Bazaruto Archipelago islands were formed when sand was deposited, hundreds of thousands years ago, by the waters of the Limpopo River. The river estuary has now been shifted through various tectonic forces several hundred kilometres to the south. During low tide many white sandy islands pop up, covered in shells. Not to plan to go beach combing there, as only six hours later they will again be ten meters underwater. Bazaruto Island is one of the five principal islands lying about 30km off the coast of Vilanculos in Inhambane Province.
It is the northernmost and the largest of all the islands, approximately 37km long and up to 7km wide, which is big enough to have lots of space not to meet madding crowds, but small enough to still feel you are on an island. Before the Portuguese put down their anchors in Mozambique in the 1700s, Arab traders had already set up extensive trade routes with the Middle East and Asia. They also had a base in Bazaruto to trade in pearls, ivory and rhino horn. It is said the Queen of Sheba's pearls came all the way from Bazaruto.
After the Portuguese came to power, they used the archipelago as a penal colony. In 1914, the prisoners build a lighthouse on Bazaruto Island's dunes, though it stopped working when fuel ran out soon after independence. A visit to the lighthouse is a pleasant excursion for history buffs. The island has been developed as a prime tourism venue, and for the last couple of decades, this has been the main source of industry. Bazaruto Island is part of the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, one of the largest conservation areas in the Indian Ocean. There are some extraordinary ecological features. How about the world's largest fringing reef and the largest dugong population along the East African Coast? (Dugongs, you may recall, were supposedly mistaken by early sailors for mermaids. Dugongs are gentle creatures; herbivorous mammals. There are over 2 000 species of fish, 100 hard and 27 soft coral species, and all five marine turtle species of the Indian Ocean, four whale and five dolphin species.
Three of the islands were given formal protection in 1971 and designated a national park. The squeaky white beaches and protected reefs surrounding the island support a vast array of game fish. The sports fishing is spectacular and the variety of game includes the giant black marlin and the sailfish. There is the endangered dugong, different species of turtles and dolphins, and seasonal humpback whales. The shallow, crystal clear waters with dazzling soft corals, starfish, anemones and bewildering range of beautiful fish, extends to dive sites featuring an incredible variety of reef and game fish, and different species of turtles, rays and sharks.
Go and see flamingoes on tidal flats, and there are hundreds of bird species in a wetland, savannah grassland and thicket. In the freshwater lakes lurk many large crocodiles, while endemic butterflies add touches of fluttering colour. In total contrast, the eastern strip of the island is composed of huge sand dunes, some bare and others vegetated. Indigo Bay is an exquisite island resort, situated on the pristine Bazaruto Island, the largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Indigo Bay is situated approximately 600km north of Maputo on the western side of Bazaruto.The resort offers exclusive island accommodation providing the quint essential Indian Ocean island holiday, as well as a gateway to the unspoilt beauty of the Bazaruto Archipelago with its exquisite natural beauty and ecological diversity.