Mozambique, located in Southern Africa, has more than 1500 miles of magnificent coastline, with iconic coconut palms swaying in the breeze and pristine, soft, white sand beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, all beckoning beach lovers into the warm azure waters of the Indian Ocean.
Those seeking a more secluded beach holiday can choose from one of the country’s string of island pearls, offering a more private and remote experience, for the ultimate beach escape. The two main archipelagos are Bazaruto and Quirimbas – the largest protected marine area in Africa- both with superb accommodations, a wide range of activities and stunning landscapes.
Although Mozambique has some of the best beaches in the world, there is much more to this country than sand, sun, and sea. Gorongosa National Park was once one of the most popular in Africa because of its incredible biodiversity of flora and fauna. Although much of its wildlife was decimated during years of conflict Mozambique, it is now on the rebound, once again becoming home to elephants, lions, leopards, cheetah, hippopotamus, antelopes, tortoises, monkeys and nearly 400 species of birds. Visitors today can witness its remarkable rebirth.
Urban explorers can head for the two main cities, Inhambane and Maputo, the capitol, for an exotic mix of European, Arab and Indian cultures, evident in the local art, music, cuisine and architecture. The country also has a fascinating history to explore on the coast and islands.
Regions of Mozambique
Resting in the warm, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, just a few miles off the coast of Mozambique, is a string of small, idyllic islands, The Bazaruto Archipelago, with exquisitely beautiful and pristine beaches – some of Africa’s best. The entire archipelago was recently protected – Mozambique’s only underwater National Park – and is rapidly becoming a prime destination for discerning, eco-conscious travelers, with many accommodations and facilities built for sustainable tourism and conservation.
Bazaruto Island is the largest in the group, with sublime, unspoiled beaches, a beautiful bay, spectacular sand dunes, and a variety of habitats…
– mangrove swamps, savannah grassland, evergreen forests and freshwater lakes- home to a great diversity of wildlife and birdlife. The island is surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colorful, pristine corals reefs, teeming with an array of exotic marine life, including 2000 fish species as well as manta rays, whale sharks, schools of dolphins and loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. It is also home to about 200 dugongs, Africa’s last sustainable population of these rare mammals. With a wealth of underwater “wildlife”, crystal-clear visibility, and warm waters, this is considered to be one of the best diving sites in the world, including the spectacular Two Mile Reef.
There are lovely hotels and lodges as well as high-end sublime resorts offering “barefoot luxury”, eco-friendly experiences, and a wide variety of activities, including diving, snorkeling, parasailing, sport fishing, sailing on a traditional dhow, water skiing, wake boarding, kayaking, wind-surfing, horseback riding, tennis, dune-boarding….or simply just relaxing, sipping a cocktail, and watching the magnificent glow as the sun sets over this lovely string of African pearls.
Vilanculos is a small but vibrant town on the southern coast of Mozambique. It is the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, a string of idyllic and magnificent islands which visitors flock to, by boat or plane, after arriving at the international airport. For those who take the time to explore, Vilanculos is actually its own piece of paradise, offering those staying on the mainland lovely, palm-fringed beaches surrounded by the warm, turquoise, crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean. It’s just a bit busier, and more developed here, but many see that as an advantage, with its restaurants, bars, markets, lively nightlife and a wide choice of things to see and do. There is a nice range of accommodations for all budgets, from camping and self-catering options, to opulent luxury…
Activities include snorkeling, boating, diving, kite surfing, horseback riding, some of the best marlin fishing in the world, dhow (traditional) sailing, motorboat trips as well as the thrill of swimming with dolphins or sea turtles.
Inhambane is a charming seaside town overlooking a bay, with lovely tree-lined avenues and a harbor for sipping drinks and watching the dhows (traditional sailing ships) go by. Some consider it to be one of the loveliest towns in Mozambique. As one of the oldest settlements on the coast, it also has a fascinating history, reflected today in the architecture and culture – a mixture of Arabic, Indian and African influences- that stretches back to the 11th century. Its ambience is very laid-back, but it has all the necessary banks, markets, restaurants, and an international airport.
Although it is surrounded by its own magnificent beaches with swaying coconut palms, Inhambane is often used as a launching base for visitors heading to resorts and beaches nearby – especially Barra, Tofo and Guinjata Bay. Leaving the city behind, they offer pristine beaches, superb diving, surfing, fishing, snorkeling, watersports, and an abundance of marine life, including manta rays, whale sharks, and the rare “sea cows” or dugongs.
Once the “Riviera of Southern Africa”, Maputo is one of Africa’s most attractive capitals, with its lovely art décor architecture, beautiful waterside setting on a hill overlooking Maputo Bay, and wide avenues lined with jacaranda and flame trees. The city suffered during Mozambique’s civil war, but it is now bouncing back, becoming a vibrant and popular urban center once again. It offers a wide selection of hotels and restaurants for different budgets, as well as supermarkets, sidewalk cafes and a lively nightlife, with a variety of bars and discos. Visitors can also explore its rich cultural heritage – an exotic African-Portuguese mix- found in the city’s historical sites, museums, markets, local customs and cuisine.
Pemba is a beautiful ancient port city in Mozambique, with a stunning landscape, located on a beautiful bay surrounded by forests of baobab trees. It has all the necessary modern amenities – airport, shops, banks, cafes, restaurants, bars and a casino – as well as an interesting older section where “time seems to have stood still”. This is a fascinating area to explore, an exotic mix of lovely Portuguese colonial architecture with traditional homes and markets, the perfect way to experience the local culture – kids playing football, fishermen bringing in their daily catch, women selling fruit and freshly baked bread – and get a taste of its delicious cuisine – an exotic mix of Mozambique and Portuguese flavors.
Pemba is often used as a stopover on the way to the magnificent Quirimbas Islands, but it is also a beach destination on its own right, with diving just off shore on a nearby coral reef, various watersports, snorkeling, fishing and kayaking. Unlike many of the small islands in the Quirimbas, which can be quite expensive to get to and to stay on, Pemba caters to both luxury and budget travelers.
Because of its great abundance and diversity of wildlife, Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique was once called “the place where Noah left his Ark” …and then let his cargo loose. Before the country’s civil war, there were huge herds of elephants and buffalo, large prides of lion, thousands of hippos, as well as waterbuck, impala, too, sable, kudu, hartebeest, eland, and a remarkable 500 species of birds. It was considered among Africa’s premier game preserves, a popular safari destination for movie stars until, unfortunately, the park suffered greatly from years of poaching, which decimated the wildlife population.
Today, thanks to the reintroduction of wildlife and other conservation projects, Gorongosa is slowly making a comeback. Its lush floodplains, savannah, woodlands, and forests of fever trees can support a large wildlife population once again, if it is left in peace to hopefully, someday soon, return to its former glory. Although it is not often included in itineraries, adventurous travelers will see a magnificent landscape, as well as elephants, buffalo, lions, crocodiles, zebra and many other species.