The Ilha de Mocambique is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though the Arabs established a port which provided vital links, the Portuguese established more permanent buildings from as early as 1507 through 1522 when they built the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte.
The Portuguese used this as a trading and naval base, and important stop en route to India where they traded spices and gold. Slaves where also traded from this point and another old slave fort can be seen and visited on Ibo Island further north and nearer to the Tanzanian border.
Ilha deMoçambique fortifications have withstood battering from Dutch attacks and about half the town is stone built. Many neo-classical buildings remain today.This small island holds many buildings to see including the Old Hospital, Chapel of Sao Paulo (1610), and the Museum of Sacred Art. A Hindu temple and mosques are also on the island.
In the northern Quirimbas Archipelago, a series of islands stretch out - one being Ibo Island. Just like Ilha de Mozambique, Ibo started life as an Arab port as they sailed down from the desert lands of the north, past Swahili East Africa and across to the northern point of Madagascar.
The Portuguese established a fort here in 1609 called Fort of Sao Joao. In the past, the fort was known as a slave fort with the island being a base from which spices, ivory and gold where exported north, but now a days the quiet island is home to one luxury tourist lodge that has restored old charming colonial governor’s residences and is now known for its silversmiths and dhow building.
Sailing around the island in a traditional dhow really does give you that feel that the island has just been discovered and you are stepping back in time. Watch the children return from school or the residents communing at the jetty, the focal point of any action on the island! The island is perfectly safe to walk around day or night and it allows a wonderful immersion in African culture which is non-voyeuristic. It is a privilege to visit Ibo, and be a part of the island. There is also a festival here which is great fun to see and encompasses dhow racing and the arts.