Ilha Blue is an event company run by a wonderful couple named Pete and Gail. They are savvy and knowledgeable about all things Ilha and a few minutes chat with them will result in the perfect outing being arranged.
We booked two trips: the biking tour and the beach-baobab combo. The former trip was amazing. Perfect way to visit the island. The bikes are comfortable, the pace is relaxing and we learned a lot from our wonderful guide.
The visit to the beach was also good but we preferred the bike tour. The beach is very clean although do not expect big waves, the ocean is very shallow near the shore. There is an option to swim in a nearby lagoon but we definitely preferred the ocean.
I love Ilha de Mozambique with all its history. One of the best ways to learn about it is to go on a gentle cycle tour with Ilha Blue around the Island, visiting all the historic places. The bikes are old Royal Mail delivery bikes which make the trip more unique.
Ilha Blue organise other trips such a day trip on a local dhow picnicking on one of the nearby Islands and snorkeling in the pristine waters.
They are organised and efficient and well worth using for Island entertainment.
Ilha blue makes the tour experience personalised and fun. The food was delicious, the staff were friendly, and the places we visited were stunning — highly, highly recommend doing a tour with them on Ilha!
TM Fox – Boston, USA
I traveled solo in Ilha de Mocambique. Ilha Blue tours were part of a great experience. Going on a guided tour on bike around the island was a great way to enter inside the historical atmosphere. Seeing a beautiful sunset from the dhow, going to see the whales and having lunch on a beautiful little island or snorkelling around the Discovery ship made my stay on the island memorable. I only missed a trip to Ilha das Cobras. Next time!
Emanuela – Suceava, Romania
I’ve been on the bicicleta tour, whale-watching trip and 3-fortaleza kayaking tour of the island – all absolutely amazing and led with great professionalism by local guides.
The bicicleta tour was a great way to explore the island, to see parts of it, such as the interior of the macuti town and the slavery memorial garden, that I might otherwise have missed, and have the history explained by our local guide (in Portuguese, but I believe he also speaks English well). The whale watching trip was out of this world – beautiful humpback whales leaping from the waves, sometimes just a few metres from the dhow (my one concern would be that us being so close to the whales might disturb them?), followed by snorkelling in the clear waters over a coral reef, and a picnic lunch on a little sandy island. The crew were really friendly and helpful, and seemed just as excited as we were every time a whale jumped out of the water!
And last but not least, the kayaking trip gave yet another perspective of the island: paddling through the shallows and chatting to local women as they waded out to collect shellfish; glimpsing bright starfish and dark sea urchins on the sea floor; seeing the warehouses from the angle they were built for; climbing up onto the craggy tidal island of the Fortaleza de São Lourenço, still littered with Portuguese cannons; watching a boatfull of fishermen hauling their nets in; seeing absolutely incredible, colourful fish as we snorkelled in the coral reefs, including a younger reef that has grown on the hull of an abandoned ship; and having another picnic in a little cove beside the Fortaleza de São Sebastião. My arms were exhausted by the end but it was definitely worth it!
Thank you Gail, Pete and the team for designing these tours with such imagination, and delivering them with such friendliness – hope to be back soon 🙂
Katharine H – Nampula, Mozambique
A friend had recommended Ilha Blue & there was also a brochure in my hotel. It was good to know the owners only employ local people & focus on local capacity building. I found all the staff to be knowledgeable, very pleasant & helpful, so I really enjoyed the time I spent with them.
First I went beach-combing with Selemani to find ancient trade beads that had washed up on the shore from the shipwrecks around the island. I found exactly two while Selemani’s sharp eyes picked up a handful, together with porcelain pieces. No Ming porcelain for me sadly, though divers have found some in the past.
Secondly we went by traditional dhow to look for whales & again the sharp eyes of the staff made sure we saw whales, dolphins & turtles. Our day was complete after snorkelling, followed by a delicious lunch on a tranquil deserted island. My next adventure was to take a bike ride around the island, once again with the knowledgeable Selemani. I had done a short walking tour when I first arrived with a lad who purported to be one of the hotel’s official guides (who I later found was not) but his English was poor & his information was often incorrect. So it was a pleasure to cycle slowly round the island with Selemani & learn about all the different buildings, cultures & activities. As well as the historical information, he told me where to find good food & coffee, how to buy a ticket to visit the fortress, where to swim, etc.
My last trip with Ilha Blue, since I was on the island when there was a blue moon, was by dhow to Sena Island, also called Ilha das Cobras. This island is only reachable at low tide, so Ilha Blue organises a night’s camping with delicious seafood meals so that visitors can take kayaks to a hidden lagoon at the back that only fills at high tide. A beautiful lagoon surrounded by mangroves, I had the impression of being on a volcano lake because the water enters via underwater passages – some of us followed the underwater passages to the outer caves. Our beautiful moonlit night was somewhat spoilt by a rain storm that blew in very rapidly from the ocean, unexpected by everyone and very unusual, which was a pity. I am tall & the blanket we were given wasn’t big enough for me, especially when the tent leaked at the sides, so I wished I had brought a light sleeping bag, but that was the only hitch in a wonderful trip. The staff were quick & efficient & were especially concerned about my safety getting in & out of the boat. A wonderful few days.
Isla G – Harare, Zimbabwe
Such very nice people (both the owners and staff). Great day kayaking one day and sailing/whale watching another. Very knowledgeable about local history, sites, activities, etc. They also helped us arrange ground transportation from Pemba, a town a few hundred kilometers North of Ilha de Mocambique – much lower cost than flying, and much quicker and more comfortable than the minibuses that are the major source of land transportation in Northern Mozambique. Highly recommended.
Offering activities in English and in Portuguese (at least), Ilha Blue is definitely the place to look for if you’re looking for official tours. Ilha Blue has various options for guided tours, including whale watching, bike tours and sunset cruises. My friends and I did the guided bike tour, having two hours of historical sight visits and a very pleasant morning biking around throughout the whole island. The guide was very friendly and informative.
I had great communication with Pete before I even got to Mozambique. I didn’t have long on Ilha so I wanted to make sure I made the most of the time I did have there and decided on the half day cycle tour. My arrival in Ilha was delayed and Pete was very flexible in rearranging the time of the tour. Both he and Gail are extremely welcoming and friendly. Cycling round the island was a great way to see it, particularly as it was so hot it was too uncomfortable to walk! The bike itself was high quality and comfortable (and from Royal Mail via Malawi!) I had a private tour with Sulieman and it was really good. Highly recommend.
Sally – London, UK
I did 3 tours with Ilha Blue. The island bike tour, a day dhow cruise, and an unforgettable overnight trip to Ilha das Cobras. The beautifully restored dhow, named “Edna”, is a wonderful boat locally operated and maintained. Being at the mercy of tides and winds gives you a real feeling of “Africa time” when she gracefully sails over the waves without the diesel fumes and engine-oil smells other boats would offer.
The food cooked up by Amisse when we camped on the island was superb, even more impressive given all the equipment had to be taken in on kayaks from the boat.
J Barnes – Sao Paulo, Brazil
I would definitely recommend the bicycle tour. Do this on the first morning after you arrive so you can get an idea of the island and the historical streets and buildings. I also went on the sunset dhow cruise which was also very good. If you’re lucky Gail might make her excellent pesto for the trip!
Reviewer – Cape Town, South Africa
During our stop in Ilha de Moçambique, we were sleeping in a backpacker near to Ilha Blue and we met the two owners Peter and Gail at the bar of the backpacker. In addition to being very nice people and friendly, they propose you great activities on this island which seems so quiet.
We chose a bicycle tour during which we learned a lot from the local guide, and as we were doing a project during our world tour, he even introduced ourself to a local pre-school to have fun with the children. He explained us a lot of things and was really listening at our questions. We even tried some local food with him, that we would not have tried by our own.
We just have to come back to Mozambique Island to do the boat tour we missed during our stay because it seems fantastic.
Fantastic dhow trip to Ilha das Cobras Island which was totally beautiful with the huge lagoon and masses of bird life, not to mention the great food. The canoeing and snorkelling was amazing with the local guides and Pete taking us to some beautiful sights on the reef, some of the fish and starfish were completely technicolour! The bike tours of the island taken by local guides were very informative and fun. Gail and Pete provide a great service and try to be totally engaged with the local community. Would be back there tomorrow! Thank you Ilha Blue.
Glenn M – Melbourne, Australia
We stayed on Ilha for 6 days, and in this time took a whale watching trip on a dhow, and also did the bicycle tour of the Island. Peter and Gail run a great operation, very sustainable and clearly committed to engaging the local community. They were also a good source of information about the Island.
Tori Edwards – Sydney, Australia
A long journey to get to Ilha, but what a treat awaits. Ilha blue revealed to us the island and what lies just beyond, and they do it fabulously- by bike, sail, and kayak, plus snorkel and mask!
Ilha Blue are well organised, friendly, laid back and good value.
I can recommend them highly.
Hugh B – Melbourne, Australia
We landed on Ilha de Mozambique after what we thought were unbeatable experiences in Namibia and Botswana. We were wrong. The island was the perfect complement to the rest of our trip in Africa, and Ilha Blue was the best place to start. The cycle tour was a great way to get oriented on the island and our local guide gave us a nice mix of history with some restaurant tips.
We went back again for the Baobab trip – great leisurely boat trip, lounging by the lagoon, a bit of swimming and a very delicious lunch. And then again Ilha Blue organised one of their guides to take us around the fort.
Peter and Gail and their local team were all great – we have travelled a lot and the business has a nice feel to it. Highly recommend for anyone visiting this special place.
Al – Melbourne, Australia
Ilha de Mocambique is a magical island steeped in African and Colonial history and awash with vibrant culture. Tourism is a growing industry and Ilha Blue are doing their best to develop this industry further using an ethical and empowering approach. Training and supporting local guides and businesses is part of their approach. They try and cater for all-comers, and as a family we appreciated their flexibility and attention to safety.
We loved the Baobab boat trip which includes a gourmet lunch under the baobab trees cooked by Ayuba (guide). We went on a couple of different kayak trips, which included stopping for snorkelling at low tide and the guide giving the kids a tow when they got a little tired. They helped adapt the Bicicletas for the kids so we could ride around the island and participate in the Bike tour. The Missanga tour was great and makes you appreciate the work that goes into collecting and making the bead necklaces sold to tourists. It was amazing watching people pan for gold on the beach.
Ilha blue also gave us great information on markets, Capulana shopping, tailors, bars,and places to eat (I loved the chocolate tarts at “Nice Sabores” and the kids loved the margherita pizzas at “Anchoro d’ouro”!!). They even arranged for someone to plait my daughter’s hair!
Unfortunately the weather was not kind and we missed our camping trip to Ilha das Cobras – by all accounts this trip is an absolute highlight. The trip is only held on the Full and New moons. We will just have to visit another time…
At the age of 58 I thought I had seen and done my remote/adventure travelling however by the most wonderful of circumstances I found myself on the totally gorgeous and enchanting Ilha de Mozambique, where I was introduced to the island and all its splendour by Ilha Blue. A tourist operator that is like a social enterprise as they always put the locals first both with training and jobs. It was with Ilha Blue under a local that I toured the island by bike, learning about the history, the people and the architecture.. Next day with Ilha Blue sailed by dhow to the mainland where I swam in a crystal clear lagoon, sat under a Baobab tree eating fresh caught fish and coconut rice followed by a walk through a fishing village, fabulous all with our local guide who not only provided information but cooked the amazing lunch. You can tell the managers, Gail and Pete, love the island and that shows in all they provide and all they think of for each tour, their professionalism and their humour make for a great mix they sure made me feel young again and ready for more. I truly recommend them to anyone of any age visiting the island.
Deb – Melbourne, Australia
I have had a wonderful holiday on Ilha de Mozambique. It may be a little inconvenient to get to the island when you land at the airport in Nampula but there are several ways to reach the island and it is worth the trouble . On the island I found a small shop which sells books, wine and small handmade souvenirs. In front of the store there were bikes for hire and I met the people from Ilha Blue when I wanted to rent a bike.
Ilha Blue is a kind of local tourist office and I soon found out that it was not ordinary. By talking to them and using their unique offerings I gained valuable information that I could not find in another place and I’ve also been able to see the island up close. I have for example attended their bike ride around the island with a local guide . The guide took us on a quiet tour where he not only showed us the sights but also told us about the exciting stories behind the places. He also served as a nice “middleman” between us tourists and local islanders . I could feel the presence of him made the people relaxed.
I have heard that they also have another trip where you can buy fabric from the local markets and you can get it made immediately by local tailors. I would like to try this next time.
Reviewer – Denmark, Copenhagen
Ilha de Mozambique is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, unique, culturally rich and fascinating places I have reached on my travels, and the lovely couple at Ilha Blue provide really fun and interesting ways to see the island. I started with a bicycle tour, with a very sweet local guide, which is a great, relaxing way to get to know the island, and was such a fan that I then signed up for a kayak tour, for a whole different perspective. Highly recommended!
Amina Barrotti – London, UK
Wow! I can really recommend this! The island is just breath-taking! We did a bike tour with a local guide, which was so good that we decided to take a kayak tour too! I’d never kayaked before, but really enjoyed the experience – great local guide and the people who run it are super nice. A great place to unwind after months of the hard trek around Africa. If you’re looking for something different and in a place that’s not full of tourists then this is it! Will definitely return to this jewel in the ocean!!!
Martin H – Brisbane, Australia
I spent a couple of months in Ilha and soon I met Peter and Gail. The fun, happy, extremely friendly couple soon became my greatest friends there. Ilha by itself is a fantastic place. I travelled through 50 different countries and I have never seen a place like this. And the idea of showing the place by Kayak and Bicycle with the local people as guides couldn’t be better! It’s a great way to know some of the local people – I had never met people like the Mozambicans. They are full of stories, fun, with a very true and happy heart! They are always willing to give you a smile, a compliment and a hug.
Kayaking around the island can be a bit tiring, but I was amazed by the blue waters and natural beauty that I had never seen before!
You won’t regret joining this tour and meeting this wonderful people! I treasure every moment I spent in Ilha, every conversation I had and my friendship with Gail and Peter!
Lisa Fujisawa – Sao Paulo, Brazil
My partner and I were lucky enough to do this tour when the company was first setting up. What impressed us most was the true local feel of the company. Pete and Gail have worked in linguistics and community development in remote Australia for a many years. They are also a heap of fun. It didn’t take long for them to get to know their new colleagues and neighbours and there is a genuine sense of hilarity and teamwork that pervades the whole experience.
We did the bike tour and a walking tour and aside from the absolute beauty of the island (yes the photos are really what it looks like – every scene a perfect picture) we got to know our guide, our guide’s mates, his favourite foods, his mosque, his family, the house he grew up, where he was when the last big cyclone hit and how he coped, where he goes to party on a saturday night and of course we shared fashion tips. The residents of Ilha de Mozambique are genuinely interested in people and it was great to walk and bike around this incredible place feeling like you’re hanging out with a new mate. The pace was perfect, the scenery incredible and the company exhilirating.
Cate Y – Alice Springs, Australia
My partner and I stayed in Ilha for about a week and did three of Ilha Blue’s fabulous tours. As well as being lots of fun, they were all highly educational, perfectly organised and gave us a real chance to get to know our local guides. The best thing you can do on Ilha and money well spent.
The first tour we did was the overnight to deserted Ilha das Cobras (aka Sena Island), to kayak the tidal lagoons on the inside of the island. These were simply spectacular – crystal clear salt water that rises and falls with the outside tides, and exposes a complex cave system that we explored with snorkels and kayaks. The little camp site was very cool too, accessed by ducking under a coral shelf. Food was prepared fresh by the local chef, Ayuba, and the whole trip was expertly guided by Geito. Access was by means of a local dhow, which was a cool experience. Overall, a very good value adventure in a beautiful setting!
Our second tour was Ilha by bike with Selemany. Setting off on the sturdy and distinctive red Pashley bicycles, we headed for a meander through ancient streets and into the densely populated Makuti Town. Highlights included the traditional silver and goldsmith, the fish market, the many mosques and all the smiling faces. It was interesting getting Selemany’s views on the two “faces” of Ilha -the largely deserted and crumbling Stonetown side by side with the hugely overpopulated and desperately poor Makuti Town. Great tour and very informative, but understandably exposed so be sure to pack some suncream!
Having really enjoyed getting a local view I’d Ilha, we decided to book another tour with the energetic Selemany – an exploration of “missangas” aka the antique glass beads and treasures that wash up on Ilha’s beaches from colonial shipwrecks. This new (at time of writing) tour was a totally different experience again… Selemany has been trading glass beads and necklaces for years, as well as shards of original Ming pottery. He was quick to help us tell real from fake, explaining how these things came to be on which beach and how the local teenagers know where to dig in the sand. He showed us one young guy literally panning for colonial gold, turning up impossibly tiny flakes amid a huge pile of wet sand. Finally it was our turn, and we set about finding the colourful glass beads for ourselves. An hour later and we had had a small handful, as well as a new group of friends among the local kids, who came over to help us hunt for beads once they realised why two foreigners were poring over their beach. An unconventional tour but great fun, and it really helped us understand the true value of the strings of these glass beads you can buy all over Ilha. Believe us, finding them is harder than it looks!
Finally, and most importantly for us, the very welcoming owners, Gail and Pete, are on a mission to train and up-skill local guides, so every metacal you spend directly benefits the community. A great time with strong local benefits… what more can you ask?
Reviewer – London, UK
It was very nice to rent a bicycle to explore Ilha, which is not something usual in Mozambique. The Ilha Blue people are very nice and have a great business plan by offering tourists some more active forms for getting to know (Ilha de) Mozambique and help locals working in tourism.
Prices are very normal and there are several options for tours you can choose from.
Merel M – Amsterdam, The Netherlands