Dive destinations in Southern Mozambique

Dive destinations in Southern Mozambique

Mozambique borders South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania- offering you plenty opportunity to travel throughout Southern Africa. Because the country has such a long coastline (2,300 km to be precise) dive sites are plenty, with every site offering a unique diving experience.

Amazing diving can be found along the entire coast of Mozambique. Some areas like Ponta Malongane/Ponta Do Ouro are popular dive locations with crowds flocking from South Africa (especially during South African school holidays). In other areas like Pomene and the Bazaruto Archipelago you could find yourself alone on the reefs.

The Southern African waters offer world-class diving with ample marine life. Micro and macro life is still abundant in the area making it one of the best places in the world for an all-in-one diving experience.

Tourism in Mozambique is still a growing industry which makes it a bit more difficult to get around compared to places like Thailand and Indonesia. While local chappa’s and busses travel along the coast daily, they are not always the most reliable and safest forms of transport. There are major bus companies and privately owned shuttles that make trips from South Africa along the major highway leading North into Mozambique. You can take a private taxi that will pick you up at the airport and drop you off at your hotel or lodge, and for those who like to make their own way cars can be rented in Maputo or South Africa for a self-drive adventure through Mozambique.

Although the EN1 highway that runs through Mozambique is tar road, a 4×4 or at the very least a 4×2 is recommended for the roads leading off the highway to the coast. Many of these roads are dirt roads, some with soft beach sand – all adding to your Mozambican adventure! Speed limits in Mozambique is 100km/h outside of towns with 80/60 km/h in towns. Speed limits are strictly monitored with fines readily given for transgressions so take caution. Allow a couple of ours more to your travel time than you think as everything in Mozambique is very much on African time.

Many dive destinations can be reached by flying to a nearby airport and then either taking a taxi of have an airport pick up from your hotel or lodge. As with the roads, flights and airports also work on African time so be prepared that your journey might take longer than you planned.

Mozambique is a malaria area so make sure you take precaution with anti-malaria medication, mozzie nets and spray.

Rainy season is usually between December and March and it can get quite humid during this period. During June to October the weather is pleasant with June to August being the coolest months. Winter in Mozambique is still warm with temperatures during the day in the high 20’s even reaching up to 30°C.

Inhaca Island

Where is it: You can reach Inhaca Island via boat or plane from Maputo – the capital of Mozambique.

What makes it special: There is a vast diversity in marine life with over 150 different types of healthy coral and large schools of barracuda and kingfish. Dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays are often seen in the summer months and humpback whales often hang around between September and November.

Inhaca Island and its surroundings also have a number of dive able wrecks with some shallow enough to snorkel at. Reefs average around 18 meters with some going down to 30 meters, offering plentiful good diving to all levels of certification.

Water temperature: 22-27 °C

Depth: 10-35 meters

Visibility: 10-30 meters

Tofo and Barra

Where is it: Tofo and Barra are located in the Inhambane province, about 500km North of Maputo. There is an airport in Inhambane with some international flights.

What makes it special: The area has 3 manta cleaning stations with lots of gullies, overhangs and ledges covered in hard and soft coral. For advanced divers there are deep drift dives along the walls and drop offs and there is even a site with an old anchor resting in the sand. You are likely to see whale sharks, shoals of game fish, seagrass ghost pipe fish, leaf fish, green turtles and a variety of sharks.

Mantas, whale sharks and whales can be seen in season and a trip to the lagoon will surprise you with its seahorse population. This is also one of the few places where Dugong could be spotted.

Water temperature: 24-29 °C

Depth: 18-40 meters

Visibility: 10-30 meters

Bazaruto Archipelago World Heritage site and national park

Where is it: This string of islands is located just off the coast of Mozambique, between Africa and Madagascar and is likened to the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the Indian Ocean, spanning 1400km². You can fly from Maputo to Bazaruto Island Airport.

What makes it special: You might be lucky enough to see dugong, humpback whales, a variety of shark species and lots of hard and soft coral. There are also giant lobsters, green turtles and an abundance of rays and game fish.

Water temperature: 24-29 °C

Depth: 18-40 meters

Visibility: 10-30 meters

Vilanculos Archipelago

Where is it: Vilanculos is about 700km North of Maputo. You can either drive up or fly from Maputo to Vilanculos airport.

What makes it special: Here you could also see dugongs as well as rays, turtles and game fish. There are whales, whale sharks and sharks ranging from Silvertips to hammer heads and even Zambezi sharks in the area. The typography varies with sites where the coral look like fairy castles and fossilised trees coming up from the ocean floor. There are dive sites ranging from calm, shallow and relaxed for beginners to sites with strong currents where more experienced divers can enjoy drift diving.

Water temperature: 24-29 °C

Depth: 6-44 meters

Visibility: 10-30 meters

Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane

Where is it: Located just a few kilometres from the South African border at Kosi bay. You can reach Ponta either driving up through South Africa or via Maputo. Ponto Do Ouro also has its own airport.   

What makes it special: Whale sharks, dolphins, barracuda, reef sharks and eagle rays are abundant here. You could spot a large diversity of tropical fish, frog fish, paper fish, nudi’s and schools of red fang trigger fish. There has also been Zambezi and hammerhead sightings.

Dive sites offer the best of both worlds to provide ample, amazing diving for beginners and more experienced divers alike.

Water temperature: 22-26 °C

Depth: 10-40m

Visibility: 10-30 meters

Ponta Mamoli

Where is it: Ponta Mamoli is more secluded than Do Ouro and Malongane and is located 100 km South of Maputo and 25 Km from the Kosi Bay border. You can reach Ponta Mamoli by driving from either South Africa or Maputo or flying to Ponta Do Ouro and then driving to Ponta Mamoli.

What makes it special: There is a diverse population of gobies, blennies, wrasse, nudi’s and hermit crabs. There is a cave filled with glass and lion fish and a chance to see leopard shark and harlequin shrimp. Large white cowries are scattered about with many cleaning stations.

Water temperature: 22-26 °C

Depth: 9-40m

Visibility: 10-30 meters

Pomene and Morrungulo

Where is it: Pomene is located between Vilanculos and Maxixe and about 3 hours from the nearest main road. You can drive to Pomene from Maputo or fly to Inhambane and then drive or take a taxi or airport pick up.

What makes it special: Manta encounters are likely on nearly every reef. There are many cleaning stations and caves and swim-throughs. You could also see sailfish, marlin and wahoo as well as devil and eagle rays. There is a hand-shaped rock formation and a cave where bull shark are often found and fossilised stoned bed gullies to explore. Interesting typography and hammerheads make dives on this continental shelf extra special.

Water temperature: 24-29 °C

Depth: 10-32m

Visibility: 10-30 meters


Where is it: Zavora is located about 400 km North of Maputo. It can be reached either from driving up from Maputo or flying to Inhambane and then driving South to Zavora. Zavora truly is one of the undiscovered gems of Mozambique.

What makes it special: Zavora has two wrecks – Klipfontein for tech divers and the Rio Sainos that is great for advanced divers. You are likely to see schools of batfish, sharks, turtles and eels. Frog fish and paper fish can be spotted with mantas at the cleaning station. In season (June-November) many whales can be found.

Water temperature: 24-29 °C

Depth: 12-40m

Visibility: 10-30 meters

* A version of this article first appeared at www.scubadiverlife.com

Juanita Pienaar

Juanita Pienaar is a citizen of the world, recently settled back down in her home country, South Africa, after spending time traveling and living in Asia and Africa. She has a passionate love affair with the ocean and loves to share that passion by teaching scuba diving. She is a yoga teacher and fully believe in finding the balance in life. She has recently discovered the joy and freedom of wearing yoga pants ‘out-and-about’. Juanita loses herself in the written and spoken word.

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