We aren’t exaggerating when we say Africa is one of the most diverse continents in the world. And in saying this, we’re not just referring to the 3000 ethnic groups, 1500+ languages and the fact that Africa is home to the most genetically diverse people on the planet. We are also referring to the immense geological diversity. From grasslands to desert plains, forests, delta’s, mountainous terrain and archipelago’s.
Just when you thought Africa could never possibly compete with the world’s most beautiful beaches, you may want to think again after hearing what Mozambique has to offer. If you’re looking for the ultimate beach getaway, without excluding all things African such as safari tours, cultural encounters and adventure activities then Mozambique is the place for you.
On the southeast coast of Africa and extending from South Africa all the way up to Tanzania, Mozambique manages to cover every bit of Africa’s much-loved gems. Its size is surprising – almost four times that of the UK. So it’s best to build your travel itinerary around either the north or the south. If it’s your first time to Mozambique, you may want to take a look at our top travel tips.
11 Kilometres off the coast of Mozambique you’ll find the famous and exquisitely beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago. It’s made up of five pristine islands with unspoiled white sand beaches, healthy coral reefs and marine parks. A one hour speed boat will get you to Bazaruto, while a Dhow sailboat will get you around the Archipelago.
Bazaruto is the largest of the islands and known for its great population of turtles and endangered dugongs. The islands’s Two Mile Reef is popular for its crystal clear sea, with a burst of colour and life beneath its waters. Snorkelling and scuba diving is a must when visiting this island and the rest of the Archipelago as you’re sure to see rare, exotic marine life. So of which include reef sharks, moray eels and many more. Bazaruto is also one of the most popular islands to visit in the region, due to its incredible sand dunes.
Benguerra is the second largest island and the second most popular to visit. Here you’ll be in awe of the diverse tropical terrain including forests, wetlands and grasslands along with breathtaking marine life and perfect beaches. Benguerra is a bird-lovers paradise with hundreds of tropical bird species living in its forests. You can also expect to see flamingos, fish eagles and many other bird species throughout your tour of the Archipelago. If you’re lucky you’ll see dolphins dancing through the calm, clear waters. Manta rays whisk along the sea bed and whale sharks swim merrily about in this tropical paradise.
This capital city will likely be your first stop before you go on to explore the rest of the majestic east African destination. Maputo is one of the cleanest, most hospitable capitals in Africa and there is surprisingly plenty to do.
In the capital’s most popular town, Baixa, you’ll be welcomed with the sights and smells of Jacaranda trees which dot the sidewalks. Some may be overwhelmed by how built up and ‘cosmopolitan’ the city feels. With skyscrapers, world class hotels and trendy apartments scattered along the shoreline of Maputo Bay. Here you will enjoy portuguese styled cafés on almost every corner; it’s hard to believe you’re in Africa!
Maputo wildlife tours and city activities
The Maputo Elephant Reserve, also known as Maputo Special reserve, is an absolute must if you’re eager to experience both bush and beach during your trip through Mozambique. You won’t just encounter herds of elephant, but also hippo, crocodile, vervet monkeys, zebra and reedbuck.
Plan a visit to an extension of South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park, entering through the border of Mozambique and South Africa. As part of the Peace Parks Project, the fence has been removed for visitors from Mozambique to enjoy safari tours. The Kruger National Park is the most visited wildlife park in South Africa and is home to the big five.
Visit the National Museum of Art which showcases impressive collections by contemporary Mozambican artists. Or head to the Mercado Municipal which is great for a morning stroll before it gets too busy. This market practically overflows with fresh tropical fruits and spices, and is perfect for picking up a few healthy snacks before hitting the beach.
We’d highly recommend you take a walk along the Avenida Marginal, a gorgeous seaside promenade that looks a little like old-school Miami. Stop for lunch or sundowners before sunset at one of the many enchanting restaurants which serve up delicious seafood along with pretty much anything your heart desires.
Inhambane is the second largest city in southern Mozambique, after Maputo. While it is close to 7 hours drive from the capital. This energetic, adventure filled locale, riddled with top class beaches, boasts a bustling city center filled with restaurants, bars and tourists aplenty. It makes for the perfect stopover when travelling north from Maputo, or from northern Mozambique down to the south.
For those who appreciate stunning architecture, deep history and the great outdoors, Inhambane is a must-visit. The city is vibrant and energetic, with almost every cafe bursting at the seams with locals and tourists alike.
Take a walk through this small city and marvel at the stunning Portuguese styled buildings dating back hundreds of years.
Go for drinks along the harbour and watch the dhow sailboats make their way in and out of the port.
Take a scuba diving and snorkelling trip at one of the many incredible beaches such as Tofo and Barra.
Enjoy the many water activities such as fishing and boat cruises
Go horse riding on the beach.
Enjoy the many quad biking trails.
Marvel at the sight of the whales during whale season.
See African Overland Tours’ Mozambique adventure tours.
The best beaches in the south of Mozambique
Xai Xai Beach
Although a little further from Maputo, Xai Xai Beach is the perfect spot to visit on your way further north. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in southern Mozambique. It’s a long stretch of shoreline offering white sand, clear water and peace and quiet. This beach was once the favored beach to soak up the sun and frolic in the waves during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Still to this day, 26 years post war, Xai Xai beach is quiet making it the ideal place to kick back and relax before the tourists hear of its comeback.
This idyllic beach in the small beach town of Tofo is around 17km east of Inhambane. It’s another hidden gem away from the crowds and is possibly one of Mozambique’s best kept secrets. Explore the many lagoons with warm waters.
The Quirimbas Archipelago found in northern Mozambique is made up of four main islands namely Ibo, Medjumbe, Vamizi and Matemo, with three smaller, uninhabited islands nearby, known as Rolas Island, Metundo and Quisiva. These coral islands stretch over 250 km with dolphins and whales known to pay visits to the surrounding waters. Here the highly endangered dugongs are known to populate the lands.
Ibo is popular for its many mangroves as well as its famous colonial-era ruins and forts dating back to the period of Portuguese rule. The secluded islands of Matemo, Medjumbe and Vamizi are ideal for diving and snorkelling. Ideal for anyone who wants to feel like they’re the only person left on earth! The deserted beaches are not only breathtaking, but incredibly tranquil too.
The city of Pemba is northern Mozambique’s most popular city to visit and is also the point of access into Quirimbas Archipelago. Also the gateway to the stunning wildlife park, Niassa National Reserve. This city is a lot more laid back than those found in the south, and it feels like a true holiday destination. There are a lot more tourists in Pemba, especially since many tourism initiatives have been introduced in the last few years.
The best beaches in the north
The beautiful Nacala Beach is dreamy indeed. When you’re not admiring the sealife beneath the waves, explore the fascinating shipwrecks and take long walks on the beaches surrounded by mangroves and tropical bush.
Just a few kilometres from Pemba, is Wimbi beach. This is not just a beach, in fact, it’s a small seaside town known for its luxury accommodation. Wimbi beach itself, is a 12km stretch of shoreline boasting pristine clear waters.
Wildlife of Gorongosa National Park
For an authentic African experience, take a Mozambique wildlife safari tour through Gorongosa National Park. Here you’ll catch sight of lions, elephants, hippos, buffalos and rhinos. The landscape makes for an incredible journey, as you encounter wild species and tropical birdlife amidst bright green floodplains, golden savannah grasslands, and forests of fever trees.
Niassa Wildlife Reserve
Mozambique’s Niassa Wildlife Reserve is larger than South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and is one of the largest conservation areas on the continent. The reserve is slowly becoming one of Southern Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves since it’s abandonment during the war. With thick bush and open plains with a plethora of wildlife and bird species, it certainly is an adventure worth taking – yet another incredible place to add to your Mozambican memories.