Kisawa is a 300 hectare sanctuary of forest, beach and sand dunes, set on the southern tip of Benguerra Island, 14 km from Mozambique. Off the eastern coast of Africa, the region has some of the richest and least explored subtropical ecosystems in the Indian Ocean. The hotel has been designed to blend in with its unspoilt surroundings, using traditional weaving, thatching and carpentry, local timber and the wares of local artisans.
Kisawa has access to some of the most unique travel experiences in the world. The sanctuary offers different levels of PADI certified private and group diving experiences ranging from bare-skin snorkelling with turtles and reef fish to deep sea diving with black, blue and striped marlin, sail fish, yellowfin tuna, bull and tiger sharks and manta rays. Guests can join diving expeditions in cave systems, seamounts, pinnacles or simply explore the open ocean reef, enjoying the plentiful sea life.
KISAWA IS A MODERN-DAY INTERPRETATION OF MOZAMBIQUE. I TOOK CUES FROM THE TROPICAL MODERNIST MOVEMENT, AS WELL AS THE WORK OF LOCAL CRAFTSMEN, TO CREATE THE SANCTUARY'S INTEGRATED AMBIANCE.
NINA FLOHR, FOUNDER
Across Kisawa, making the lightest possible footprint on the natural landscape has been a priority. The sanctuary partners and helps fund the Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies, Africa’s first-ever permanent ocean observatory, also established by Kisawa’s founder, a Swiss businesswoman whose father founded the VistaJet private jet company and who married into European royalty. Sanctuary guests can join scientists on coral-monitoring dives and help them tag sharks from research vessels.
Featuring 22 bungalows, each with a thatched roof and comfortable interiors adorned with natural tones, the accommodation oozes rusticity and charm. A spacious private deck offers beautiful views of the ocean from the infinity pool, along with an outdoor kitchen and seating area to enjoy during the island’s balmy evenings. Each bungalow has a TV, record player and vinyl collection, stocked pantry, outdoor kitchen and shower and Vanaveda bath products.
Led by Culinary Director Joseph Moubayed, the sanctuary aims to serve the best of African cuisine in fresh, modern ways. The barefoot restaurant Baracca lists classics on the menu, the green-scheme Mussassa has a beach-café vibe and the open-plan Main Terrace features a robata grill. Guests may also choose a fisherman’s dhow that’s been converted into a relaxed beach bar or private dining options on the sand or their bungalow’s deck.
A network of local fishermen, farmers and suppliers provide produce from within 300 km of Kisawa, with as much as possible grown in the estate’s permaculture gardens. Bread, cheese and smoked meats are prepared in the kitchens. Fresh seafood is to the fore, along with a tantalising fusion of traditional Mozambican dishes enhanced with South Indian flavours. A typical meal may be flame-grilled prawns, roti and a coconut sorbet in a ‘coconut’ shell made of chocolate.
KISAWA IS RADICAL IN BOTH ITS REMOTENESS AND FREEDOM, WHERE ATTENTIVENESS IS BALANCED WITH ADVENTURISM. ACTIVITIES INCLUDE OVERNIGHT GLAMPING ON THE DUNES, SUNSET COCKTAILS ON A TRADITIONAL DHOW AND EXPEDITIONS TO SPOT RARE SEA COWS.
Kisawa’s stand-alone spa, The Natural Wellness Centre, specialises in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic offerings. The focus is on achieving wellbeing through the unity of mind, body and spirit. Set in the dunes and built to resemble a traditional circular village house, the biophilic wellness space is spread across different domes, each representing an element or energy. One is a Japanese Iyashi infrared sauna, a hot healing tunnel.
The spa offers an indulgent array of revitalising treatments that incorporate local and indigenous ingredients along with a series of yoga rituals. Guests can sign up for reiki, breathwork, energetic healing and Ayurvedic treatments using honey, sea salt, herbs and coconut and almond oil, all sourced on the island. Vanaveda products from cult Indian spa Vana are used throughout the sanctuary. Practitioners in residence include a holistic doctor and a yoga teacher and various visiting masters call by.