It’s an island located in the middle of the Mozambique Channel and is also known as the Isle of Pines. It is a popular tourist spot owing to its beautiful beaches, calm waters, and lush vegetation. There are few places in the world that offer such a pristine environment for swimming, scuba diving, fishing, and sunbathing.
The island has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its many historical sites, such as those that commemorate Portuguese navigators and explorers who discovered it in the 16th century.
The island was first sighted by Portuguese navigators in 1505, although it was not colonized until 1589. It passed under the control of the Dutch and then the British, who used it to supply coal to their ships sailing through the Mozambique Channel. The island became a tourist destination in 1954 when an airstrip was built there. The island was officially classified as a nature reserve in 1966 and the airstrip closed down.
The island is now protected and managed by the National Institute of Natural Resources. The climate is sunny and warm all year round, but during the northeast monsoon season (“bangue”) in October to December temperatures may drop below 0 °C.
Precipitation is highest during the northeast monsoon season. Flooding occurs when the upper portion of Epigmeni Brook deposits its load in deep, fast moving stream channels (such as those along Mahaica and Dande rivers) that then flow towards sea level via glacial spillways or beaver ponds (honeypots).
The culture of the island is influenced by its Portuguese heritage. The predominant religion on the island is Christianity, but there are also Muslims and animists. There are few stores or businesses, so most provisions must be brought in by boat.
The natural environment and scenery on Pines Island provide a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, making it a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.
The island is a self-governing territory of the United Kingdom, with its own legislature and government. The British overseas territory has its own police force and currency. For study and research purposes a well defined area has been demarcated on the island for the purpose of documenting nature, as Pines Island lies in close proximity to South Africa. The protected zone is called Nature Reserves & Protected Areas around Epigenionu River mouth which also extends 3 km into coast line where it meets with African bank of Indian Ocean.
Pines Island is serviced by a small hospital, with limited facilities for emergency care. The island has its own post office and bank, both of which are open weekdays from 8:30 am to 5 pm. There is no airstrip on the island, so visitors must ship in their supplies via boat or fly into Durban International Airport. Education
The island’s education system is divided into two components, the primary school set up in each of the three villages (Durbanville, Tabane and St. Pauls) which are attended by children between grades 1 to 6 and high schools for grades 7-12.
A newer special needs school named The Pines Education Centre was established in 1997 that educates students with disabilities through till grade 12 levels every year there several sponsorship groups who run fund-raising and initiatives in the school which take care of their daily meals, transports to special education and other educational activities.
Tourism on Pines Island is mainly focused around nature tourism, with visitors able to access many of the island’s natural attractions from the village centres. There are also several beaches and viewpoints accessible by foot or bicycle from all three villages.
The most popular beaches are Cryners where it has an amazing view to KZN Drakensberg Mountains and the nearby ghost town, which formed up around gold mines during 19th century in this very isolated area. The other two main villages namely Durbanville Beach and Lower Pines Cove Blue Flag beach have their own facilities for camping (as well as roadside overnight parking at night) though with no toilets or showers.
The only means of transport to and from the island is by boat or plane. The village centres are connected by a paved road, but there is no airstrip on the island. Visitors must either arrive via boat from Durban International Airport, or fly into Durban’s central airport (Durbanville Airport). Agni Karimjee for western Cape to Durban City Airport and fly from there by air. Closed on holidays (ie Public holidays).
The main food item on the island is cottage pie, a type of pie typically made from mashed potatoes and various meats or vegetables. Other popular dishes include fried chicken, fish and chips, oxtail soup and damper. The official local delicacy is “lamb on a stick”. The island is home to a large population of seabirds, which use the cliffs for shelter and nesting. The most numerous are storks (including black-necked), herons, grey herons and reef egrets that nest on the rocks.
There are a number of different types of wildlife on the island, including lions, elephants and leopards. The island is also home to several species of monkeys, rodents (such as genets) and reptiles (such as snakes). Some of these species were introduced by the colonists who had already started farming and trapping animals on the nearby mainland. Later, when Mount Oyster Bay was abandoned in 1953, wild horses belonging to one former resident would be seen grazing in a field near Stony Pond.
Entering Entrance Island is like stepping into a world of contrasts. At one end is an idyllic lagoon with crystal-clear water and white sand, while the other boasts towering limestone cliffs and rainforest that creeps up the hillsides.
The island is an important nesting site for seabirds, and it’s also home to a variety of other animals such as macaques and tapirs. Whether you’re looking to explore its lush forests or take in the breathtaking views from the top of its cliffs, Entrance Island is a place where you can truly enjoy nature at its finest.
- What Are The Primary Languages Spoken On Entrance Island?
Portuguese and English.
- How Is Transportation Available To Get To Entrance Island?
By air: there is a small airport located on the island that provides scheduled flights from Maputo and Dar es Salaam, as well as charter flights from other parts of Mozambique and neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Swaziland. There are also daily flights by Air Zimbabwe and South African Airways.
- Is There An ATM Or Any Other Form Of Banking Facilities On Entrance Island?
No, however residents have access to the Standard Chartered Bank at Maputo and can open bank accounts opened within their country. They also use only Landline telephones (there are no mobile networks) with a local call cost subvention scheme offered by Movitel Mozambique Limited.
- Is Time Relayed In Entrance Island?
Yes, a local time zone called GMT + 02:00 standard is highly recommended. There are two main sources of electricity during the day – The first source being constant current supplied by Hydro Power Plant (HPP) at Serra dos Macacos and the other from Diesel generator set (TDG).
- Are There Emergency Services Available For Visitors To Entrance Island?
There are no public medical service on Entrance Island, however the Portuguese Medical Commission (MEC) has an office with a doctor and nurses that operates from Monday to Friday 7:00 am to 5 pm. Medicines can be bought at Maputo or at local stores.