Santa Carolina Isl Mozambique

Paradise Island was the former name for Santa Carolina Island when it was an international playground for the wealthy. The island is the smallest of the Bazaruto Archipelago, a group of six rocky islands once part of Mozambique’s mainland. A Marine National Park now encompasses the archipelago, protecting land and sea. A ring of coral reefs protects Santa Carolina Island and provides great snorkelling from sandy beaches. The corals display a variety of shapes and textures and the fish are vibrant in colour. Seeking and watching hundreds of species of fish and molluscs will keep you busy in the water. The park’s seagrass protects the last viable population (250) of dugongs west of Australia. Dugongs are relatives of the Manatee and were mistaken for mermaids. They are difficult to spot but look for their triangular snouts and rounded backs.

Santa Carolina Island waters are one of the best places in the world to search. Santa Carolina Island was a Portuguese ivory trading post and then a penal settlement in the 19th century, and a prisoner of war camp in WWII. In 1962, Joaquim Alves, a flamboyant Portuguese businessman, built the grand 250-room Hotel Santa Carolina on what was then called Paradise Island.

It attracted crowds of trendy international tourists. A young Bob Dylan wrote his song “Mozambique” after staying at the hotel. You can still see the ruins of the buildings. It was abandoned during Mozambique’s independence and civil wars. Now, the marine life provides the touch of paradise.

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