Mussulo, Angola

Photo: Resort Roça das Mangueiras
Photo: Resort Roça das Mangueiras

The coast, especially the eastern coast, of Southern Africa is one of your favorite areas on the continent. South Africa and Namibia have long stretches of empty, windswept beaches. Whether you’re going on a safari, visiting wine country, or hanging out in Cape Town, you always add time along the coast to your trips. But why stop there?

Angola sits just north of Namibia, but it’s never been high on vacationers’ wish lists. A revolutionary war to oust Portuguese colonizers ended in 1975, only for a civil war to break out. It lasted for decades. The fighting finally stopped in 2002, and political stabilization slowly followed. Now people are finally starting to explore the rapidly expanding capital city of Luanda, the recently revitalized Kissama National Park, and the beautiful beaches along the Atlantic coast.

Your trip starts in Luanda, a city whose wealth comes from petroleum and mineral reserves. Since it’s bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, you don’t have to travel far to start seeing that gorgeous coastline. A barrier peninsula, created by sediment from the Cuanza River, lies southwest of the city. Beach huts and restaurants face east toward the mainland; people use them as an escape from the city. While the wild west coast has those endless beaches, strong sea currents, and stunning sunsets.

A quick, 10-minute speedboat ride across Mussulo Bay brings you to a long pier and Roça das Mangueira. The resort, one of the best around Luanda, looks like the ideal tropical getaway. Palapas dot the wide, white-sand beach. The green-tinted pool is lined with striped sun loungers. A beach bar is set up in a stone hut near it. Lots of palm trees, some strung with hammocks, surround the one-story buildings and the little bungalows. Plus the thatched-roof restaurant’s tables spill onto its terrace at the edge of the sand. You can’t wait to start snorkeling, waterskiing, and windsurfing.

Your first stop isn’t the hut with the gear for water sports, though. You’re leaving the sun loungers, the beach bars, and even the fishermen behind, at least for a little while, to see the rarely visited Atlantic coast. As expected, the fine sand has been pounded by forceful waves. Tree branches, seashells, and a few scraps of metal have washed against the shore. While aside from a few noisy gulls, fighting over the remains of a fish, it’s completely deserted. Sunset on this beautiful beach is yours and yours alone tonight.

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