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Hottest Travel Destinations of 2012

Courtesy of Azura

Mozambique’s Northern Coast

This stretch of Indian Ocean coastline has upped the ante in recent years, with rustic-chic beach retreats giving way to polished lodges and ultra-luxe resorts to rival those of Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Vamizi Island Lodge: Lining a mile-long beach in the far northern Quirimbas, a ribbon of 32 coral islands near the Tanzanian border, Vamizi has 15 villas decked out with marble showers and ocean-view dining rooms. There’s no TV, but you can watch the samango monkeys and tropical birds that make Vamizi home. 44-1285/762-218; doubles from $590.

Ibo Island Lodge: Located in the cultural heart of the Quirimbas, Ibo’s trio of colonial-era mansions reflects the island’s centuries-old Arab, Indian, and Portuguese heritage. Wide verandas have hand-carved teak daybeds, while the nine rooms come dressed with Indian silk throws. The lodge takes guests on island-hopping dhow safaris. 27-21/702-0285; doubles from $730.

Azura at Quilalea Private Island: The nine coral stone-and-thatch bungalows of Azura, set on the southern end of the Quirimbas, look onto a protected deepwater bay where Portuguese and Arab traders once docked their dhows. 27-76/705-0599; doubles from $1,190.

Coral Lodge 15.41: This 10-villa property combines local woods and colorful African accents with plush amenities such as a seaside spa and an infinity pool. Perched on a peninsula a short boat ride from Ilha de Moçambique, the 16th-century Portuguese colonial capital, Coral Lodge arranges tours of the island’s ruins. 258-266/60003; doubles from $850.

Nuarro: Tucked into the lush dunes of the Baixo do Pinda peninsula, 100 miles north of Ilha de Moçambique, Nuarro’s 12 thatched-roof bungalows have sweeping bay views out front and a rugged panorama of bush and baobab forest. 258-82/301-4294; doubles from $590. —Douglas Rogers

The Breakdown

Who It’s For: Honeymooners; post-safari sybarites; private-island connoisseurs.

When to Go: May–Sept.

How to Do It: Your resort or tour operator can help with travel arrangements.

Exotic Factor: Far-Flung

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