With a deep passion for island exploration, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing the world’s most captivating island destinations.
Among all the gems I’ve encountered, Africa’s islands stand out as true paradises, offering a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty, absorbing cultures, and incredible adventures.
Join me as I unveil the Top 10 African Islands to Visit in 2024, each with its unique charm and allure, promising an unforgettable escape into the heart of Africa’s island paradise.
1. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar, also known as Unguja, is a captivating island steeped in history, culture, and natural splendor. People love Zanzibar for its harmonious blend of relaxation and exploration.
You’re coming here for squeaky-clean beaches, lush rainforests, super vast spice farms, and the ancient Stone Town
About 500,000 tourists are visiting Zanzibar in 2023.
What makes Zanzibar such as special destination for travel is its rich history (The Indian spice trades), the scuba dive sites and centers, the quite peculiar Swahili culture, the multitude of wildlife, the phenomenal beaches, and the historic stone town.
Exploring the labyrinthine alleyways of Stone Town is an experience you won’t forget in a lifetime.
People and Culture
Their rich Swahili culture is evident in their music, dance, and traditional crafts. Zanzibar’s culture is a fascinating fusion of African, Arab, and Indian influences, evident in its cuisine, architecture, and traditions.
The Zanzibar archipelago is accessible by air and sea. The airport connects to major international destinations, and regular ferries operate from mainland Tanzania.
Top fun things to do in Zanzibar:
Explore the historical Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Go scuba diving or snorkeling in Zanzibar.
Visit Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park to see the endangered red colobus monkeys
Immerse yourself in Swahili culture at local markets and traditional villages
Relax on the pristine beaches of Kendwa and Nungwi.
2. Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Mauritius, is a paradise island in the Indian Ocean, with a worldwide reputation for its turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and lush sugarcane fields.
Approximately 1.3 million visitors land on this Island every year.
Don’t come here if you’re on a budget. With luxurious resorts, diverse activities, and friendly locals, Mauritius is the epitome of an island vacation.
Volcanic landscapes, diverse wildlife, and Creole culture set Mauritius apart from other destinations.
People and Culture
The people of Mauritius are known for their friendly attitude and warm hospitality. Their Creole culture, a mix of African, French, and Indian influences, is evident in their music, dance, and cuisine.
Mauritian culture is a melting pot of traditions with strong African, French, and Indian influences.
The Island is well-connected by air with direct flights from major international destinations.
There is an extensive bus network connecting various areas on the island, and taxis are always available.
Popular tourist activities in Mauritius:
Relax on the pristine beaches of Flic-en-Flac and Grand Baie.
Go on a dolphin-watching tour in Tamarin Bay.
Hike in the Black River Gorge National Park.
Discover underwater wonders at Bay Marine Park Immerse yourself in Creole culture at Mahesbourg Market.
3. Seychelles, Indian Ocean
If you’re up for a luxury retreat on one of the finest Islands in the world, then pack your bags for Seychelles.
Rich in rainforests, immaculate beaches, and distinctive species, the Seychelles archipelago, with 115 islands dispersed around the Indian Ocean, is a sanctuary of unspoiled beauty.
It’s an ideal vacation location for honeymooners and nature lovers with its private coves, turquoise waters, and opulent resorts. A little adventure, more quiet, calm, and pleasure.
Location: northeast of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean
About 300,000 people visit Seychelles every year.
Seychelles’s secluded setting, immaculate beaches, and distinctive wildlife. Anse Lazio on Praslin is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever set foot on.
The underwater world is equally mesmerizing – I highly recommend a scuba dive around the coral reefs.
4. Reunion, Indian Ocean
If you’re up for real overseas adventure travel, get ready for the Reunion. The Reunion, an island paradise in the Indian Ocean, is a volcanic gem known for its dramatic landscapes, lush rainforests, and diverse outdoor activities.
Reunion is an adventurer’s paradise that salutes visitors with towering peaks, cascading waterfalls, and black-sand beaches.
Location: Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
The Reunion is a truly unique destination in Africa, although partly claimed by France, attracting nearly 500,000 visitors every year. for its volcanic landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and Creole culture.
Hiking to the rim of Piton de la Fournaise and witnessing an eruption will be once-in-a-lifetime experiences for you and your family. The blend of French and Creole cultures adds a unique flavor to the island.
I hiked through verdant rainforests, marveled at the active volcano Piton de la Fournaise, and savored the flavors of Creole cuisine.
People and Culture
The people of Reunion are known for their warm hospitality and laid-back attitude. Their Creole culture, a mix of African, French, and Indian influences, is evident in their music, dance, and cuisine.
Reunion’s culture is a tapestry of traditions, with strong influences from Africa, France, and India. This diversity is reflected in their language, music, and festivals.
Reunion is accessible by air, with direct flights from major European destinations. A comprehensive bus network connects various regions of the island, and taxis are readily available.
Top Tourist Activities on the Reunion Island:
Hike to the summit of Piton de la Fournaise, an active volcano
Explore the waterfalls and lush rainforests of Réunion National Park
Discover the underwater world of Grand Bassin Natural Marine Reserve
Indulge in water sports like surfing, kitesurfing, and kayaking
Immerse yourself in the Creole culture at the Saint-Denis Market
5. Lamu Island, Kenya
Lamu is one hell of an Island Off the northeastern coast of Kenya, one of the must-visit tourist destinations in East Africa. It hosts around 30,000 annually, which is quite a lot, for a small country.
What sets Lamu apart in my and the public’s opinion is a well-preserved Swahili settlement, a UNESCO site known for its narrow winding streets and traditional architecture.
Lamu is a step back in time. The lack of cars and the use of donkeys for transportation create a unique and tranquil atmosphere – which is why it made my list.
I believe every person on earth should visit this Island at least once in their lifetime.
The local cuisine, especially the Swahili seafood dishes, is a delight for foodies.
People and Culture
African Islands to Visit their Swahili culture is evident in their language, music, dance, and traditional crafts.
Lamu Island’s culture is a rich tapestry of Swahili, Arab, and African influences, reflected in their cuisine, architecture, and traditions.
Top things to do on Lamo Island:
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lamu Old Town
Visit the ruins of Gede, an ancient Swahili city
Sail on a traditional dhow boat around Lamu Bay
Indulge in Swahili cuisine at local restaurants
Immerse yourself in the local culture at the Lamu Museum
6. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
With its world-class diving, snorkeling, and fishing opportunities, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.
Location: Off the coast of Mozambique, East Africa
Approximately 50,000 people visit The archipelago every year.
The Bazaruto Archipelago was a quiet haven of tranquility, a place where I could truly escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
I spent my days snorkeling among coral reefs teeming with colorful fish, indulging in fresh seafood delicacies, and relaxing on pristine beaches.
7. Sao Tome and Principe, West Africa
São Tomé and Príncipe, two volcanic islands nestled in the Gulf of Guinea, offer a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and cultural traditions.
With their lush rainforests, volcanic peaks, and traditional villages, São Tomé and Príncipe provide an authentic African island experience.
Location: Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of West Africa
Approximately 25,000 people visit Sao Tome and Principe every year.
Visiting São Tomé and Príncipe was a journey into the heart of Africa’s island paradise. I explored the lush rainforests of Obo National Park, marveled at the volcanic peaks of Pico do Príncipe, and immersed myself in the traditional rhythms of local music and dance.
People and Culture
The Santomean and Principean people are known for their welcoming nature and rich cultural heritage. Their traditions and beliefs are deeply rooted in their African and Portuguese heritage.
São Tomé and Príncipe’s culture is a fusion of African, Portuguese, and Creole influences, evident in their music, dance, cuisine, and language.
The Island is accessible by air, with direct flights from Lisbon and other African cities. Domestic flights connect the two islands, and taxis are readily available.
Top Things to do in Sao Tome and Principe:
African Islands to Visit hike to the summit of Pico do Príncipe, the highest mountain in the Gulf of Guinea
Discover the diverse wildlife of Obo National Park, home to endemic bird species and giant tortoises
Explore the historical capital of São Tomé, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Relax on the pristine beaches of Principe Island
Immerse yourself in the local culture at the market in São Tomé
8. Nosy Be, Madagascar
Nosy Be, an island off the northwest coast of Madagascar, is a paradise of lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and vibrant coral reefs. With its luxurious resorts, diverse activities, and laid-back atmosphere, Nosy Be is a dream destination for relaxation and adventure.
Over 100,000 visitors per year to enjoy its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse marine life make it a unique destination.
Nosy Be is a symphony of natural beauty and cultural charm. You’ll spend your days exploring the rainforests of Lokobe National Park, or perhaps snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs, and relaxing on the idyllic beaches of Nosy Be.
9. Djerba Island, Tunisia
You’ll meet the Djerba Island in the Gulf of Gabès, off the coast of Tunisia. It’s one of those rare Islands that may not look real – because they’re somewhat magical.
This is North Africa’s Star Island, with extreme popularity. Around 2 million people visit the remarkable beaches and resorts on Djerba Island.
If you’re drawn to the Arab culture, you’ll love it here. Djerba seamlessly blends history and relaxation. The medina, with its whitewashed buildings and vibrant markets, is a must-visit.
What Makes Djerba unique is primarily its beautiful sandy beaches, historic sites like the El Ghriba synagogue, and traditional souks.
The rich history of Djerba, coupled with its inviting beaches, creates a perfect balance for a memorable vacation. Exploring the ancient ruins and enjoying local delicacies will make your trip unforgettable.
10. Cape Verde Islands, West Africa
African Islands to visit the archipelago of volcanic islands off the coast of West Africa, Cape Verde is a destination known for its diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and laid-back atmosphere.
With its beaches, hiking trails, and music scene, you’re in for a nice blend of relaxation and adventure.
Location: Off the coast of West Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean.
Half a million tourists register their names on the shores of Cape Verde, every year.
Cape Verde’s volcanic landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and rich cultural heritage make it a truly unique destination.
Cape Verde was a journey into the heart of West Africa’s island paradise. I hiked through volcanic craters, savored the flavors of Creole cuisine, and danced to the infectious rhythms of local music.
People and Culture:
African Islands to Visit the Cape Verdean people are known for their warm hospitality and vibrant culture. Their traditions and beliefs are deeply rooted in their African and Portuguese heritage.
Cape Verde’s culture is a fusion of African, Portuguese, and Creole influences, evident in their music, dance, cuisine, and language.
The Island is accessible by air, with direct flights from major European cities. Domestic flights connect the various islands, and ferries operate between some islands.
Top things to do in Cape Verde:
Hike to the summit of Mount Fogo, an active volcano
Explore the beaches and volcanic landscapes of Sal Island
Discover the diverse marine life of Boa Vista Island
Immerse yourself in the local culture at the Mindelo Carnival on São Vicente Island
Relax on the pristine beaches of Santo Antão Island
Discover more amazing holiday destinations in Africa.
Ferona Jose is a passionate travel writer and blogger at Travelistia. She has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her writing focuses on cheap travel destinations, travel experiences, cultural insights, and travel hacks.