Mozambique is undoubtedly one for the bucket list. This beautiful country on the south eastern coast of the African continent is an outstanding holiday destination for divers and non-divers alike. Its idyllic sandy beaches, pristine blue waters and friendly, welcoming locals are just three of the many reasons to visit, and for diving enthusiasts there are countless more.
With over 2000 kilometres of coastline, scuba diving in Mozambique is an incredible experience, with plenty of unspoiled reefs hosting innumerable reef fish in an array of colours, shapes and sizes.
Mozambique is home to a number of Marine Protected Areas including the largest in Africa. The Primeiras and Segundas Marine Protected Area serves as an important nursery for a host of reef fish as well as 5 of the 7 species of sea turtles. The area is also rich with coral reefs and mangrove forests which form an important part of the history and environment. Nesting sea turtles are protected by the Maputo Protection area which covers Ponta de Ouro in the south right up to the Maputo River. The creation of these protected areas is a great development to defend these offshore reefs and ecosystems from over-fishing and damage in order to preserve the natural beauty of Mozambique for future generations of divers.
Mozambique is well-known for its sightings of the larger marine species that every diver wants to see: whale sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, sharks and dolphins. As if that wasn’t enough reason to get you packing your bags, the mystifying humpback whale is often spotted in Mozambique’s plankton-rich waters as it makes its way along the Mozambiquan Channel from the Antarctic.
Best Diving Destinations in Mozambique
Ponta do Ouro
Ponta do Ouro is a great diving destination located just 10 kilometres from South Africa. As such, it is hugely popular with South African divers and many will visit multiple times per year, crossing the Kosi Bay border and driving the short, sandy distance to the centre of the village by 4×4. Ponta do Ouro has grown massively over the last two decades and welcomes tourists from all over both countries as well as the world. Friendly locals, forests of green dunes, fresh seafood and a legendary drink known as a ‘Rum and Rasberry’ are all part of the draw to this great destination. Diving is superb in this area and most dive sites are easily reached via rubber diving boat, with exciting bay launches on either end of your dive.
Home to a myriad of juvenile reef fish, Doodles dive site is relatively close to the bay of Ponta do Ouro and is a site often visited by game fish, turtles, boxfish and dolphins. There are a number of resident potato bass at Doodles that can rather intimidating at lengths of up to 2 metres, but are actually very friendly and inquisitive.
Another site high in marine biodiversity is that of Checkers in Ponta do Ouro. Suitable for all levels at a maximum depth of only 18 metres, Checkers boasts unspoiled coral reef and sightings of batfish and frogfish.
Pinnacles is a deep dive that is immensely popular with advanced divers due to its large concentration of hammerhead sharks and Zambezi sharks. Hosting a large number of game fish, this site will give divers the chance to see kingfish, mackerel and barracuda swimming in the strong currents. Manta rays and large potato bass are also regular sightings to be added to the log book, whilst divers looking for smaller marine life will be pleased with colourful reef fish and elusive eels.
Tofo, Inhambane Peninsula
Inhambane is known as ‘land of the good people’ and is a location characterized by its laid back, friendly locals and unspoiled natural beauty. The underwater scene is just as beautiful and famed for manta ray, humpback whale and whale shark sightings. There is a plankton-rich corridor known as whale shark alley which attracts whale sharks at all times of the year. Divers visiting this current-fed corridor are essentially guaranteed to see whale sharks, an added bonus to a location filled with incredible experiences. Swimming with whale sharks is best done by an organized snorkelling trip rather than scuba diving and a host of friendly operators on the shore will be happy to arrange these trips for you. Tofo is also in the centre of the migration route for humpback whales and these magnificent mammals can be seen between June and October – just another reason to add Mozambique to the top of your diving bucket list.
Home to a number of manta cleaning stations, Manta Reef in Tofo is world-famous for being one of the best places to spot manta rays in their natural environment. The landscape of Manta Reef is an interesting one with plenty of caves to explore. Divers are often treated with sightings of laidback loggerhead turtles floating their way past the many pinnacles of Manta Reef.
With an interesting name comes an interesting dive site with plenty marine life to see. Mike’s Cupboard host a number of caves and ledges covered in soft corals where crocodile fish, lion fish and trumpet fish make their homes.
Mozambique is unique in that some of the areas are largely unexplored, making these mystifying, unspoiled dive sites even more magical. Serving as a nesting site for sea turtles, the long stretches of sandy beach on the surrounding 27 islands of this tropical paradise allow for ultimate relaxation after an exhilarating dive where you’re likely to see large game fish, rays and sharks.
Getting to Mozambique
Mozambique offers direct connections with many of South Africa’s airports and the capital city of Maputo from Inhambane Airport. Diving locations can also be reached via road, with transfers easily done from Maputo, the east coast of South Africa and Swaziland. To access the Quirimbas Archipelago in the north, visitors should fly into Pemba International Airport which offers connections with Maputo, Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
When to Visit Mozambique
It is possible to visit Mozambique at any time of the year as it is always ready to impress. In the south, water temperatures are around 23°C at the tail end of winter and will rise to 28°C in the height of summer. Water temperatures remain fairly constant at 26°C in the Quirimbas Archipelago and divers usually opt for no thicker than a 5mm wetsuit in these conditions. In fact, many divers will dive in a shorty or even without a wetsuit in the warm summer months.
Where to Stay in Mozambique
Ponta do Ouro offers a host of versatile, diverse dives for all levels. With a number of high quality dive operators in the area and sandy patches ideal for underwater skills training, Ponta do Ouro is very popular with beginner divers starting their scuba adventure. Local resorts offer self-catering and luxury tented camping options as well as log cabin accommodations, all with a unique Mozambique flair.
In Tofo, the friendly atmosphere extends right to the dive bar where divers can enjoy the view and local specialities while discussing the amazing underwater scenes witnessed earlier in the day.
For those interested in hands-on conservation efforts, Tofo offers superb opportunities for this, with organised eco tours with marine scientists where you’ll have the opportunity to learn about manta ray and whale shark conservation.