Ilha de Mozambique (Mozambique Island) is an island in the Nampula Province in Northern Mozambique with a historical heritage that's unmatched in the rest of Mozambique, and indeed the rest of Africa. It was the capital of Mozambique for nearly four centuries under Portuguese colonization before the move to Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), and had been used as a major base for the Arab traders long before the arrival of the Portuguese. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tiny, roughly 1 sq km island is connected by a concrete bridge with the mainland and is said to be crowded by 16000 inhabitants, most of them living in shacks with dismal sanitary conditions.
Ilha can easily be reached by road from Nampula. If you're driving follow the road towards Nacala, and turn off at the signpost for Ilha de Mozambique (which is in Monapo). It'll take around 2 hours and the road is good. When you get there you'll need to cross the causeway which costs about Mts 5,000.
If you're taking a chapa they leave from Ave de Trabhadores in Nampula near the railway station and cost Mts 80,000.
Ilha's is fairly tiny and you won't have any trouble walking around it - it's about a 20 minute walk from end to end, and only about 3 blocks wide. Gabriel's has bikes you can hire for the day.
Everywhere. Ilha's a magical mix of colonial Portuguese and old Swahili architecture. It basically divides into two halves - the old Stone Town in the north and the "Reed Town" in the south which is set down from the main streets.
The museum is in the old Palácio dos Capitães-Generais, a big red building up in Stone Town. In the same building is a tourist information office that sells really good street maps and has all sorts of other information about the various restaurants and pensões on the island. It's well worth heading here as soon as you arrive.
Also worth a visit is the fort at the northern tip of the island, which contains the Church of Nossa Senhora do Baluarte, almost certainly the oldest surviving European building in the southern hemisphere, dating back to 1522. Be sure you pay the right attendant, or you will have to pay the entrance fee twice: Ask for a entrance ticket, if you don't get one, don't pay.
There's a dive centre at the northern end of the island just down from the fort, but ask a lot of questions, and think twice if you aren't an experienced diver yourself.
You can take boat trips or just laze on the beach. If you're feeling adventurous take a dhow over to the mainland at Chaga or Mossuril and explore along the coast there.
There aren't that many restaurants on the island, with Reliquias and Escondidinho heading the list up in Stone Town. But you can find a number of local places serving fish and rice or chima.
Casa Luis, Traversa dos Formos. A popular place with a few rooms in a private home, and camping available in his courtyard. Very friendly owner. Ask around when you arrive, it's near the Reed Town and a little hard to find, but most locals can direct you. Beware of Luis' Cousin who at times shows up and collects the accommodation fees. As Luis does not acknowledge these payments, you will have to pay him again. Rooms are around $8/person.
Casa Branca, Rua dos combatantes, Stone Town, (on the East side of the island near the Luis de Camoes statue), tel: 06 610076. A very popular place with a few rooms for rent in an atmospheric 300 year old house. It is said that some rooms have marvellous views. $20-25 incl breakfast. Advance bookings are advised.
Omuhi'piti tel: +258 26 610101. Close to the fort in the north of Stone Town, it's currently closed for renovations but upon reopening will be the nicest (and only) hotel on the island. Prices will likely be ~$85/night.
Hotel Escondidinho, +258-26-610078, Stone town, Praca das Amoreiras, near the Marinha, Tastefully renovated double storey building with 10 rooms, swimmingpool and restaurant
The cheapest option is the camp site on the mainland next to the bridge. Self catering is possible from the nearby shops. $4/person.
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isabel osorio and jan, Morph, Cacahuate, Jake73, Pashley and Jazzie129uk
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