Best Place For Travel

That pirates would find Quirimbas irresistible is hardly surprising. Lying off the northern coast of Mozambique, heavy with merchant ship traffic yet fairly remote, back in the piracy’s “Golden Age” the archipelago offered plenty of uninhabited islands and baobab trees to bury one’s loot under.

The buccaneers gone, their tales live on and so do the ancient baobabs, mangroves, coral reefs, countless species of birds and abundant marine life.

More armchair adventurers than lawless sea robbers, we bury our noses in the pages of The Treasure Island and The Gold-Bug and arrive on Medjumbe well-versed in all things pirate and ready to hunt us some treasure.

The book that Anantara Medjumbe takes a page from is of a different kind, however. Rather than a salty flotilla of rough-and-ready characters, it features a brooding castaway marooned on a remote island. A role that we, hoping to placate our restive inner Robinson Crusoe, were only too happy to try out when signing up for resort’s new Star Bed Experience.

In our private villa, as we are packing our bags for the ultimate sleepover escape, we double up on sunblock but ditch the mosquito repellent on a promise of an insect-free experience. The absence of fresh water doesn’t leave Robinson Crusoe wannabies much choice but to arrive well-stocked with supplies, but it also means that pesky bloodsuckers don’t breed here. We are sold.

After a scenic 15-minute voyage on a traditional dhow boat, we arrive at Quissanga Island and it isn’t long before the crew, having set up camp, leaves us alone. As in, they leave and we stay. It’s just us now. This takes some time to sink in but when it eventually does, the range of emotions that washes over us is like nothing we’ve experienced before. There is mild terror (“They are coming back for us, aren’t they?”), pure unbridled joy (“The treasure hunt is on!”) but also we are humbled. By the vastness of the Indian Ocean, so calm that its surface looks varnished; by the sparkling canopy of stars whispering the mysteries of the universe to everyone who cares to listen; by how stepping out of the concrete jungle seems to have heightened all out senses tenfold.

It’s all impossibly romantic: the tiki torches and flickering candles, the cooling breeze and the spray of the surf, the constellations and the shooting stars. Reclining on cushions for the sundowners, a cornucopia of delicacies spilling out of a gourmet picnic hamper, we wonder what the world’s most famous castaway would make of it.

We sleep straight through the night undisturbed by mosquitoes, mobile phone alerts and light pollution. From the high perch of our four-poster bed, luxuriating in fine linens delicately scented by sea salt, we watch the sun rise in slow motion. The habitual sliding of the feet off the bed and feeling around for slippers produces a pair of flip-flops instead – half-buried in powdery sand and not worn once since getting on the island. Still barefoot, we go for a stroll around the minute island keeping an eye out for any humpback whales and ending it with a swim in crystal clear water.

Just as we are sending a bottle with our message in a high arc into the surf (a treasure map drawn on a whim and revealing some rather questionable draughtsmanship), the energetic Anantara boatmen make landfall and after a flurry of activity restoring the island to its pristine natural state, we set off in the direction of Medjumbe where a lavish breakfast is waiting for us.

Hello, civilisation! It’s been a while.