“I just want to get away from it all and escape to a private island,” is a common refrain these days. It seems like now more than ever we all need a place to unwind, unplug and just ... breathe. And there is no more perfect place in the world to do so in comfort than Medjumbe Island. Located off the northern coast of Mozambique, in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Medjumbe — a small, teardrop shaped island only 300 kilometers long — is home to the luxury Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort.
The exclusive getaway is comprised of just 12 eco-friendly oceanfront bungalows, each with their own plunge pool and outdoor showers.
I decided to visit the isle at the height of the shoulder season in May — in the midst of an anxiety attack that, for me, usually foreshadows the beginning of summer. Just two hours from Johannesburg, I boarded a private helicopter in Pembe, Mozambique, and, as the mainland floated away and we flew over tiny islands off the coast, my stomach began to unclench. By the time we touched down on Medjumbe, 30 minutes later, I was in awe. Medjumbe is everything you’ve ever imagined — or seen on Instagram — and more.
Every color of blue that ever existed swirls in the ocean and sky with just the sparkling white sandbars dotted with mangrove forest and lush tropical greenery in between. From the moment I disembarked the helicopter, time (and my blood pressure) seemed to slow.
“Karibu,” the Swahili word for welcome, was etched into the sand just outside my hut and it was an apt sentiment as the staff bent over backwards to accommodate any request and the whole of the hotel’s water sports facilities, gear and instructors were available at any time.
In the mornings before breakfast, I would hike around the island, visiting the old Portuguese lighthouse — an abandoned archeological remnant from the time of the slave trade — and walk out onto the ocean floor laid bare by the tide.
Later, I’d set sail for nearby uninhabited islands to fish or snorkel through the immaculate coral reefs, joined occasionally by dolphin pods. After an afternoon nap there were sundowner cocktails on the beach or on an ancient Arab dhow — powered only by the wind — before dining on freshly caught tuna, squid, shrimp and other seafood prepared by the in house chef.
All was a prelude to the real show as the Milky Way came into view and shooting stars blazed across the sky, seemingly so close, they were within reach of my outstretched hand — before being lulled to sleep by the high tide outside my door.
Clocks were not necessary, my phone was checked just once a day, paper books were actually read, and for the first time in years I felt like I was on an actual vacation. Far away from anyone I knew and everything I was overly familiar with, I had time to catch my breath and reflect.
On the final night, after lunch on a nearby island and a deep tissue massage, I and other guests were treated to a bonfire barbeque on the beach where we swapped stories of our lives and adventures.
The next day as I prepared to leave — and other lucky guests arrived — I realized that in just four days, my pre-summer anxiety attack had been washed away and my inner rhythm reset. And while I was sad to go, Medjumbe had healed me in a way I had not anticipated and I was prepared — mentally and physically — to go back and face the daily battles of New York City. And that, to me, was worth every penny.