Mozambique: Africa’s Most Beautiful Coastline
The North and the Island
The journey can begin with the less obvious: on southern Mozambique we find the most famous attractions, but northern Mozambique is home to beaches, islands and landscapes that have been left largely untouched by human action while the local culture is much less under the European influence that is still felt in the country’s capital.
Pemba is one of the journey’s first stops — a port city built in the early 20th century on a peninsula in Pemba Bay. Today, the capital of the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado is a pleasant and relaxing place, located near white sand beaches surrounded by palm trees and baobab trees.
From Pemba you can catch a boat to the Quirimbas Archipelago, a set of 50 small islands that stretches out north towards the Ruvuma river's delta, near the border with Tanzania. Visitors can enjoy watching the animal and plant life of the Quirimbas Nature Park, or go scuba diving in the islands’ coral reefs and discover hidden underwater wonders.
Further south, in the Nampula province, one must again look towards the sea to find the Island of Mozambique, one of the country’s landmarks. With a local population mostly belonging to the Makua ethnic group (which is predominant in northern Mozambique), the island was occupied by the Arabs in the 9th century, while the arrival of sailor Vasco da Gama in 1498 marked the beginning of Portuguese colonial rule.
Over the next few centuries, this place was one of the Indian Ocean’s main sea trade posts where the cultures of Africa, Europe, Arabia and the East Indies met and mixed. This fact is reflected on the landscape: in the northern part of the island we find the Saint Sebastian Fort and Portuguese churches dated from the 16th and 17th Centuries, while the southern area is covered with traditional macuti houses. The Island of Mozambique is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Southern Coast
Southern Mozambique is more urbanised and densely populated, and that difference is also felt on the coastline.
From Quissico to the province of Sofala there are many fine sand beaches, dunes, fresh lagoons, palm tree forests and a deep blue ocean. This is the Inhambane province, one of the country’s main tourist attractions. Around here, you can climb aboard a dhow — a traditional Arabic sailboat, very common in Africa’s east coast — and go on a trip through the beautiful islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, one of the region’s natural wonders.
When you leave Inhambane, you will find Tofo beach, a small paradise for fans of scuba diving. The beach is shaped like a half moon made of white sand, and the local village is welcoming and cheerful. The same can be said of Závora beach, located further south in an area known for its lagoons, calm blue waters and many opportunities to go scuba diving and observe sea creatures and sunken ships. Afterwards, it is time to take a well-deserved rest in one of the many lodging establishments and camping parks near the beach.
A few hundred kilometres to the south (a distance that is best travelled by renting a car or going on a group excursion) you will finally reach Mozambique’s capital: Maputo is a dynamic seaside city, full of energy and life. The wide avenues are filled with markets, shops, and a curious architecture where the old colonial period rubs shoulders with modernism. The evenings are spent in bars and clubs rocked by local lively rhythms, and you can watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean in a long seaside road. On the city’s outskirts we find inviting beaches bathed by the waters of the Bay of Maputo, such as Ponta Malongane.
Also recommended is another boat trip into the open sea — head for the island of Inhaca, 40km away from Maputo, and you will find a natural reserve where you can spend a holiday in contact with the typical local fauna and flora.