5 of the Best Beaches For Diving In Mozambique

Mozambique is a unique destination with much to offer. It’s fast becoming known as one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse places to go diving in the world. You’ll find some of the world’s best snorkelling and diving in Mozambique as well as its most stunning beaches.

While Mozambique is becoming a favourite of South African travellers, it remains relatively unknown to the rest of the world. It’s an interesting places because some of the best beach hotels in Mozambique are not giant international chain resorts, but amazing family-run guesthouses, smack bang on their own private beach. It’s somewhere you really need to visit before it gets too popular!

In this guide, we’ll aim to talk you through the best beaches in Mozambique, as well as the best diving and how you can get around. Stay tuned for our upcoming guide on where to stay!

This article may contain affiliate links, which means we may make a small commission if you use them to book something. This is at no additional cost to you, in fact many of the prices are discounted.

Table of Contents

A beach in Mozambique with palm trees, white sand and beautiful blue sky. The tide is really far out so there are small fishing boats stranded on the sand.
Beaches in Mozambique make the bus journeys worth it!

Know Before You Go

If you’re planning to be backpacking through Mozambique, check out our guide here! Otherwise here are the basics you should know before visiting:

  • Some basic Portuguese is a must for travelling in Mozambique. We’ve seen some online guides claim that you don’t really need Portuguese in Mozambique. We are not sure if maybe these people only stayed in tourist areas, but even if they did, that was absolutely not our experience at all. Yes, there will normally be some random person in the area who can help you with basic English translations but this is not something we would recommend relying on.
  • Mozambique is generally inexpensive but the tourist areas can be a bit pricey. This means many of the places in this guide do have elevated prices, but you can still get around on a budget.
  • The currency is Mozambique Metical. You can’t pay in other currency, except in very touristy areas, which might accept USD.
  • ATMs do not always work, and some will only work for visa, not Mastercard. It’s best to sort currency as soon as you arrive as some places do not accept card. We suggest asking your hotel to direct you to a working ATM or.

What you need to know before snorkelling or diving in Mozambique

Mozambique is still a developing country, which means a few things when it comes to diving and snorkelling. Firstly, their diving is really good because not many people have yet been there. The coral remains relatively unspoiled, the marine life is still very diverse, and the beaches are quite untouched.

It’s therefore super important to keep it that way. We’ll cover being a responsible tourist in Mozambique below, so you can make sure you keep your impact as low as possible. The great news is that there are some eco-friendly (and not just greenwashing!) dive centres cropping up now.

The price of the diving in Mozambique ranges depending on what you want to do and can go from $50 a day to $500 or more. Despite Mozambique being a cheap country, they do still use price relative to the rest of the world for snorkelling and diving.

With diving courses still being relatively new in Mozambique, something I would recommend sorting before you do anything else is a great insurance provider. We always use SafetyWing because we love their super clear wording, and it’s really easy (and inexpensive) to add on adventure sports cover, which protects you when snorkelling and scuba diving.

How to be a responsible traveller when snorkelling or diving in Mozambique

In order to protect the marine life and coral reefs of Mozambique, here are some things you can do as a tourist:

  1. Don’t step on the coral. Coral reefs are actually living organisms (closely related to jellyfish) and stepping on them usually kills them. Try to avoid putting your feet down and if you’re snorkelling and not a confident swimmer, wear a floatation device.
  2. Never touch marine animals. Not only does it frighten them, they also have protective oils on their skin, which human interaction can remove. You can make them sick by doing this.
  3. Wear sunscreen that doesn’t have any of the chemicals listed on savethereef.org. Remember that the term ‘reef-safe’ is actually not protected, which means anyone can use it, even sunscreen providers which are not actually reef-safe at all! The best way to be sure you’re keeping reefs safe is to avoid the chemicals on Save the Reef and minimise all sunscreen where possible (wear protective clothing instead if you can).
A beach in Mozambique. The tide is really far out so there are small fishing boats stranded on the sand.
Vilanculos Beach

When to go diving in Mozambique

The high season for diving is May-October, when you have a chance to see whale sharks, rays and lots of other amazing marine life. Mozambique also has a high season in December and January, when it has great weather and there is still a chance to spot marine life. We actually saw a dugong at this time! Basically, you can go most times of year and you should have a good chance of seeing something.

In August, you can often spot whales of the coast, particularly around Tofo/Inhambane area.

So where should you go? Let’s get to it!

Best beaches for snorkelling and diving in Mozambique

There are some truly stunning beaches in Mozambique, and of course we could not visit all of them. We have listed the best we found and given our honest review of each. The snorkelling and diving at each one was actually really amazing. These are in reverse order of from our least favourite (though it’s still nice!) to our favourite.

5. Xai-Xai

Though we wouldn’t consider Xai Xai the best snorkelling and diving in Mozambique, it is good. It’s also one of the easiest beach towns to reach from Maputo. It has a nice reef with great marine life, and a bustling town centre to go with it.

Since Xai Xai is a busy city centre, it’s really important to make sure you follow the responsible tourism guidelines we mentioned above! The reef itself is quite long so you should find plenty of marine life. What it really has in its favour is easy swimming (the current is not strong) and a lively centre with lots of markets and things going on.

To be honest, Xai Xai is not great for diving, though the snorkelling is good. This is why we have listed it at number 5.

Sealife you might encounter: turtles, clown fish, manta rays, stingrays, octopuses and lots more.

Find places to stay in Xai Xai below:

4. Praia do Tofo

Tofo beach is beautiful. However, the main pros of Tofo are that it’s a great hub for backpackers and other tourists. This means that you definitely won’t be lonely and there are plenty of things going on. It’s also really close to Inhambane and Maxixe, which are bigger cities. They both have lots of useful resources, such as hospitals, restaurants, ATMs, banks and supermarkets.

Tofo is a smaller beach town, so it doesn’t have all of these things. The diving in Tofo is really nice, and there are lots of options for tours. For the diving, we would suggest booking with Liquid Dive Adventures, who are a sustainable dive centre.

Sealife you might encounter: manta rays, whale sharks, stingrays, octopuses, humpback whales if you’re lucky, and lots more.

The dive sites in Tofo are mainly blue water drops in the middle of the ocean.

Check accommodation in Tofo below:

Murray is walking down a sandy path flanked with palm trees. He is carrying a purple umbrella like a parasol.
‘Roads’ around Gunjata and Paindane

3. Gunjata and Paindane

Gunjata and Paindane are two beach resorts on the East Coast of the Inhambane peninsula and they both have incredible snorkelling and diving. They’re probably two of the most underrated places for diving in the area. What’s even better is that because basically no one knows about them, they’re basically deserted. On the downside, they’re both quite hard to get to.

We’ll cover how to get there below, but you do need your own vehicle, and probably some off-road experience. Paindane in particular has a lovely reef, which is often very clear. Gunjata has a nice expat community, as does Paindane, and you can find out what is going on from their Facebook community. Gunjata also have their own dive centre, or you can content yourself with snorkelling and you should see plenty!

Sealife you might encounter: all kinds of colourful reef fish, octopus, manta rays and even dugongs if you’re lucky.

The dive sites in Gunjata and Paindane are mainly reef dives near the resorts.

Look for accommodation in Gunjata and Paindane below.

2. Vilanculos

Vilanculos beach was one of the best beaches in Mozambique. We would also rank Vilanculos as one of the best places to go diving in Mozambique as well, based on what we saw. They have a lot of places to stay that offer diving courses, and also have a great backpacking community, so they are well-used to catering to new and experienced divers alike.

You can also see lots of different kinds of marine life in Vilanculos and we highly recommend to try the seahorse snorkelling tour (which can be booked through Baobab Beach Resort). The project is a women-led sustainable initiatives that protects seahorses in the area through tourism. Sightings are not guaranteed of course as it is an ethical tour, but thee guides are experts at spotting them. We saw a lot and it was a lovely day out with lunch as well.

The best place to stay and help you organise any snorkelling or diving tours you might want to do is, without doubt, Baobab Beach Vilanculos, which you can book here.

Check prices below:

Sealife you might encounter: turtles, octopus, manta rays, parrot fish and even dugongs if you’re lucky.

A vast expanse of beach dunes with the sea in the distance

1. Bazaruto Archipelago

Bazaruto is without a doubt the best place we found for snorkelling and diving in Mozambique. The archipelago is a paradise of stunning white sand dunes and gorgeous beaches, as well as famous 2 mile reef. This reef is spectacular and contains some of the most diverse and incredible marine life on the planet. Even while snorkelling, we were able to see rays, sharks and even a dugong. It was easily the best snorkelling we have ever done.

There are also some amazing dive centres in Vilanculos that take you out to the waters around the Bazaruto Archipelago, such as Dive Bazaruto.

Sealife you might encounter: turtles, octopus, manta rays, parrot fish, nurse sharks and even dugongs if you’re lucky.

The dive sites in Bazaruto and Vilanculos are reef dives.

Find accommodation in Bazaruto below:

Backpacking in Mozambique

We actually backpacked our way around Mozambique and feel for this type of post it’s important to share a bit about that experience. Diving is, of course, really popular with backpackers and we know many people would choose to get between the beaches in Mozambique via public transport.

In the areas we have listed above, there are plenty of options for backpacking accommodation, though we will come to this in a different post.

Public transport in Mozambique

For some quick information, there are two types of public bus in Mozambique; large, coach-style buses (‘big buses’) or chapas. Chapas are taxi buses, basically 12 seater toyota hiaces. The drivers will try and fit in a lot of people and they’re generally not the most comfortable.

We found travelling around Mozambique via public bus quite the struggle. Information online was hard to find and not comprehensive, which was why we created our guides. We came first from South Africa to Maputo and then Maputo to Tofo area (for further advice on this journey check this blog post) and then up to Vilanculos. We’ll cover how to get between the beach resorts we mentioned below.

Travelling from Tofo to Vilanculos

Quick info
  • Take ferry from Tofo to Maxixe, which is very easy – info in this blog post
  • 1pm departure from bus station on opposite side of the road from KFC in Maxixe – bus company is CityLink.
  • Arrive 30 minutes beforehand to the bus terminal in case bus departs early
  • You need to book tickets the day before in person at the bus terminal with CityLink
  • There is no option to depart from Inhambane – some online info says there is, this is currently incorrect. There is a bus terminal in Inhambane but no buses go to Vilanculos

There is also a 2pm departure with Nagi from the same spot – if CityLink is not available, you can try booking tickets with Nagi when they arrive if they have spaces. You need to prebook tickets the day before. You can go the day before by ferry – the ferry is so short you don’t even need to stay in Maxixxe if you don’t want to.

We didn’t know any of this, so we went over to Maxixe from Tofo early on the morning we wanted to depart. As with every other journey, information online was limited at best. There were various conflicting reports about bus departure times. A few seemed to agree that the bus went at 10:30, so we had arrived in Maxixe around 7am. This information is incorrect of course, go with the above quick info instead.

We went early in the hope of scoring a bus ticket, but it wasn’t to be, so we ended up taking a dreaded chapa. It actually turned out to be fine, albeit a bit hot and stuffy. The trip was supposed to be 4 hours but it ended up being 6 with all of the stops, so make sure you go to the toilet in Maxixe before you leave and grab snacks if you do this.

There is a petrol station, a KFC and a couple of other restaurants in Maxixe, so you should find something.

Emma and Murray are sitting on a minibus surrounded by people. They are taking a selfie and look tired but happy.
Finally on board the chapa!

Getting from Tofo to Gunjata and Paindane

To get from Inhambane or Tofo to Gunjata or Paindane, you really need your own car. The taxis in Tofo and Inhambane are too small to drive down the roads to Gunjata (which are essentially just sand). You need a four wheel drive and ideally some experience driving on sand. If you do not have this, we highly advise speaking with your hotel and asking them to arrange a transfer for you.

There is also no means of getting there via public transport.

Getting from Vilanculos to Bazaruto

We actually took a tour for this one with Baobab beach, as we weren’t sure how to get there ourselves. To be honest, we didn’t love the tour, as they weren’t very well organised, and it was expensive. With hindsight, we’d speak to some people in town first and see if they had suggestions or advice for getting there. If not then we would book a tour in town.

A lot of the other tours we saw seemed to be well-organised, allowing the tourists time to snorkel with the fish. They also had a good set up for lunch (with a temporary gazebo), which our tour did not have. The tour from Baobab (unlike the seahorse snorkelling tour we booked with them) just wasn’t the best. If you book a diving tour to Bazaruto, they will also take you out via private transport.

Looking for another bus journey in Mozambique?

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    Written by Emma

    Emma

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