“Go to Mozambique! As long as you don’t expect to find flawless infrastructure; just go! Because this is a country where people have not yet grown accustomed to tourists. You still feel a genuineness that no longer exists in countries where tourism has been industrially developed.” – Henning Mankell
Mozambique is located in Southern Africa, bordering the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Like the quote above mentions, it’s off the radar for many tourists and travelers who flock to more well-traveled African countries, but Mozambique is not to be overlooked! In fact, much of its coastline is undeveloped making it a rare treat. It’s scenic beaches truly enrich your travel experience.
Full of unspoilt beauty and raw charm, it’s a country where the culture, cuisine, decor, and people seep into your soul like the warm steam from a freshly brewed cup of tea. It’s inspiring, comforting, delightful, and even a bit electric with its jaw-dropping adventure and wildlife excursions.
It’s also home to some of the world’s most remarkable coral reefs with over 2,000 species of fish!
Fun Facts About Mozambique
The Portuguese influence in Mozambique is strong, so it’s not surprising that it’s known for its fresh seafood and Peri-Peri (hot and spicy) prawns and chicken.
Mozambique is also known for its crafts and traditional music. The country is full of incredibly talented artists. The textures, designs, and artwork are intricate and colorful, expressive and thoughtful. Throughout Africa and the world, you’ll find designers pull these handcrafted pieces into their interior design to create unique aesthetics.
Some other things you should know about Mozambique are:
- Portuguese is the official language, however, it’s only spoken by half of the population. Other well-spoken languages include Makhuwa, Changana, and Nyanja, to name a few.
- It’s rich in natural resources and the country’s economy is based on agriculture.
- The currency in Mozambique is the Metical, but they widely accept U.S. dollars. You should definitely travel with dollars in the North, but if you’re travelling in the South, they also widely accept South African Rand.
Is Mozambique Safe or Not?
A perusal of travel reviews will give you a mixed bag of advice. Some go as far as to warn against traveling to Mozambique because it’s unsafe and others praise its charm, local vibe, and perfectly safe atmosphere.. So what’s the truth?
While it’s seen a couple of terrorist attacks in recent months, they’ve been isolated in certain cities and towns which are easy to avoid, especially if you bypass them altogether and head to the Archipelago Bazaruto Islands.
Like any other country there are luxury destinations and resorts as well as safe spots where you can stay in charming hotels or venture like a backpacker and book a hostel.
The bottom line is that there are both areas to avoid and areas that are perfectly safe and wonderful to adventure within.
It is relatively safe in the capital city of Maputo, but like traveling to many other developing countries you should be aware that there is street crime. Use common sense and don’t walk around at night with valuables on display or to withdrawal cash from the ATM.
Flying into Mozambique
If you’re traveling from Johannesburg, South Africa, the flight to the capital city of Maputo is just around an hour’s flight! If you’re flying from outside of Africa to Mozambique, it can be worth it to compare the cost of flying direct vs flying into Johannesburg and catching another flight from there. Many find it much cheaper to do so!
Whether you’re traveling to the Islands or the capital, there are a number of international flights to choose from.
While Mozambique isn’t an island, it does boast the most remarkable marine islands! Off the Southern Coast of Mozambique, you’ll find a string of islands known as the Bazaruto Archipelago. This marine national park is a bucket-list location for wildlife lovers and explorers. It’s the place where you’ll find the world renown coral reef and many protected wildlife species.
Of the main islands, Bazaruto Island is the most well-known. And, if you’re not the backpacker type or into “roughing it,” it’s also where you’ll find some of the most luxurious stays. Let’s take a look at the town of Vilanculos on my very favorite island, Bazaruto Island.
Vilanculos, Bazaruto Island
Large sand dunes and freshwater lakes dominate the island where you’re sure to encounter one of the most acclaimed attractions: the dugong.
The dugong is a species of sea cow that grazes on sea grass. They’re vulnerable to extinction because their shallow marine habitat is often subjected to coastal development. However, their habitat is conserved in the marine national park on Bazaruto Island, which is why you’ll find a large population in the area. Their sightings, along with other incredible wildlife, make for a great marine safari adventure while visiting!
Access to the Island
You can access the island both by road or plane. It’s a safe tourist area known for its romantic beaches, Peri-Peri, and marine safaris. It’s a year-round destination with warm tropical climates. The dry season falls between May and September with the wet season falling between November and April.
A Paradise for Divers
The expansive coral reef off Bazaruto Island spans for two miles, making it a diver’s paradise. You’re sure to spot all kinds of fish, turtles, and coral formations.
A Luxury Stay on Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
If you’re wanting to stay in luxury, the Anantara Bazaruto Island resort won’t disappoint. A 5-star resort with a full-service spa, the Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort offers 44 luxury villas that are individually decorated and equipped with every amenity imaginable.
What to Do
Picnics and Traditional Dance Troupes on the Beaches
The pristine sandy beaches offer an experience in themselves. Linger in the exuberant songs and dances of traditional dance troupes while you soak up the sun. Enjoy a packed picnic lunch or swim in the warm ocean waters. The beaches are unspoilt and pristine. But, they’re not totally barren! Your needs will be catered to by the beachside bars and restaurants that dot the area. While you’ll spot a few beach restaurants and bars it’s nothing like the overdeveloped and crammed tourist beaches of many well-known islands.
Enjoy the Nightlife at the Anantara Resort or Casa Cabana Beach
If you’re into the nightlife and want something fun and exciting to do once the day winds down, the Bar and Restaurant at the Anantara Resort won’t disappoint.
The Casa Cabana Beach Bar & Restaurant is located right on the beach and also makes for a fun night of dining and drinks! Watch the sun set over the clear blue waters and bask in the wonder of the warm night air beneath the stars.
While the scenic beaches are the main attraction, the diverse architecture and culture buildings of Bazaruto Island have their allure, too! They’re not flawless by any means, but they are interesting and inspiring in their artistry and humility. They don’t boast in their grandeur yet they still touch a part of you.
Marine Safaris, Canoe Safaris, Horse Safaris, Dive Trips, and Wildlife Adventures, Including Wild Horses
You cannot visit Bazaruto Island without experiencing some sort of marine safari, dive trip, or wildlife excursion. There are so many options to choose from–from canoe safaris through water lilies down the river to marine safaris on a traditional dhow where you can spend a day on the water and island spotting dolphins, dugong, and other island wildlife.
Divers will enjoy exploring the expansive 2 mile coral reef where over 2,000 fish species and unique coral formations are on display.
Wild horses gallop through the sand and play in the surf. If you’re also a fan of the domestic kind, you can book a horse safari tour of the island!
Arts and Crafts at Machilla Magic
Machilla Magic is an arts and crafts market that must be on your “to visit” list! It’s a community upliftment endeavor just 25 kms north of Vilanculos in the small fishing village of Mucunhe. 95% of the products on display are made from recycled or reclaimed material, which is just incredible! You’ll find artwork, pottery, handcrafts, and more! 57 artists and their families are self-supported through the sales made at the market, where they pour their heart and soul into their work.
Where to Eat In and Around Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
Bazaruto Island is the heart of Peri-Peri and fresh seafood, so if that’s your thing, this is your destination!
Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort Bar & Restaurants
The Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort offers a number of dining options. The Golfinho Restaurant and Bar with its breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets boasts flavors from around the world. Clube Naval offers poolside bites and refreshments. Tartaruga features stunning oceanfront dining. And their signature private dining experience, “dining by design,” comes with a private chef and romantic setup on a secluded sandbank on the beach.
They also offer in-villa dining and, if you’re a foodie at heart who loves to play in the kitchen, their Spice Spoons cooking class is a must!
At all the restaurants, you’ll find locally sourced seafood and fresh herbs and spices directly from their resort garden pulled together to create curries, grilled delights, and more.
Johnson’s Bar Inhassaro
This charming beach bar has a 4.4 star review on Google and boasts a lovely atmosphere overlooking the ocean. It’s family and kid friendly and features really tasty meals that everyone is sure to enjoy! It’s also the perfect spot for a cold drink, beer, or cocktail after a hot day exploring or lounging on the beach.
This lovely little beachside restaurant and bar offers delicious seafood dishes and special dietary options such as vegetarian and gluten free. The perfect spot for afternoon drinks and tapas, it can be a great change of scenery from resort restaurants and buffets. In addition to seafood dishes, on Saturday nights, they also feature a traditional braai on an open fire which makes for a great experience.
Another lovely oceanfront restaurant, Samara features grilled seafood, spicy rice, yummy veggie sides such as beans, carrots, and potatoes and a number of delicious options. Instead of the traditional “fish and chips,” try their “prawn and chips!” The delicious Peri-Peri flavors tantalize your taste buds, making this the perfect spot for a lovely lunch or dinner out.
Vilanculos Beach Lodge Restaurant
Mozambican flavors with a modern flair sums up the delicacies at Vilanculos Beach Lodge Restaurant. With the option to dine either indoors or outdoors beneath the palm trees or next to the pool, you’ll love the atmosphere and ambiance.
Both breakfast and fresh seafood specials are served daily. Their menu includes a lovely variety of dishes including chickpea salad, smoked fish burgers, parmesan crusted fish filet, margarita pizza, chicken schnitzel, Thai prawn and pineapple curry, and much more!
On Sundays, they offer a set menu at a fixed rate which includes a starter, main, sides, and a dessert. This charming restaurant is definitely a must-visit on your trip!
Bahia Mar Club Restaurant
With multiple charming dining atmospheres, Bahia Mar Club is a dining experience to savor! Grab a seat under a thatched roof, beside the pool, or beneath palm trees in the garden. If you’re after a great ambiance and excellent food, look no further!
They feature a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu with a ton of variety and options. Their breakfast menu includes everything from fresh fruit to ham, cheese, and tomato omelets to eggs benedict, fresh greens, or a full English breakfast. Their lunch menu has numerous seafood, sandwich, burger, salad, and soup options. For dinner, choose from a variety of starters and main dishes, including grilled fish, prawns, lobster, Peri-Peri chicken, Sirloin steak with pepper sauce and more.
If you’re a health lover, they’ve worked with a nutritionist to create a unique juice and spa menu that is available to guests who stay as well as visitors to their restaurant.
I hope you have enjoyed reading our Mozambique Travel Guide! For more information contact Love From Mwai Experiences. Until next time