Ilha das Cobras

Beautiful Ilha das Cobras

Cannot recommend Ilha Blue enough. Pete, Gail and the whole team were fantastically helpful and accommodating. We did the overnight dhow and camping trip on Ilha das Cobras and it was superb – the lagoon with its nesting cormorants and illuminated cave systems was otherworldly and the whole atmosphere was perfect. Ayuba and the other guides were very helpful and friendly throughout. The welcome did not stop at the end of the tour and we often spent time with Pete, Gail and the other members of the team once we were back on the main island. A lovely experience.

Sam B – Dubai, UAE
Green Mosque

History, culture and fabulous island life

Local knowledge is a blessing when travelling to new territory and the crew at Ilha Blue are generous with theirs which made my brief trip to Mozambique Island complete with blue water fun – kayaking, sailing and snorkelling – coral island exploration, historical tours and great local food (best seafood ever… and I mean ever!) . Without the guidance of these wonderful people I would never have made the peaceful dhow sail to Ilha das Cobra with its amazing tidal lagoons and network of ancient and swimmable coral caves, nor ventured into the smallest laneways on the island where the history and lives of the islanders comes into focus. I’m a bit of a chicken on the water but the experience, skills and support of the Ilha Blue team kept me focused on the fun and incredible ocean creatures and not my phobias. What a great break!! Thanks to Pete, Gail, Pilale, Abdul, Ambasse, Selemane and Ayupa and Renti for showing me the best of Ilha de Mozambique!

Paula – Melbourne, Australia

View our tours

sunset mangrove

Camping on Cobras Island

A friend and I took the dhow trip out to Cobras Island and really enjoyed it. Our own little desert island for a day. The tiny beach where we camped was lovely with amazing rock formations. Kayaking around the lagoon was surreal, it felt totally cut off from the outside world among the mangroves and rocks. Everyone was very friendly and the trip was well organised. And the food was great, simple and delicious!

George – Blantyre, Malawi

View this tour

Baobab Dhow Safari

Sail away

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

View our tours

Friendly, relaxed people with some great activities

As the title says, Peter and Gail are a very friendly, relaxed couple (with a good crew too!) and we thoroughly enjoyed each of the activities we did with Ilha Blue. We had a few weeks on the island and so we had the time to make the most of what was on offer. We started off with a Dhow trip to and overnight stay on Ilha de Cobras…. the trip to the lagoon at low tide and then kayaking and snorkelling at high tide was great and the company too. It’s surprising what you might see under that surface.

Over the course of the two weeks we also kayaked out to a number of areas to snorkel around the coral reef (I think maybe our favourite activity but the Ilha de Cobras is certainly up there too) and an enjoyable, fun and informative Dhow trip to the nearby peninsula. We also rented a couple of bikes for a trip around the island… a great way to get around in the heat! We thoroughly recommend Ilha Blue for all the above reasons but also for the food!! Thanks Peter, Gail and the guys…

Lance B – Tete Province, Mozambique

View these tours

Baobab dhow safari

Exquisite tour of Ilha das Cobras

This trip is the best thing I’ve done in Mocambique to date. It is truly a unique experience, and for us, the delightful surprises just kept coming, one after another.

First a true sailing dhow trip (no motors around here!) with an approach to the island that could be successfully executed only with the high tides of new moon and full moon – just that alone made it feel special! Then a volcanic rock formation that looked like a whale tail. Then the most idyllic beach camp site we’ve ever seen. Then an unforgettable kayak and swim exploration of the interior lagoon, which fills up twice a day with the swelling ocean tide, and creates an ever-changing network of caves and passageways from one crystal clear pool to another – as far as we know this is a natural marvel unique to the world!

Then delicious food (including lobsters and G&Ts to celebrate Christmas). Then camping under the stars. Then a quick refreshing morning dip in the ocean. Then a circumambulation of the entire island, which included a rock outline of a mosque for use by passing fishermen, and a shaman’s exorcism hut, since after all, this island is where the evil spirits from Ilha de Mocambique are sent :). Then one last visit to the enchanting lagoon maze and a beautiful dhow ride back to Ilha de Mocambique. What a treat!!

Highly recommended to anyone who wants an almost-backpacker-priced, off-the-beaten-trail experience with the natural beauty and solitude that is normally reserved for elite luxury establishments.

Gail and Peter run their company with utmost environmental and social responsibility, investing a ton of effort in training and capacity building of their local team, with the long term aim of raising the bar among all the tourist companies on the island, which they see as partners rather than competitors. Plus they are kind, kind souls, with lots of great stories up their sleeves! If you can, try to make some time to get to know them.

Elena – Maputo, Mozambique

View this tour

Ilha das Cobras

Authentic tours run by enthusiastic staff

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

View these tours

Ilha das Cobras

An Ilha das Cobras experience

Having seen a report on the trip out to Ilha das Cobras, we decided to give it a try, not quite knowing what to expect. Well, the experience was unlike anything we had done before. From meeting Gail and Pete the day before, to arriving back safely the day after, we were entranced with the whole experience.

The trip over by dhow was unusual in that there was no wind so we paddled across, paddling done mainly by a very cheerful crew, but also aided and abetted by ourselves. We had plenty of time to enjoy the views of the slowly receding Ilha de Mozambique, Goa Island and the slowly approaching Ilha das Cobras. The tide was higher than it should have been due to the length of the crossing, so the landing was interesting, but accomplished with no problems.

The trip to the lagoon with its mangroves was  “otherworldly” with the clear water, the shaded areas between the mangrove roots, the birds and the quietness with just the sound of the sea in the background. Then back to a neatly set up camp and a cold drink in the moonlight after the sunset! We had the best dinner of our entire 9 day Moz trip on the small beach, cooked by Ayuba and his crew – marlin done with the perfect amount of lemon, wonderfully crispy and served with coconut rice and salad. Our tent roof was see-through so when we woke during the night the full moon was always visible as it moved across the sky above us.

After breakfast the next morning we had time to swim, snorkel and visit the lagoon again, before boarding the dhow at about midday, and sailing back with just exactly the right amount of wind. We could not fault the organisation or the friendliness of Gail, Pete and the crew and a big thanks goes to all for making our last days in Moz so different and so much fun.

Bev and Hedley Gerhardt – Johannesburg, South Africa

View this tour

Ilha das Cobras

The right place at the right tides

Ilha Blue’s overnight dhow trips to a small island called Ilha das Cobras, off the coast of the wonderfully bizarre Ilha do Mocambique, only happen for a few days of the month – when the tide is right.

Ilha das Cobras is home to a tidal lagoon; a complex series of caverns that fill and empty during the course of the day. Upon arrival on the island, we left our faithful chef Ayuba to rustle up some grub while we went to frolick in the then shallow-ish lagoon, mostly filled with strange orange-yellow jellyfish (which don’t sting, Gail assured me.) We were welcomed back at the campsite with an array of exquisite food – including fresh rocket! – which filled my vegetarian tummy. Other meals through the course of the trip included spicy bean stew, grilled linefish which was probably caught within an hour of being put in the grill, matapa siri siri – un-mouthwateringly translated as “local beach weed” on some menus, but certainly a local delicacy – with coconut rice, and an abundance of piri piri, peanut butter and fresh portugese rolls. For breakfast we enjoyed fresh fruit, nutty muesli and spiced coffee.

Our tents were set up for us on the beach. And there was marvellous attention to detail in the campsite: our meals were served on a gorgeous table made of a piece of an old ship, there were hot-coal clay-bowl heaters to keep us warm while we waited for dinner after sunset, and nearly every piece of equipment appeared carefully chosen to not offend a natural sort of aesthetic. Shortly after dinner the sky filled itself with stars, and we even got to see a coconut crab!

On day two we got to appreciate the lagoon at its best; we tried to navigate the spiky coral passageways on a kayak, but some caverns demanded that we abandon ship and employ some entry-level caving skills.

One of the guides was a fisherman and had an almost superhuman ability to spot animals. Without a language in common, I got a tour of the local marine life: from sea cucumbers to snakes (portugese: ‘cobras’) to dolphins to turtles.

I feel overwhelmingly fortunate for having been at the right place at the right tides, and having had the opportunity to enjoy what was an absolute highlight of my time in Mozambique.

Yumbilina – Durban, South Africa

View this tour

Baobab dhow safari

Your wish is their command

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…

Nina K

View these tours

IMG_5481

Fantastic tour with excellent service from the first to the last moment!

A fantastic trip and visit to remember fondly. With a great company, the boat trip was smooth and unique. A unique environment on the island too, where we were treated as five star, and the visit to the lake made me speechless.

Very highly recommended to visit and experience. Many thanks to those who organised and those who accompanied us, like a group of friends they made the time even more fantastic. Thank you.

Ricky C

View this tour

Ilha das Cobras

Superb experience on Ilha das Cobras

Pete and Gail organised very good activities on Ilha de Mozambique: kayak tours, themed tours of the island on foot or by bike and camping on nearby islands.
We went on Ilha das Cobras (or ilha sena) with them for two days. The organisation was excellent, with kayak expeditions in underwater caves and mangroves, excellent cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
In short, Ilha Blue is recommended to discover the island!

Kerman W – Nampula, Mozambique

View this tour

IMG_5508

The lost oasis!

I have been living in Mozambique for a year and a half and little did I know that, there was so much still too see. Well thanks to a very fun, active and extremely friendly couple, Gail and Peter I got to experience an unexpected adventure.

We went on a trip to “Ilha das cobras” (snake island), where so many activities blew my mind. It started off with an amazing sail boat trip from “ilha de Mozambique” (which is amazing) to snake island where we had an extremely relaxing and interesting hike around the island where we got to see a vast amount of seas creature in their natural habitat and at first I thought that it would be a a typical island cruise, but to my surprise the island is the keeper of a few amazing secrets, such as the fact that it is a natural breeding ground for ocean turtles and through the months of July to September you would see a few whales on the coast where they teach their young how to survive.

And the best for last, the island has a natural lagoon, home to very many different jelly fish species and more. It rises and falls according to the ocean tide and what makes this amazing is that the lagoon has no direct superficial contact with the ocean, meaning that the water penetrates through the rocks and sand to fill the lagoon on a daily basis. Here you get to do some amazing kayaking, calm cruise for those who want to have a relaxing voyage and crazy natural tunnels to explore for the more adventurous. In summary it is an amazing experience and an all around family trip. Good food and great company makes the island all the more fantastic. I recommend this trip to anyone of all ages.

Manuel – Nampula, Mozambique

View this tour

IMG_5417

An amazing experience and great people

Well, I feel a little unoriginal giving Ilha Blue a 5-star review, since it seems everyone else has the same sentiment. But it’s five stars well deserved. I stayed on Mozambique for 10 days at the end of August, and one of the best finds on the island was the folks at Ilha Blue. Gail and Peter, the couple who run the business, are super friendly and very interesting people, and their staff are extremely knowledgeable and welcoming. 

One of the highlights of my trip to Mozambique was the overnight camping trip to Ilha das Cobras (which means “island of the snakes” and I must say that really made me hesitate to sign up – but I only saw one teeny snake the whole time so I’d recommend to anyone that they don’t judge an island by it’s name).

Anyways, the trip was great – visiting an uninhabited island that most folks don’t get to because of the finicky tides, but Peter and Gail are not most folks!! The trip was great, and incredibly reasonably priced, and there is nothing like eating delicious, fresh grilled fish under an incredible blanket of stars. And the group was the perfect size and all friendly, interesting people from all parts of the world.

I’m so glad to have met Gail and Peter and the whole Ilha Blue crew. I also really like that the idea of the business is to give travellers beautiful experiences of the island whilst also helping to source jobs for local people. It’s a sustainable and very altruistic aim, and Gail and Pete are to be commended for that.

Great people, great experiences, and great prices – if you’re going to Ilha, go here first!!

Becky M – London, UK

View this tour

IMG_5156

Ilha das Cobras overnight trip with Ilha Blue

This trip with Ilha Blue is an amazing experience – you get to spend the night on an uninhabited island (Ilha das Cobras or Ilha da Sena) just off the coast of Ilha de Moçambique. There is an incredibly gorgeous lagoon that you can explore with the kayaks right in the middle of the island and combined with the beautiful scenery it makes for an idyllic weekend (or mid-week!) getaway.

With Ilha Blue you don’t have to worry about a thing – they brought the tents, the food and water, the kayaks, and all other relevant supplies and you camp right on the beach with a local guide. Absolute perfection… I wouldn’t even want to say more and ruin the surprises that you can only find by going to the island!

Denny Newhouse – Ilha de Mozambique

View this tour

IMG_5512

Great fun kayaking in Ilha das Cobras

It was great fun for slightly more than 24 hours. The kayaking on the lagoons was laid back, and that on the open sea through the high waves was very exciting. The weather was good. The tour leaders were friendly. And the food was really good – almost worth the price of the trip by itself.

Overall, the highlight of my trip to East Africa. If you’re looking for a hugely demanding adventure, it’s probably not for you, but it’s a fun 24 hours nonetheless.

PJ – London, UK

View this tour

IMG_5186

Magical Ilha das Cobras – moonlit majesty

I was lucky enough to embark on the overnight trip to Ilha das Cobras on my recent trip to Mozambique which I would have to say was a major highlight of my entire trip! We set out in perfect weather, sailing along the historical shoreline of Ilha de Mozambique, past the beautiful Fortaleza de Sᾶo Sebastiᾶo and across the azure water towards Ilha das Cobras. The water was so clear we could see the ocean floor the entire time! Once arriving at the island, the low tide exposed fringing reef filled with interesting critters. The local fisherman scoured the reefs looking for fresh octopus and shells to have for dinner or sell back on Ilha. 

We had the opportunity to explore the island while our camp was being set up and it was an absolute treat to find that the island was almost entirely ours. Our own private piece of paradise. We snorkelled, kayaked and explored the intriguing interior of the island, complete with hidden lagoon and a network of caves. 

After experiencing the beautiful sunset over the water we were treated to a delicious dinner of fresh fish and signature coconut rice made by the excellent chef. We spent the evening sitting in the ambient light from the full moon which bathed the island in a cool glow, while recounting our adventures from the day.

On our final morning we had the opportunity to kayak and swim once more, before enjoying our delicious Zanzibar style coffee and sumptuous breakfast. To top off a perfect weekend, we left our island paradise with the gracious farewell from a pod of humpback whales just off the beach. Magnificent!!! 

I would recommend this trip for anyone wanting to experience a unique adventure which is close to nature, relaxing and the envy of everyone at home.

Melissa E – Perth, Australia

View this tour

IMG_5459

Best way to discover paradise

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

View Ilha das Cobras   |   View Ilha by Bike   |   View Missanga Trade Tour

IMG_5209

Ilha das Cobras

I recently went on a trip out to Ilha das Cobras just off Mozambique Island. I had a brilliant time. The organisers were professional and fun, the local captain and guides were very experienced and friendly. The trip was great as we were able to go to a place that is still truly remote and untouched by tourists.

We were able to kayak in the ocean as well as the lagoon on the island and explore places very few people have ever been to.

Great value for money. I can’t recommend it highly enough!!!

Paul Kildea – Dublin, Ireland

View this tour