Having visited Mozambique for the first time 8 years ago, I was very excited be going back to further explore the country's incredible coastline and underwater world. Following my trip in October, I am delighted to say that it did not disappoint and there were several highlights that I would recommend in a heartbeat. Here is a roundup of my top picks from the trip.
Starting in the south, just 9 hours drive north of Maputo, Tofo Beach was my first stop and has changed very little since my first visit back in 2008. The wild, sweeping beaches are as beautiful as ever and Baia Sonambula would be my top recommendation for accommodation. Baia Sonambula is just set back from the beach so it feels like your own private haven away from the public beach (although it is hardly busy!) and has spectacular views down the beach. It has only 6 rooms so perfect for those wanting somewhere more quiet and it oozes charm. The breakfasts were a particular favourite of mine taking place on the main wooden decking with lots of delicious homemade jams to choose from and a telescope at the ready should you be visiting during the humpback season (June to September).
Diving at Tofo Beach
This French-inspired guesthouse is only a 5 minute walk from Diversity Scuba who will help you explore the reefs of Tofo and naturally, this is one of the main reasons to head to Tofo. Diving here is not for the faint-hearted, since launching from the beach is an adventure in itself, but once out there it does not disappoint. Mantas can be seen all year round as well as whale sharks with peak sightings being in April/May. It is true to say that sightings of both these creatures are not as common as they were back in 2008 but for those seeking big fish, it is well worth a visit.
Driving 3 hours north of Tofo takes you to the Bazaruto archipelago which is up there with one of the most beautiful beach destinations I have ever visited. In stark contrast to the wild beaches and huge surf further south, the Bazaruto is home to white sandy tidal plains and bright turquoise waters with the most staggering views from above. The area is a National Marine Park and has some truly stunning hotels. For families, Anantara Bazaruto is a wonderful option with beautiful villas right on the beach and plenty to keep the whole family happy. For those wanting even more seclusion and luxury, I was completely blown away by the first of Azura's properties in Mozambique: Azura Benguerra. From the moment I set foot in the resort I knew that the owners were focused on the little details, and coming from 'Life is in the Detail' Original Travel, you can see why it is the perfect match. If there is one thing you do at Azura Benguerra (aside from diving Two Mile Reef of course), the Island Hopping experience must not be missed. The trip begins with a climb up the sand dunes of Bazaruto Island where your breath will be taken away by the incredible colours of the landscape in front of you: pinks, whites, turquoise, and emeralds. You then head to Pansy Island for Pansy shells and flamingos, followed by a snorkel on the Two Mile reef at the 'Aquarium', finally finishing on a deserted beach where the most remarkable 'picnic' will be set up for you. It really doesn't get much better than this.
Nuarro Lodge is somewhere that has always caught my attention and although it is not the easiest to get to, I am really glad I made the journey on this trip. The lodge is very much eco (in the true sense of the word, rather than just style) generating its own electricity and clean water using renewable energy and it has given a huge amount back to the local community. Made of up just 10 chalets spread out along the pristine white sandy beach, the accommodation is simple yet extremely comfortable and you really feel like you are in Africa. A long distance further north from Vilanculos, the landscape changes quite dramatically here and one of the major differences is the presence of beautiful baobab trees. The team are very special at Nuarro and Jon and Yara who run the dive centre will make sure you have the most wonderful time diving these waters. The diving here is all about beautiful corals, smaller critters and calm, leisurely diving so for those wanting a more relaxed diving experience, totally off the beaten track then this is for you. Also on offer is tec diving with Jon and fluoro diving (using UV lights), plus Yara is doing a PDF on nudibranchs so for macro lovers this is a real bonus! Diving aside, there is much to explore in the local area from climbing the old lighthouse to mountain biking to kayaking. Watching three humpback whales simultaneously breaching in the bay from the beach bar has got to be one of my highlights of this trip!
Last, and certainly not least, my final stop was the Quirimbas archipelago which is our most northern destinations in Mozambique. This is home to Azura's second property; Azura at Quilalea, which is a private island resort located around 20 minutes from the airport by helicopter which is a spectacular experience in itself. If the weather is right, the pilot will fly low and explain the different environments that you will fly over. Quilalea is a very special resort and a little more rustic than Azura Benguerra, it is perfect for those that love wildlife, privacy and some great diving. With only 9 rooms on the island, this was the most exclusive of properties that I visited and if the budget stretches to it, there is no question that choosing Villa Quilalea as your room category will transform your experience. The diving here is exceptionally run by Tristan, along with the General Managers Leon and Claudia who are passionate divers and underwater photographers themselves. Tristan has been in the Quirimbas for some time and is there to make sure you get the most out of your diving experience on the island. One of the major draws to Quilalea is the house reef accessed directly from the shore, great for both divers and snorkelers alike. There are also some spectacular drift dives with beautiful soft corrals, big fish and excellent marine life, making the Quirmibas one of our top picks when it comes to the diving.
Perfect Beach Flop
Mozambique is a spectacular country and whilst logistics can be complicated (unless you have the help of Original Diving!), it is the perfect beach flop at the end of a safari or a shorter trip from the UK to get in some diving. Being only 2 hours ahead of the UK, it is even more perfect with no jet lag to battle with. What is not to love!