African beaches: five of the best – 24 Aug 2007

Africa has some of the most beautiful beaches of any continent in the world and whether clients are looking for a budget or luxury break, castaway islands or large resorts, they’ll find it here.
With only a couple of hours’ time difference and minimal jet lag, countries such as Kenya, the Gambia and even South Africa are now being marketed as short-break destinations. It’s easy to combine a beach break with a safari or time in one of the continent’s capital cities. Here’s a round-up.


Best on a budget

The Gambia

Africa doesn’t have to cost a fortune and a holiday to the Gambia can cost little more than a package tour to Spain. Tourism infrastructure in the Kota Beach area has developed rapidly over the last few years and supports a number of hotels, restaurants, clubs and beach bars.

One of the best family choices is the Kombo Beach Hotel on the sandy beach of the same name. The hotel is known for its fine cuisine and has four restaurants and three bars.

Sample package:The Gambia Experience offers seven nights’ bed-and-breakfast accommodation in October from £525 per person, including transfers and flights from Gatwick.


Best for escapism


This up-and-coming destination is blessed with some stunning offshore paradise islands. Two of the best are Medjumbe and Matemo in the magnificent Quirimbas archipelago in the north.

Private island Medjumbe has an area of just 0.3sq miles, and boasts palm-fringed, pristine white sand beaches and sparkling blue water. Rani Resort’s exclusive Medjumbe Island Resort is the only hotel on the island and has just 13 thatched chalets, so you’ve pretty much got the place to yourself.

Matemo Island is a 20-minute hop away on Rani Resort’s light aircraft. At 9.2sq miles, it seems large compared with Medjumbe and even has a village. Rani’s Matemo Island Resort has 24 chalets on the beach and the emphasis is on diving, fishing and loafing around.

Sample package:Audley Travel offers an eight-night package to Mozambique staying four nights at the Matemo Island Resort and four nights at the Medjumbe Island Resort from £2,825 per person on a full-board basis in October. Prices include scheduled flights from Heathrow and transfers by light aircraft.


Best for diving


Few holiday spots are as enigmatic both above and below the water as Zanzibar. The best dive sites are a few minutes’ dhow ride from the east coast, and this is where you’ll also find the main beaches and hotels such as Breezes Beach Club and Spa, set on a glorious stretch of beautiful white sand with an on-site dive centre.

Clients should split their stay in Zanzibar between the east coast beaches and old Stone Town, one of Africa’s most beguiling historic gems.

The city has changed little in the last 200 years and is a maze of winding streets, bazaars, mosques and grand Arabic architecture. The Zanzibar Serena Inn occupies a prime position overlooking the waterside on the edge of the old town.

Sample package:Dive Worldwide offers a nine-night package staying two nights at the Zanzibar Serena Inn on a bed-and-breakfast basis and seven nights at Breezes on a half-board basis from £1,622 per person in October. The price includes flights, transfers and 10 dives.


Best city beach

Cape Town

Clifton, a short drive from Cape Town, is known by film crews and fashion editors as ‘the perfect beach location’. It has four natural coves divided by enormous granite boulders known as First, Second, Third and Fourth beaches.

Families and urban fashionistas head for Third and Fourth beaches, while Second beach attracts the gay community. Most of the beach accommodation comprises houses and apartments – the nearest hotel accommodation is around Bantry Bay, a few minutes away.

Cape Town and the region’s wine-growing areas are short drives away.

Sample package:Gold Medal Travel offers five nights’ bed-and-breakfast accommodation in October from £999 per person, including return flights with Qatar Airways and economy car rental.


Best for beach and safari


Kenya has built much of its tourism industry on the popularity of its magnificent wildlife, but it has wonderful beaches as well, many of them close enough to the national parks and games reserves for visitors to do both in a day.

A popular choice is to combine the two, spending time at one of the hotels on Mombasa Beach, before or after a safari.

The beach is a wonderful stretch of golden sand with a protective reef just off the shore, ideal for divers and snorkellers. The impressive Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel sits in tree-filled gardens and is less than 63 miles from the entrance of the Tsavo National Park which, at nearly 8,500sq miles, is the largest in Kenya.

Sample package:Abercrombie and Kent’s Safari to the Coast includes one night at the House of Waine in Nairobi, three nights at the Olonana in the Masai Mara and three nights at the Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel from £2,999 per person, including flights with British Airways, transfers and some meals in October.

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