The best thing about taking a private villa on your vacation is that there’s no set meal times, regimented activities or too many pesky overzealous managers to put you on your guard. You can surrender yourselves to absolute freedom and relax (or fill your days with energetic fun – it’s totally your choice!).
If, like me, you’re already planning your 2022 holiday and you’re longing for a stunning change of scene, healthy sea air and deserted beaches, then read on! I’m delighted to share with you my pick of the very best beach-side villas in Africa that would make for the perfect escape for next year, whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family or with friends:
If you want the privacy of your own luxury villa, but also benefit from all the extra amenities of arguably the best exclusive hotel in the Cape, then quickly book either of these exclusive and privately staffed villas before it is too late! Set on the slopes of Lion’s Head with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ellerman House Villas are laid out on multiple levels, each offering spacious entertainment and relaxation areas, en-suite bedrooms and a private infinity pool with the best views Cape Town has to offer.
A generous list of inclusions set these apart. They offer free wine tasting, daily sunset cocktails and canapes, most drinks, a private chef, daily breakfast including the best Eggs Benedict in town, weekly live music, laundry, entry to the whacky Zietz Museum for contemporary art, and much more!
This is the perfect springboard from which one can discover the Cape's many and varied attractions; sun-drenched beaches, world-class restaurants, the majestic Table Mountain, spectacular scenic drives, golf courses, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and some of the special places that only Capetonians know. Or use this as an ocean break at the end of your South Africa safari for a few days in the city before returning home.
Have the best of both worlds! Villa da Praia is just the perfect distance from the rest of exclusive Santorini Mozambique. Set like a Greek hamlet in the African coastal landscape, you have complete privacy with the convenience of the amenities of Santorini closeby. From the blue and white deco, intriguing design and domed ceilings to the landscaped gardens and outstanding food, nothing has been missed.
Villa da Praia is instantly relaxing - the perfect place to head to with a group of friends or family. Simply escape from it all and chill out around the pool, drink delicious cocktails and go for lovely long walks along the unspoilt beach. Here, you can rest, rejuvenate, enjoy water activities and luxuriate in your pristine playground complete with lovely staff who will cater to your every need.
There are plenty of activities from snorkelling and fishing to exhilarating kite surfing, and you can explore some of the nearby islands in their luxury Supercat ‘Aphrodite’ for day trips with picnics and plenty of chilled drinks on board.
Sleeping up to 10, this is a truly beautiful, modern and well-designed private ocean-view house based on the style of the old, whitewashed fishing cottages. It has the most beautiful views across the ocean, the beach is simply stunning and you can access it through the reserve.
There is an outdoor swimming pool to lounge by which is sheltered from the wind, and a clever quadrangle which houses the outdoor sitting and dining room. With plenty of nooks and crannies to escape to, one can pretty much dine anywhere. When feeling peckish, help yourself to tasty treats from the large kitchen, as well as being served wonderful food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Picnics and sundowners on the beach are regular treats. You can either walk or be driven to the reserve and then onto the beach where you can try sand boarding or go snorkelling and swimming in the ocean.
There are lovely marine walks along the coast and the place also has cycling, nature drives, kites for children to fly and even horse riding can be arranged, as well as visits by an excellent spa therapist. During May, one can see pods of dolphins chasing the sardine run and then of course, whales during the season. For the perfect safari and sea combination, visit exclusive-use Morokuru Farm House in Madikwe as part of your vacation!
Simply stunning Thanda Island is definitely one for the new James Bond 007 – watch this space! Surrounded by a coral reef and encircled in powdery caster sugar-white sand scattered with shells, the island takes just eight minutes to walk around but there is SO much to do if you are lucky enough to stay there. Perfect for a family gathering or birthday celebration; all your meals, wine, snorkelling, wake boarding, jet skiing, stand-up-paddle boarding, fishing and island tours are included!
Diving is extra and they can also bring in a yoga instructor if you wish. There is a fabulous boat house, stocked with toys from paddleboards to jet-skis, plus ten different types of kayaks, a catamaran and a dive-boat. They have a tennis court and beach volleyball, plus an impressive solar-farm and desalination plant. The sitting room is stocked with board games and books, not to mention a Steinway piano and a large aquarium which takes up most of one wall. There is also a Celestron telescope for stargazing.
There is a see-through swimming pool apparently created so the owners could enjoy views of the beach while swimming underwater! They have also built five gorgeous villas and two A-frame bandas on the other side of the island which provides space for different age groups or adults wanting more relaxed accommodation. The villa bedrooms each have a large four poster bed, outside space to relax and luxurious indoor and outdoor showers and an outdoor bath.
Thanda lies in the middle of a migratory route used by whale sharks (who can be seen from October to February) and after turtles swim in to nest, when hatching ensues, one can see tiny footprints leading down to the sea in the morning light. You can also take a day trip to Mafia Island nearby, where you can see ancient ruins and visit the largest protected marine area for snorkelling.
A stay at Ndomo House, Kaya Mawa (the most stylish place to stay on Lake Malawi) starts with a light aircraft flight to Likoma Island. The scenic flight will take around one hour and is the most wonderful way to arrive. You will then be taken to the tip of Likoma Island at the head of a crescent-shaped bay which is surrounded by mango trees and ancient baobabs.
Translated as "Maybe Tomorrow" in the local Tonga dialect, the property uses the stunning natural surroundings of beach, rock and lake giving it unique character and a very special ambience.
With access to your own private beach, Ndomo House has four bedrooms and accommodates eight people. There is a spacious living area with large terraces, a courtyard, with outside dining and barbecue area by the swimming pool. The house is fully staffed with a house manager, nanny, chefs, housekeepers, and watchmen.
Many water-based activities are available including diving (PADI courses available), wakeboarding, dhow trips, canoeing, laser boating, water-skiing, windsurfing, snorkelling and fishing. The lodge also has a private beach complete with day bar and hammocks. One can walk or cycle around the island, stopping and swimming en-route, and even visit the market.
At Kaya Mawa you can get involved in the many conservation and community development projects they actively support. You can take the lodge's quad-bikes out for a tour of the island, stopping at nearby Nkwhazi primary school (Kaya Mawa supply their books), or a fabric workshop where women embroider tiny, delicate beads onto yards of soft linen.
This is a castaway fantasy! This remote retreat of luxury thatched villas on the sunny shores of Benguerra Island, especially the three-bedroom Presidential Villa, is one of my absolute favourites. Set just 150 yds down the stunning beach from the main resort, it comes with its own staff, an infinity pool and glorious views across the ocean.
The whole feel is one of casual elegance, and there are several areas one can simply flop or retreat to; space abounds! The cuisine is superb, with crayfish, crab and fresh fish being the order of the day! Massages are on offer at their spa and there is a library, too.
There is a five-star PADI dive centre and one can dive or snorkel along the reefs, which are home to dolphin and turtles. Humpback whales also migrate along these shores at certain times of year.
Have a go at reef or big game fishing or spend an afternoon sailing out in a dhow watching the sun go down into the silver sea. There are also lovely walks to be taken and the kitchen will happily prepare a sumptuous picnic lunch for you to take with you and enjoy out on the sand.
Pambele lies on the coast, about 45 minutes from Vilanculous by boat (depending upon the tide). This is a haven of a villa (or more correctly, two ‘grand’ villas – World View and Pelican) situated on a gorgeous beach, with only two other private houses to share it with. The ocean is a warm, clear cerulean blue fringed by gorgeous white sand.
What makes this a perfect destination is that it combines so many different activities for those who want to do more than simply want to top up their tans! You can do so much with the villa as your base, as well as venturing out on fun excursions, too.
The inland sanctuary is wonderful for nature drives where red and grey duiker can be seen, as well as flamingos on the shoreline when looking down from Worlds View.
The food is superb! Breakfasts are sublime and include fruit smoothies, freshly baked muffins with homemade lemon and passion fruit curd, cheesy baked eggs en cocotte served with delicious grilled tomatoes. The dinners are exceptional, too. On my last visit we had prawns for starters and lovely grilled fish, all preceded by wonderful tartlets served with drinks for sundowners at Worlds View.
Images and video by kind courtesy of:
Green Safaris Kaya Mawa, Santorini Villa da Praia, Pambele, Azura Resorts, Ellerman House, Morukuru Family.