilanculos is named after local tribal chief Gamela Vilankulo Mukoke, and some of the “bairros” (neighborhoods) are named after his sons. Known as Vilanculos during colonial times, the name was changed to Vilankulo at independence. By the way, Vilankulo (or Vilanculos, as we refer in this arthicle) is in the Province of Inhambane, “terra da boa gente”, meaning the land of good people. Locals are friendly and ever smiling, while you check your list of things do to in Vilanculos.
That’s an easy question: Bazaruto and Santa Carolina. Bazaruto is the biggest one. You can climb its giant dunes till the summit. From there, you will see sand dunes on your right, in the direction where sun rises up, with different tones of blues; on your left… a sand cliff falling down into the palm trees. You will experience a WOW!!!Check Mussiros tour to Bazaruto Island.
Santa Carolina, on the other hand, has been renamed by locals as Paradise Island, and it’s easy to understand such choice. We, nevertheless, prefer to call it Ghost Island, as you will travel in time to past and get lost inside its buildings overlooking the blue sea and the only company you will have is the wind and sea breeze.
Anyway, if you have enough time and are able to visit all the islands, Benguerra will receive you with endless beaches simulating jacuzzi effects inland during high tide), Magaruque is chosen for a calm snorkeling day, and Bangue is the door to look for humpback whales, as it’s far and deep enough to host these amazing mammals.
If we go back to point number 7 of things to do in Vilanculos, Larry recommends to go to the fishermen’s market, right? Well, you can do that or you may increase your experience waking up early (specially on Sundays) and walk along the beach to look for fishermen pulling nets from the shore. If you find them doing that, it means they are picking up the net they put some hours ago to find out how much they have fished today.
So go close to them and ask if you can join them; they will say yes for sure, as there are always some fellow missing because of parties last night. They will suggest to help them in order to allow you to take pictures, hehehe. Just answer you will take pictures but also some fish as your salary for helping them. It will be super fun!! And VERY exhausting!