This is a post about our Snorkeling Mozambique Island trip and more. The island is located a short distance off the coast of Mozambique in the Indian ocean. It’s an undiscovered Zanzibar. We visited over the Christmas holidays, so expected large crowds but were genuinely surprised to be the only customers in many restaurants and saw very few tourists overall.
The locals were friendly and the few hawkers were agents selling boat trips or local artists and in all cases they were polite, laid-back and making very small commissions.
One of the reasons for the low number of tourists may also be due to the island’s location. It is connected to the mainland by a one-lane causeway, but the location is far off the beaten path (3 hours drive to the nearest airport (non-international) and a long drive from anywhere else of interest. Yet the problem wasn’t the condition of the roads (they were outstanding) but simply the large distances with nothing in between. We drove from Malawi and the landscape was varied and beautiful but empty. See ‘Our Route’ below for more details about driving and border formalities.
Total Cost Range of this Activity is: $$$
Private boat trips (w/o motor) x2
Meals, transport, VISA & personal car entry fees excluded.
So why come to Mozambique Island?
Seafood and beaches are the two most obvious answers.
We ate very good to fantastic seafood meals twice a day for our entire stay. Meals range around 700 Mtc per person at well established restaurants (and local places that are in guide books). That is not cheap considering the extremely low cost of living in Moz.
There are nice beaches on Moz island but they are subject to large tidal swings (as are all beaches in this part of Africa) but the Moz beaches aren’t as pristine as those on the near-by islands or across the channel (such as Coral Reef Beach). So for a small sum you can visit these other locations, that are spectacular, quite easily.
Snorkeling Mozambique Island Boating Options
We found a few nice reef snorkeling spots (mainly around the local uninhabited islands) that are an easy boat trip away. There is also an easy wreck to snorkel east of the Ilha de Goa (Goa Island). There are also scattered old ship parts spread out for those with the time and inclination. We took a local dow to visit the island of Goa, the lighthouse and snorkel the wreck (1-3 meters depending on tide).
For a local boat, agents may approach you on the street or your hotel can also make arrangements for you. Or an easy place to get a boat for the day is at the pier at the NW side of the island. Prices very but here are my Dec 2018 prices by range.
Big Boat (with motor) seating 5+ people per day. 5000
Local dow (with motor) seating 4 max, but 2 is best, per day. 3000
Local dow (no motor, just sails) seating 4 max, but 2 is best, per day. 1500
All above prices can be reduced around 500 – 1000 if you go directly to a boat owner. You also pay per location. For example. Our first trip to Goa Island for the day in a non-motorized dow cost us 1500 via an agent. Our second day cost us 2000 direct with the captain (w/o agent) for the wreck off the Goa coast and then the rest of the day in the Coral Reef Beach area (two distinct locations in opposite directions).
Abraham – local captain we used
Rueda Biblia 85 24 51 949 – Agent, speaks Englis
Nazire 84 578 8051 – provided by Cafe Central
Antonia 84 442 4117 – provided by Cafe Central
Fernando 84 051 2620 – provided by Cafe Central
Enzo 84 742 8075 – provided by Cafe Central
Mozambique Island & Route Accommodation
Low Season Mid-Season High-Season
Jan 7 – Mar 31 Apr 1 – Jun 30 Jul 1 – Aug 31
Sep 1 – Dec 20 Dec 21 – Jan 6
Mozambique Island Accommodation
We stayed at the Cafe Central Lodge/Hotel. It has three price ranges of rooms (all include a full breakfast), excellent wifi and best of all, a swimming pool. The place is owned by an eccentric Austrian who is renovating the place in a long and slow authentic manner.
Rua da Republica, +258 84 697 9177
There were many other options, but few with pools that are not priced for western tourists with deep pockets, so I won’t bother listing any others.
Venus Hotel 24 81 0684 (clean, good restaurant, 2000 double)
The corner spot listed in the Lonely Planet is a dump, no food, bar downstairs, 2000 double.
Milanje Town Accommodation (Mozambique side)
Only two places in the town center and one outside (an expensive lodge we didn’t visit).
Left, Last Side Road before Roundabout. 2000 double, no water, no electricity, no restaurant.
Left side, 2nd last building before Roundabout. Was full but they sent us to place listed above.
Snorkeling Mozambique Island; Our Route
We started from Limbe/Blantyre, Malawi, crossed the border into Mozambique at Mulanje post and then headed SE to Macuba and then north to Nampula and then east to the coast to reach Mozambique Island. Over 900 km and 12 hrs of continuous driving for those in a rush. The roads were in excellent condition, with very little traffic (almost none other than a small number of cross-country buses or local vans around villages/towns). See How to Buy a Car in Malawi for details about border crossing paperwork for a car, etc.). Note that the border crossing is open at 6am and closes at 6pm.
Mozambique Book Guides & Maps
Warning: Buy your Mozambique road maps before you arrive in Mozambique. I could not find one anywhere and had to rely on my Google off-line maps. Note also that Google (and my Garmin GPS) sent me off in the wrong or difficult directions at times.
When it comes to Africa, buy a Braht Guide, especially for an emerging and changing country like Mozambique. The LP guide was practically useless.
Yes they speak Portuguese in Mozambique (and the local tongue) and I don’t speak either. Very few local people speak English. Fortunately, Cristina speaks Italian which turns out to be very similar so we managed with broken English, mixed Italian and hand signs. Study the language section in the back of your book guide in advance or keep it handy, you will need it.