A beach resort experienced in the rain is a different place to what gets shown on the websites or in the pamphlets. The sky and the waves in front of the lodge turn grey and the wind whips the sand against your legs if you go for a walk, urging expectant clouds across the sky above your head as it does so.
Staying inside at Dugong Beach Lodge, across the bay from Vilanculos is hardly a chore, though. A full-body massage is even good for you, and it’s a valid excuse to lie face-down in a low-lit room – in no rush as every muscle gets a personal workout; a firm but gentle putting in its place.
When the sun does come out, the place becomes a full-on tropical paradise; a schizophrenic flip from what came before. If you’re awake after the massage, you can try out something that involves being vertical. Standup paddle-boarding is a great start, not least because, if the wind and tide are in agreement, you need to do little more than let yourself be a human sail, propelled towards the tip of the peninsula the lodge stands on. On that score, it’s worth sticking close to the shoreline. This means you can angle in towards the beach easily before you get far enough away to make the walk back in the shallows exhausting (that’ll happen; paddling against the wind is for people with energy levels non-commensurate with relaxed holidays).
Dugong offers a rare ‘surf and turf’ sort of deal for visitors. The beach and the water are on one side, but all the rising ground behind the rooms is part of the Vilanculos Coastal and Wildlife Sanctuary, the first privately managed National Park in Mozambique. This means you can literally step off a paddle-board, or towel off after a richly fruitful snorkeling session, and step right onto a game drive vehicle parked behind the bar.
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