Blessed with several of Africa’s most spectacular beaches, Mozambique is famous for its incredible marine life and time-warped old Portuguese towns.
A holiday in Mozambique is pretty much all about beach destinations. Or rather, the beaches, the fishing, and the excellent snorkeling and diving available on the seemingly endless string of offshore reefs and islands.
Mozambique is a maritime country, with an astonishing 2,500km (1,553mi) of Indian Ocean frontage separating South Africa from Tanzania. Most visitors on a Mozambique island holiday never stray further inland than they need to.
Despite this, the country is divided into two distinct parts, the north and the south, linked by a solitary bridge across the Zambezi River and offering very different experiences to visitors on a Mozambique holiday.
The Bazaruto Archipelago consists of five glorious main islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina, and Bangue.
Bazaruto Island is the largest, sporting a 30km (19mi) spine of dazzling dunes that roll down its eastern flank above a picturesque turquoise sea.
Across a narrow channel to the south, Benguerra Island is less than half the size, and Magaruque Island and Santa Carolina are even smaller.
Credit: Santorini Ozambique
In the far south, Bangue Island is little more than a sandbar, while a sixth tiny satellite called Pansy (or Shell Island) gets completely submerged at high tide.
The area is protected within a 1430km2 (552 square mile) marine park and offers some of the best diving, snorkeling, and recreational game fishing in Africa.
Around 5000 Mozambicans call the islands their home, giving the archipelago a ‘lived-in paradise’ feel. Kids splash in the waves, colorful dhows fish offshore, and there’s a timeless, friendly atmosphere if you feel inclined to explore.
Bazaruto’s dunes are lovely to climb, and the freshwater lakes and inland forests support crocodiles, tiny antelope, endemic butterflies, and over 180 species of birds.
Take a day trip to Pansy sandbar, and you’ll find it sprinkled with eye-catching sea-urchin shells, while divers and snorkelers can see whales, sharks, turtles, and rays.
Over 2000 species of fish have been recorded, and the surrounding waters are also home to the highly threatened marine mammal, the dugong. Though sightings are rare, this is the best place to spot them during your holiday in Bazaruto.
A handful of world-class luxury resorts are the only options for staying on the islands. These lodges are some of the best in East Africa for understated, intimate, exclusive escapes.
Guests can choose a short, spectacular flight from Vilanculos or an equally beautiful transfer by boat. The sea can get choppy if the wind picks up, so flights are preferable if you’re prone to seasickness.
From November to March, the hotter summer months are best for spotting whale sharks, but with the greatest risk of rain and, occasionally, severe storms.
Humpback whales are common during the dry, warm winter, but you’ll find extraordinary life beneath the waves whenever you visit.
The sleepy town of Inhambane was once a key trading center in southern Mozambique, but the days since Portuguese galleons plied these shores for ivory and slaves are long gone.
Inhambane is best known for its handful of good restaurants, Art Deco cinema, and a 19th-century Catholic church. Most visitors stop only briefly in Inhambane on holiday, however, on their way to the popular beach resort of Tofo to the east.
Credit: Sava Dunes
Tofo Beach, and the adjacent cluster of cottages at Tofinho, attract a steady stream of sun and sea devotees.
This chilled dive and surf hotspot is a firm favorite with backpackers, but there are also some stunning upmarket guesthouses and lodges spread up and down along the coast.
Tofo’s beaches and nearby resorts are some of the most popular on a Mozambique holiday. There’s plenty of space on a Tofo and Inhambane holiday, so it rarely feels crowded, although Christmas and Easter can get packed.
Inhambane and Tofo have chilled bars, beach restaurants, and excellent seafood, especially fresh prawns.
For surfers, the Indian Ocean swell throws up a couple of solid point breaks, one off the main beach and one around the corner in Tofinho.
Tofo is considered one of the best places in the world to see these giants – especially the mantas, which can have wingspans over seven meters wide!
Diving with manta rays is possible all year, but as the reef they frequent is around 24m (79ft) deep, you’ll need an advanced dive qualification to see them.
Whale sharks are most common from November to April. To see these creatures, boat-based snorkeling trips are best.
There’s a bustling little market off the main beach, selling fresh fish, groceries, and drinks. There’s also an excellent selection of local crafts, paintings, and souvenirs, though you’ll find the prices in Inhambane slightly cheaper.
There is no bank in Tofo, and no way to draw cash, so bring enough with you as few places accept cards.
Maputo is Mozambique’s fun, chaotic capital, fanning back from the northern shores of the sparkling Maputo Bay. You’ll find Art Deco architecture alongside colonial-era Portuguese homes on Maputo’s downtown grid of jacaranda and acacia-lined avenues.
Not all are well-maintained, and there are certainly potholes here and there, but on the whole, the impression is of a city on the rise.
You’ll find excellent restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and good hotels in Maputo. There’s also a three-hour ferry (or you can fly) to nearby Inhaca Island.
A Mozambique holiday should include Maputo if you’re looking for both a cultural and relaxed experience.
Don’t miss Maputo’s Casa de Ferro (House of Iron), the strange pre-fabricated iron mansion imported from Belgium in 1892.
The Natural History Museum should also be on your list, although more for its wonderfully ornate Manueline gothic building than for the slightly chaotic exhibitions inside.
There are seven major street markets in Maputo selling fresh fish, delicious food, and crafts, but the vast Barracas do Museu night market deserves special mention. Hardly a market at all, it serves nothing but drinks – an absolute must if you’re on the hunt for a vibe!
On the far side of Maputo bay, Ilha de Inhaca is the most accessible island in Mozambique. It’s an utterly beautiful, palm-fringed subtropical paradise and surprisingly crowd-free, considering its proximity to the capital.
Across the channel below Inhaca lies Cape Santa Maria and the Machangulo Peninsula, which connects to the mainland in the south.
Machangulo’s beaches are some of the most immaculate in Mozambique, though they’re hard to reach unless you stay at one of the region’s exclusive Maputo lodges.
Maputo is a friendly, relatively crime-free city, but take the usual precautions, especially regarding pickpockets.
By law, you’re required to carry personal identification at all times, so it’s worthwhile bringing a certified copy of your passport and leaving the actual document at your hotel.
Most larger establishments accept payment by credit card, although mostly Visa over MasterCard (Amex is unheard of).
Besides walking, the best way to get around the city is by taxi, and if you plan on taking multiple trips, then it’s less expensive to negotiate a day rate in advance.
A few days on a Maputo holiday in Maputo is a rewarding option for the adventurous. It’s a lively, attractive African city that’s more inviting than overwhelming.
The Ilha de Moçambique is a historical gem and a wonderfully laid-back slice of heaven. The Mozambique island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural and architectural significance, notably its fine 16th-century fort and associated chapel.
It’s the island, not the mainland, that first took the name ‘Mozambique,’ derived from the sultan Ali Musa Mbiki who was the ruler in the late 15th century.
When the Portuguese arrived and drove the sultan out, they established an outpost that would dominate the Mozambique region for nearly four hundred years.
Eventually, the mainland assumed the name of this European base, and when the bulk of trade shifted south to Maputo, the Island of Mozambique faded from the world stage.
A holiday to Mozambique Island is a perfect opportunity to relax and learn about East African culture and history.
The Island of Mozambique is the oldest European settlement in East Africa. The Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte (Our Lady of the Ramparts) is thought to be the oldest European building south of the equator.
The chapel dates to 1522 and is protected by the impressive limestone Fort of São Sebastião.
The fort was completed in the second half of the 16th century and saw off several major attacks, most notably by the Dutch in 1607 and 1608.
The São Paulo Palace Museum is fascinating, as are the Sacred Art and Maritime Museums.
Ponta’s scuba diving is world-class, and the conditions for underwater photography are ideal. The water is warm and clear, and the offshore reefs are famous for their reef sharks, whale sharks, turtles, dolphins, and rays.
Ponta is a year-round beach holiday destination, but pick your dates with care for the best diving and snorkeling.
Whales and whale sharks are most common between July and January, while shark cage diving season (a specialty in Ponta) runs from September to April.
Dolphins, turtles, and rays can be seen throughout the year, but the summer months (November to March) are the most pleasant to be on a beach holiday.
Until recently, Ponta could only be reached by 4×4, but a newly sealed road now runs to Maputo and South Africa. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the town, but if complete solitude is what you’re after, then there are some superb, quieter lodges just a short way up the coast.
Vilanculos is probably Mozambique’s fastest-growing and most bustling beach holiday town, a jumbled network of half-sealed, half-sandy streets on a typically lovely ribbon of coastline.
With a small but international airport that sees daily flights from South Africa, it’s popular with luxury fly-in visitors and backpackers.
Though Vilanculos has gorgeous beaches and is a much-loved destination, the town also serves as the perfect gateway for a Bazaruto islands holiday.
Credit: Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel
This stunning, protected archipelago beckons, just a lazy dhow-ride offshore. There’s a huge diversity of more affordable accommodations in town for those who can’t quite manage the ultra-luxury lodges on the islands.
Day trips to the nearby reefs are arguably Vilanculos’ major draw – the diving and snorkeling are simply some of the best in East Africa.
Two Mile Reef, in particular, is an absolute must when visiting Vilanculos, and from July to November, you may see humpback whales cruising by underwater.
Even if you miss them, you’ll almost certainly hear their haunting songs as a myriad of bright fish flash by, along with rays, turtles, and perhaps even a whale shark.
Credit: Santorini Mozambique
Big-game fishing is also hugely popular off Vilanculos, as marlin, sailfish, barracuda, and tuna all frequent these waters.
With its wide range of Vilanculos resorts, barefoot bars, and palm-fringed beaches, there’s something for everyone in what remains a laid-back, uncrowded holiday town.
Daily flights from Johannesburg and Nelspruit make travel arrangements easy. Nelspruit lies on the southern border of the Kruger National Park, and with a flight time of only an hour and 10 minutes, it’s easy to combine South Africa’s most famous wildlife park with a beach holiday.
There are banks in Vilanculos, a pharmacy and a private hospital, and a couple of well-stocked supermarkets if you’re booking a self-catering villa.
Before you leave, check out the two main central markets, where you’ll find an excellent selection of local handicrafts and souvenirs.
January is one of Mozambique’s hottest, wettest months, with daily highs along the coast averaging 31°C (88°F). The nights are warm and there’s often a stiff breeze, especially in the south which tends to be a little cooler.
Though highly unpredictable, January mornings often begin bright and clear, with clouds building around lunchtime into powerful afternoon thunderstorms.
As you move up the coast, it gets warmer and wetter; Pemba and the Quirimbas see two to three times more rain than Maputo. The severity of the storms also increases, with cyclones a regular scourge in the northeast.
Credit: Anvil Bay Lodge
As you move up the coast, it gets warmer and wetter. Pemba and the Quirimbas see two to three times more rain than Maputo. The severity of the storms also increases, with cyclones a common scourge in the northeast.
If you’re thinking of having a Mozambique holiday in January, then the beaches from Ponta do Ouro to Inhaca Island are best. Early January will be busy in Ponta, but the town will quieten down by the end of the month.
Further north, towards the Machangulo Peninsula, you’ll find a succession of excellent Mozambique accommodation boasting secluded beaches and a distinct lack of crowds. Tofo and Vilanculos are also popular in January, though being further north, they tend to see more rain.
On the whole, January is an uncertain time to visit Mozambique. Gorgeous, hot beach days will flip erratically with sudden storms. Stick south of Vilanculos, and you’ll have the best chance of good weather, but expect heat, humidity, and some rain.
Once the holiday rush ends in the middle of January, you may find some good deals and even entire resorts to yourself. The water is warm (28°C/82°F) and lovely for snorkeling and diving. There’s also a good chance of seeing nesting turtles along the coast, and it’s prime time for whale sharks, especially in Tofo and the waters around Vilanculos and Bazaruto.
The main disadvantage of visiting Mozambique in January is the weather. It can get sweltering and humid, and you’ll almost certainly have some rain. Early January can be busy along the south coast, especially in Ponta do Ouro, Tofo, and Vilanculos. January marks the end of the humpback whale season, and you’re unlikely to see many at this time. Gorongosa National Park is also off-limits. It stays closed due to flooding until mid-April.
January and February are much the same in Mozambique. It’s the height of summer, with similar conditions through to March.
Temperatures along the coast average 31°C/88°F, the nights are warm and humid, and hot days can top 35°C/95°F. There’s regular rainfall, which can be torrential at times, especially in the north, where there’s a chance of severe storms.
December to April is cyclone season in Mozambique, and the north-eastern coast has been seriously affected in recent years. The southern coast is less at risk, but expect partly cloudy skies, building to rain every few days.
Mornings are often bright and clear, but for full-day, predictable sunshine, it’s better to visit later in the year.
In February, it’s undoubtedly best in the south of Mozambique. From Vilanculos down, you’ll have sunnier days. It’s a relatively quiet month across Mozambique and a great time to be in Tofo and Ponta do Ouro.
The coast north of Ponta can be especially worthwhile, with off-peak specials and empty resorts. It’s essential, however, to stress the season’s unpredictability – you’ll likely get some rain all along the coast.
Lounging indoors and watching storms roll off the ocean can be wonderful unless your heart’s set on the beach. Rough seas may also impact boat trips and diving, though it’s rare that poor conditions persist for very long.
February can be an excellent month to see nesting turtles in Mozambique, especially leatherbacks and loggerheads, which favor the beaches from Bazaruto south to Ponta do Ouro. February is also ideal for snorkeling with whale sharks. Tofo is the top location, but Ponta and Bazaruto are also good options.
As with January, February’s main disadvantage when having a Mozambique holiday is the hot, humid weather, and it’s impossible to predict whether you’ll get sunny or rained-out days. It’s also the worst period for sighting humpback whales, and Mozambique’s main national park, Gorongosa, is closed.
Temperatures remain high as Mozambique’s long, wet summer continues. Expect humid nights above 20°C/68°F and average daily highs still over 30°C/86°F.
In the north of Mozambique, peak cyclone season remains, and many of the biggest storms strike the coast in March. Flooding is exacerbated by rivers swollen with inland rain, and northern Mozambique can be difficult to reach at this time.
When the rains recede, their slow withdrawal begins in the south, and by late March, the far south may see some sunny days. Although it’s still undoubtedly hot and wet across the country, there’s a hint of change in the air, and you may get lucky with some intermittent fine weather.
Credit: Baraka Beach
If you’re visiting Mozambique in March, it’s still best to head south, from Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago, down to Ponta do Ouro.
Be aware that southern Mozambique can get busy towards the end of March when South African schools break for the Easter holidays. If you’re searching for solitude, there are still plenty of secluded resorts, especially around the Machangulo Peninsula, south of Inhaca Island.
The lodges on Bazaruto and Benguerra Islands offer exclusive escapes year-round, and there are several out-of-the-way guesthouses and villas north and south of Tofo.
If barefoot beach bars and a more social vibe are what you’re after, then take your pick of Vilanculos, Tofo Beach, or Ponta do Ouro. Vilanculos and Tofo Beach have more of a backpacker feel, while Ponta attracts a lively, family crowd from across the South African border.
February and March are some of Mozambique’s best months for nesting turtles. March is still great for whale sharks in Tofo, and the warm water is ideal for diving and snorkeling all along the coast. If you’re looking for a party, the Easter holidays can be fun, especially in the resort towns of Vilanculos, Tofo, and Ponta do Ouro.
Resorts and lodges in Mozambique fill up quickly over the Easter holiday, so make bookings reasonably far in advance. There’ll likely still be rain, at least every few days, and both days and nights up and down the coast will be humid and hot. March isn’t good for seeing humpback whales – they only start arriving in June. Mozambique’s main safari park, Gorongosa National Park, is closed during the wet season and only reopens in April.
April is usually a lovely month in Mozambique, as the summer rains slowly clear, starting in the south. Day and night-time averages gradually fall, dipping below 30°C/86°F and 20°C/68°F in the south for the first time since October.
The north of Mozambique is warmer and may yet receive heavy rain – it’s still the tail end of the cyclone season, and recent years have seen late storms. However, you should see more sun than rain if you stick to the coastal regions in the south of Mozambique.
Credit: Anvil Bay Lodge
Early April can be busy in the south when the South African schools are on Easter break. Ponta do Ouro, Tofo Beach, and Vilanculos will all be at their fullest, and securing bookings can be tricky.
That said, there’s still plenty of room in these sprawling beach towns and even more options around them.
You’ll find a bustle of activity at a few central campsites and bars and plenty of peace and quiet on the fringes. The north of Mozambique is still much wetter in April and anywhere north of Beira is at greater risk of late-season cyclones.
By the middle of the month, the central highlands are usually drying, and Gorongosa National Park reopens.
As April unfolds and the Easter holidays end, there’ll be fewer and fewer people on a Mozambique holiday. You won’t get endless sunny days, but it’s wonderfully peaceful to be on any of Mozambique’s southern beaches. April is also the tail end of the whale shark season, and it’s an excellent time to snorkel with them, especially in Ponta do Ouro and Tofo. Mozambique’s inland safaris also get going in April when Gorongosa National Park reopens. The park closes in December, at the start of the rains, and usually opens mid-month once the summer floods have subsided.
It can be hard to secure bookings in Mozambique at the beginning of the month, especially in Ponta do Ouro. In the north of Mozambique, there’s still a high chance of storms; even in the south, you may get unlucky with late rain and overcast weather.
May is an excellent month to visit Mozambique. It’s not yet peak season, but the weather is generally fine and warm. In the south of the country, daily highs average below 30°C/86°F and the nights are cooler and less humid, sometimes dropping below 15°C/59°F.
The north stays hotter longer, with average highs of roughly 31°C/88°F. The nights are also much warmer and more humid, seldom less than 20°C/68°F. Although the end of the rainy season varies greatly from year to year, May is usually warm and dry, especially in the south.
A final few clouds may still unleash the occasional downpour, but by the end of May, you can expect clearer skies across Mozambique.
Anywhere from the Bazaruto Archipelago south is usually ideal throughout May. The weather will improve as the month continues, and the far south – from Inhaca Island to Ponta do Ouro – will get the best of conditions as the last of the rains move north.
Pemba, Mozambique Island, and the Quirimbas are still a gamble weather-wise but can be warm, quiet, and generally idyllic, especially in late May.
May is also an excellent time for a city break in Maputo. The days are usually warm and bright, without the humidity of mid-summer, and the AZGO Festival of arts and music brings an added flair to the capital.
Maputo’s AZGO Festival runs for four days, mid-May, and attracts a lively mix of top Mozambican and international artists. Across the bay, Inhaca Island hosts the annual Inhaca Challenge, a deep-sea fishing competition that draws sport anglers from across Southern Africa. Late May is also a great time to visit Gorongosa National Park. By now, the summer floods should have significantly retreated, leaving the park at its lush, green best.
If you’re keen on marine giants, then May is an uncertain time. There will probably still be whale sharks in Tofo, but sightings are less regular than earlier in the year. In Ponta do Ouro, the shark diving season also ends in April, and humpback whales only start to arrive along the Mozambican coast in June. Some lodges, particularly in the north of Mozambique, take their own holidays in May, and some sea-based activities might be limited in certain areas.
June marks the start of Mozambique’s cooler, drier winter season, sprinkled with bright, hot days that can still climb over 30°C/86°F. Average highs in the south are closer to 26°C/79°F, however, and nights are far less humid, making it easier to sleep.
Throughout the year, the south of Mozambique is cooler and drier than the north. By June, even the north has very little chance of rain. You can expect clear, blues skies and the occasional wisp of cloud all along Mozambique’s coast.
Inland the skies will also be clear, and it can get relatively cold in the highlands, where night-time temperatures can drop below 10°C/50°F.
June is a great time to start thinking about the far north. Pemba, Mozambique Island and the Quirimbas are at their best from June to October. The bright warm days are perfect for spending time on the beach, although September and October will be hotter if you’re after a serious tan.
As you head south, the great beach weather continues – it’s prime time all along the coast from Vilanculo and Tofo to Ponta do Ouro. As ever, these resorts are influenced by the South Africa school holidays and tend to get busier when the winter break begins in late June.
With its handful of luxury resorts the Bazaruto Archipelago is less affected. June is an excellent time to visit these islands, as humpback whales return.
June is the start of humpback whale season, especially along Mozambique’s southern coast. Conditions are often calm and clear and it’s a wonderful time to interact with these giants. In the Quirimbas Archipelago, Ibo Island hosts its Kueto Siriwala festival. The festival (which means ‘don’t forget your roots’), begins on 23 June and song, dance, food and dhow racing takes over the island for a fun-filled three days.
There are few disadvantages of visiting Mozambique in June. It is the start of peak season, however, so it’s safest to book limited-space activities (such as whale watching boat tours) in advance.
July is warm and pleasant all across Mozambique and ideal for a Mozambique holiday. It’s mid-winter, and the days are bright and clear. The daily average in the south is roughly 26°C/79°F.
It can get a little hotter along the northeastern coastline, but only the hottest days might touch 30°C/86°F.
Away from the coast, it’s generally about 5 to 10°C cooler, and cold nights in the highlands can drop below 10°C/50°F. July and August are Mozambique’s driest months. Despite the very occasional, very localized brief shower, there’s little chance of rain anywhere in the country.
July is an excellent time to go anywhere in Mozambique. Maputo is warm and sunny, not at all humid, and ideal for exploring on foot.
The southern beaches that run from Inhaca Island to Ponta do Ouro are just as pleasant, and the same can be said of Tofo, Inhambane, and Vilanculos.
The first two weeks of July are usually slightly busier along the coast – until the school holidays end in neighboring South Africa. Both of Mozambique’s beautiful archipelagos are truly superb throughout July.
By July, Mozambique’s humpback whales can be seen from the Quirimbas to Ponta do Ouro. Tofo and Vilanculos/Bazaruto are particularly popular places to spot them. July to December are the best months for anglers, with the early part of the season ideal for sailfish off Bazaruto. All along the coast, you can expect warm, clear weather and some of the year’s best diving and snorkeling conditions.
July is a popular time in Mozambique, so be sure to book your holiday well in advance. If you want to swim with whale sharks, this isn’t the best time – instead, delay until October or November.
August is another excellent month to visit Mozambique. It’s slightly warmer than June and July, and perfect beach weather. Average temperatures in the south are between 17°C/63°F and 27°C/81°F, while Pemba, Mozambique Island, and the Quirimbas are usually a few degrees warmer.
August is one of Mozambique’s driest months, though there may still be a shower or two, especially in the south. Away from the coast, it rarely rains, and the temperature range is more extreme. Expect nighttime lows of around 15°C/59°F and hot days well over 30°C/86°F.
From August to October, Gorongosa National Park steadily dries out. Traditionally these are the best months for spotting animals as the vegetation thins, and animals congregate around the handful of permanent water sources.
The park is still recovering from extensive poaching during the war, but there’s been a concerted effort to rejuvenate the area, and animal populations are growing.
If you’re heading to the beaches of Mozambique, then the entire coastline is ideal. It’ll be slightly hotter in the far north, but expect beautiful, balmy days wherever you go on your Mozambique holiday.
August is an excellent time to visit Gorongosa National Park, one of Southern Africa’s most beautiful wilderness areas. The region is famous for its extraordinary birding safari opportunities, and the elephant and lion populations have consistently increased since the war. Mount Gorongosa is one of the world’s last uncharted wilderness areas, with numerous endemic species, some brand new to science.
Up and down the coast of Mozambique, August is prime time for humpback whales, and it’s one of the best months of the year for diving and snorkeling. Across the country, the weather is superb – it’s arguably the best month to have a beach vacation. Both nights and days get gradually warmer but are still a long way off the humid heat of mid-summer.
August is still a bit too early for guaranteed whale shark encounters. If these incredible giants are on your bucket list, then October onwards is better for your Mozambique holiday. Otherwise, there’s very little downside to August, except that being such a great time to visit, it will be slightly busier.
September in Mozambique sees steadily warming days and nights. The northern coastline, always slightly hotter, consistently averages over 30°C/86°F.
The south and interior are generally cooler, but there’s far more daily variation, and the highs and lows are more extreme. Hot days can reach well over 35°C/95°F inland, while the nights cool rapidly, averaging around 16°C/61°F.
September is typically still dry across Mozambique, but along the southern coast, the clouds start building, and there may be the occasional brief spring storm.
As the month continues, you can expect more partly-cloudy beach days in the south of Mozambique and a freshening breeze – it’s the windiest month in Maputo.
Pemba and the Quirimbas are picture-perfect in September. You’ll have hot, sunny days with bright blue skies and fluffy clouds. In Vilanculos, Bazaruto, and Tofo, the norm is slightly less blue and a bit more cloud, while Maputo and Ponta do Ouro will get a few completely overcast days.
That said, the southern coast of Mozambique is hardly to be avoided in September. It’s still great beach weather, and the diving and snorkeling conditions are usually excellent.
This is also a good time for a safari in Gorongosa National Park. Just be aware that temperatures will be climbing – September to November are the hottest months in the park.
September is another great month for seeing humpback whales in Mozambique. Whale spotting boat tours can be arranged from most major coastal resorts. Divers all along the coast will almost certainly hear their enigmatic calls, and off Bazaruto, Tofo, and Ponta do Ouro, you may even catch a glimpse of them underwater.
Although rain is very unlikely in September – and then only in the south – it’s generally cloudier and windier than July and August, and there may be the odd spring squall. Diving conditions are generally excellent, but visibility may drop on more windy days.
Throughout October, the heat gradually builds, and there’s an ever-increasing chance of thunderstorms in the south of Mozambique. The southern coast averages around 29°C/84°F, although some days can get considerably hotter.
The northeastern coastline is always slightly warmer than the south and has a more consistent local climate with fewer extremes. Nights are warm – about 20°C/68°F – and most days will hover around 32°C/90°F.
Away from the coast and the sea’s cooling breezes, temperatures of 35°C/95°F or more are common. As the humidity rises, the clouds gather overhead, and Mozambique holds its breath for the first summer rains.
For the best beach holiday weather, head north in October. Pemba and the Quirimbas are excellent at this time of year. Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago are also good to visit in October, with fewer cloudy days than in Tofo and the south.
By late October, there is some rain in Ponta do Ouro and in Maputo, which can get particularly hot and humid. The fresh ocean breeze brings welcome relief in the capital; October is one of the windier months along the southern coast of Mozambique.
To the north and inland, Gorongosa National Park is sweltering. It’s arguably the best time for seeing wild animals on a Mozambique safari, as they flock to the park’s few permanent water sources, but be prepared for temperatures up to 38°C/100°F.
October is an excellent month for sport fishing, particularly for marlin off the Bazaruto Archipelago. It also marks the start of the turtle breeding season, when there’s an increased chance of seeing them while diving and snorkeling along the coast.
October remains an excellent month for seeing humpback whales, and by the end of the month, the magnificent whale sharks return to the waters off Tofo.
Although October is generally still a great time for a Mozambique holiday, there’ll be fewer optimal beach days, especially in the south. By the end of the month, the south will also likely see some rain, but usually not enough to get in the way of outdoor pursuits.
Mozambique’s rainy season begins in November, starting in the south and moving slowly up the coast. The arrival of the rains is unpredictable and irregular. Expect a succession of hot, humid days interspersed with impressive thunderstorms.
Temperatures in the south can top 38°C/100°F, but conditions cool rapidly as soon as the rain begins to fall. This is the hottest time of year along the northeastern coastline, and it’s usually the last area in Mozambique to receive any rain.
Pemba and the Quirimbas Archipelago are the driest regions of Mozambique in November. The weather is generally hot and clear, with light sea breezes and balmy evenings on the beach.
The southern beach resorts are less certain, however. Diving and fishing can be excellent in Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Islands, for example, but rough conditions may hamper activities some days.
Similarly, with the whale sharks returning in Tofo, there’s every reason to visit, despite the chance of choppy seas and rain. You’ll find hot, humid conditions down the coast – great for being in the water but less comfortable when you’re trying to sleep.
Although November can be hot, humid, and occasionally wet, it’s just the start of the rainy season, and there’ll still be plenty of bright, sunny days. It’s a great time to risk uncertain weather for top marine activities, such as snorkeling with whale sharks, deep-sea angling, and shark diving.
If your time in Mozambique is short, the summer months present a risk. Rough seas can disrupt dive activities; although it rarely lasts long, you may miss out.
The heat and humidity are also not for everyone. If you prefer cooler (drier) weather, then June to September are better.
Mozambique’s summer rainy season begins in earnest in December. The country’s south receives the rains first, which get heavier and more frequent as they spread north up the coast.
Inland areas also see heavy rain, although, like the far north of Mozambique, the heaviest downpours usually arrive in January. December is one of Mozambique’s hottest months, with average day-time temperatures well above 30°C/86°.
Nights are also warm and humid everywhere, seldom dropping below 20°C/68°F. December marks the start of Mozambique’s cyclone season, and powerful storms can hit the northern coast until April or May.
Credit: Anvile Bay Lodge
Despite the chance of rain, the far southern beaches are still very popular in December. The usual pattern is for bright, clear mornings, with thunderclouds building in the early afternoon.
When the rain does fall – and it’s not every day – it brings a welcome relief from the heat. And rain or not, the sea is always warm and inviting, and clear days can offer spectacular diving.
On the whole, in December, it’s best to pick a region for its activities. Tofo for whale sharks and manta rays, Ponta do Ouro for shark diving and turtles. Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Islands are well-known for all the above, plus outstanding deep-sea sport fishing.
The summer months are arguably Mozambique’s best for marine life, and one of December’s major highlights is the chance to see turtles. Various species, including giant leatherbacks, nest along the coast and can be seen on the beaches as they come ashore to lay their eggs.
If marine giants are what you’re after, then December is a great time. Although humpback whales are only rarely spotted this late, it’s excellent for whale sharks, reef sharks, and manta rays.
Generally speaking, December is a risk if your holiday is short in Mozambique – there’s always a chance you’ll hit a succession of rained-out days. It may mean that boat dives are impossible for a period or that underwater visibility is poor for your stay.
For land-based Mozambique safaris, December is also not ideal. Gorongosa National Park usually closes mid-month when flooding makes the roads too wet to drive.
The best and only time to experience the thriving Gorongosa National Park is during the dry season - which runs from April to November.
However, during the rainy season of December to March, the roads are closed due to flooding. Hence the park is inaccessible. The best time for bird watching is usually December to April.
The dry month of June to September is the best time to travel to Mozambique - when the bush has thinned out and the wildlife is concentrated around the waterholes and the rivers.
The best time to visit Bazaruto Island is during the dry season months of May to November. Mozambique is blessed with warm temperatures all year round, making it an excellent destination for water sport enthusiasts.
Generally speaking, the most affordable option will be to hire a house and self-cater. All three regions in Mozambique have holiday cottages and villas where guests can cook for themselves. Also, look out for all-inclusive specials, which can be great value if activities are included.
While you’re on your Mozambique holiday, it’s worth splashing out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whether diving with sharks or a desert island picnic, these unforgettable moments make Mozambique unique. You can go humpback whale spotting, take a dhow cruise or search for giant loggerhead turtles.
All these can be booked as separate tours when you arrive, or you can book in advance and take advantage of any specials. One affordable route can be to find a more upmarket hotel that offers great value for money on their in-house excursions.
Credit: Rio Azul
Good deals are especially likely during the December to April low season and the shoulder season months of November and May.
The Metical is the local Mozambican currency. Still, many mid-range hotels and restaurants will take US dollars, and around Ponta do Ouro, South African Rands are also widely used.
Credit cards are increasingly accepted in the major centers, although Visa is preferred, and smaller businesses will likely only accept meticais.
Whatever you do, spend all your meticais before you leave. You’ll find it very difficult to exchange outside of Mozambique and will certainly get a very poor rate if you find a willing FOREX agent.
For a budget-conscious holiday in Mozambique, it’s best to head for one of the main southern beach towns – specifically, Ponta do Ouro, Tofo Beach, or Vilanculos.
Your principal expenses will likely be diving and boating activities, closely followed by budget-friendly accommodation, meals, and local transportation.
Credit: Ibo Island Lodge
Internal flights in Mozambique are relatively expensive, as are private vehicle transfers between the more upmarket hotels. For example, a flight from Maputo to Tofo (Inhambane) will cost around $160 one way, while a bus or shared tourist shuttle is about $16 and a local shared taxi (chapa) even less.
Diving is one of Mozambique’s major highlights, but prices vary widely depending on where you go. Ponta do Ouro tends to be the most affordable at around $40 per dive, including gear.
Tofo Beach is slightly more at about $50 (also with rented gear), while in Vilanculos, it can be over $100 a dive, with the added boat transfer/fuel costs to reach the outer reefs.
Credit: Vamizi Island
If you’re traveling alone, it’s worth making friends, as many dive centers offer discounts for groups. If you’re looking to learn, Mozambique’s warm waters are ideal. You can get your PADI Open Water certification for around $350.
Mozambique has an extensive ATM network, so it’s unnecessary to arrive with huge amounts of cash.
Take at least two bank cards – Visa is preferred – and hide away some backup currency in case of any emergencies.
Camping is the most affordable option, and there are places to pitch a tent in all the main beach holiday spots.
The food is excellent and very well priced, and you can feast on local dishes and street fare for less than $10 a day.
The Machangulo Peninsula offers gorgeous, serviced beach villas and elegant hotels. At the same time, the handful of lodges on the Bazaruto and Quirimbas islands serve up laid-back, barefoot luxury at its best.
A luxury holiday in Mozambique can also be a chance to get involved. Many of the top lodges are linked with local conservation and community projects, emphasizing long-term sustainability.
Highlights include rare marine encounters with the highly threatened dugong, nesting turtles, bird-watching kayak adventures, and spectacular diving in the Bazaruto and Quirimbas marine parks.
Credit: Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort
Luxury in Mozambique has an easy-going island flair – a focus on comfort, breathtaking locations, privacy, and exclusivity.
Mozambique is an excellent choice for a beach and safari combo. The Bazaruto Archipelago has easy flight connections to top lodges in northern South Africa. The Quirimbas Islands are not far from some of Africa’s best wildlife experiences in Zambia and Tanzania.
Look out for special deals around the October and November shoulder season. It can be scorching just before the rains, but it’s an excellent time for spotting animals and is usually perfect beach weather, especially in the Quirimbas.
If you’re stopping in Maputo, the capital also has some fine luxury hotels. Slick and well-run, they offer excellent value for money and a convenient, comfortable base from which to explore this vibrant city.
Tourism to Mozambique, consisting mainly of South African fishermen, is concentrated here in a string of developed beach resorts. These include Tofo, Inhambane, Vilanculos, and the offshore islands of Bazaruto National Park.
The beaches of the north of Mozambique are no less beautiful, and the offshore reefs and islands are just as bountiful. However, amenities here tend to be more scattered. With the exception of the mainland resort of Pemba and the honeymoon-friendly Quirimbas Islands, they are generally more rudimentary.
Mozambique has some of the most absorbing towns in southern Africa. These range from the modern capital Maputo, with its palm-lined avenidas and Art Deco architecture, to historic backwaters such as Ilha de Moçambique (the capital of Portuguese East Africa for almost four centuries) and Ibo.
For wildlife safari enthusiasts, highlights include the renascent Gorongosa National Park inland of Beira and the vast Niassa Game Reserve bordering Tanzania.
Mozambique has long been a family holiday favorite among South Africans. Over Christmas and Easter, in particular, the vast southern beaches are a playground for kids.
There’s plenty of space for children to run around and explore, plus laid-back, family-friendly resorts that offer kids’ clubs, child discounts, and daycare.
Credit: Santorini Mozambique
You’ll need an adventurous spirit for a family safari in Mozambique, especially if you have very young children. Road transfers can be long and bumpy, and there’s a high malaria incidence throughout Mozambique.
While traveling to Mozambique with very young kids is not impossible, it might be better to wait until they’re a little older. There’s more effective anti-malarial medication for older kids and teens.
Once they reach ten years old, they can take introductory scuba diving courses and access the marvels beneath the sea.
Best places to visit in Mozambique
The best regions for a family holiday in Mozambique are in and around Ponta do Ouro, Tofo Beach, and Vilanculos. Of the three, Vilanculos is the most accessible, with its international airport and regular flights from Johannesburg and Maputo.
Family activities from Vilanculos include speedboat trips, dhow rides, shallow dive sites, and safe swimming. A snorkeling trip and picnic to one of Bazaruto’s sheltered beaches is an unforgettable experience for kids of all ages.
Further south of Mozambique, the Tofo Beach region is somewhat trickier to reach. The tiny Inhambane Airport services it, but flights are less frequent and only connect internationally through Maputo and Vilanculos.
Credit: Travessia Lodge
Driving in takes about seven or eight hours from Maputo, which may be a trial with traffic and poor roads. Once there, however, it’s a great place for families. There are some excellent, affordable self-catering cottages and the chance to snorkel with whale sharks.
Just be aware that the waves here can be bigger than in Vilanculos, and ocean swimming is more suited to teens than young kids.
In the far south of Mozambique lies Ponta do Ouro, undoubtedly Mozambique’s most popular family holiday town. A newly sealed road has now made Ponta much more accessible and what was once a hot and dusty 4×4-only journey is now an easy hour-and-a-half drive from Maputo.
Ponta is safe, easygoing, and loads of fun for kids. There are introductory diving courses for the older ones, plus swimming, snorkeling, and a stunning, wide beach.
Exploring the ocean as a family is one of Mozambique’s major highlights. This beautiful, warm coastline offers incredible marine life. Kids as young as ten can already learn to dive; after a four-day course, ten and 11-year-olds can be certified to 12 meters.
You’ll need to check that the area you’re visiting has suitable shallow reefs, but 12 meters is more than enough to discover the enthralling world underwater.
You’ll find turtles, dolphins, and thousands of reef fish, and with knowledgeable instructors and so much to learn, it’s an education for the whole family.
Above the waves, it’s all about dhow rides and speedboats and learning to fish from the beach in Mozambique.
Mozambique’s highlights are sea and beach orientated, including the culinary delights – this coast is famous for its fish! But if your kids don’t like seafood, there’s no reason to worry.
You’ll find plenty of kid-friendly restaurants in Mozambique and no shortage of classic favorites such as pizza, burgers, and chips.
If you’re traveling through South Africa to Mozambique, you’ll need an unabridged birth certificate for each child younger than 18. It needs to show the full name of the child, as on their passport, and the full names of both parents.
If one or other parent is traveling alone, then you’ll need written consent from the absent parent. It’s all a bit of a hassle, but it’s aimed at curbing child trafficking – a worthy concern that the authorities take seriously.
Another concern is the risk of malaria – be sure to consult a doctor before you travel. June to September are the months with the lowest risk, but at any time of the year, it’s worth taking your own mosquito nets and packing a roll of duct tape to repair any holes.
Mozambique is the very vision of romance, with its endless, empty beaches, swaying palms, and turquoise sea. But what makes the country particularly special is the quality and variety of the romantic honeymoon experiences.
From private beach huts to serviced villas and secluded island retreats to polished luxury hotels, it’s all idyllic.
Credit: Azura Benguerra Island
Whether you’re planning your honeymoon or plotting a more impulsive escape, you’ll find your postcard-perfect paradise in Mozambique, whatever your taste or budget.
Best places to visit in Mozambique
One of Mozambique’s major draws is that a few bustling beach towns aside, it remains largely undeveloped and unexplored.
The kind of intimacy and exclusivity you might only expect on a private island can also be found on a quiet mainland beach, especially in the south of Mozambique.
The southern coastline from Ponta do Ouro to Inhaca Island is one of the most beautiful and untouched in Mozambique. Ponta do Ouro itself can be a bit rowdy for romance, but as you head north up the coast, the mood rapidly changes.
Scattered along the deserted beaches, you’ll find a handful of intimate lodges tucked between the ocean and the stunning Maputo Special Reserve.
The reserve protects not just miles of untrammeled beach but a glorious stretch of inland lakes and forest, home to elephants, hippos, and hundreds of species of birds.
Some 500km (311mi) north of Inhaca Island, the Bazaruto Archipelago also lies within a protected park. These glorious islands are perfect for couples searching for an even more exclusive romantic break.
There are only a handful of lodges across the archipelago’s five islands, all world-class, luxurious, and ideal for couples.
Credit: Nkwichi Lodge
Think castaway picnics on dazzling white sandbars, candle-lit beach dinners, treatments, and spas. The waters off Bazaruto are known for spectacular diving, and if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s lots more to do than simply stretch out on the beach.
Besides diving and snorkeling, there’s also sea kayaking and sunset dhow cruises, while on land, there’s horse riding, dune boarding, and island tours.
In the far north of Mozambique, the magnificent Quirimbas Archipelago is the most isolated and arguably the most beautiful region in the country. This is the realm of stunning private islands, luxury fly-in resorts, and spectacular honeymoon escapes.
If you’ve ever dreamed of a four-poster bed on the beach, then the Quirimbas islands are for you. Or perhaps you’d prefer to explore palm-fringed atolls on a guided island-hopping safari in your own private dhow?
A Quirimbas Archipelago dhow safari is one of Mozambique’s major highlights for adventurous couples’ honeymoon.
Explore the islands with an experienced skipper and personal chef, picnicking on empty sandbars and sleeping in mobile beach camps under the stars.
For more traditional resort-style pampering, you’ll find top-notch romantic lodges, and secluded honeymoon retreats up and down the coast. And if a week-long boating safari seems a little excessive, you can easily take a day trip or a sunset dhow cruise instead.
Credit: Azura Benguerra Island
Many of Mozambique’s lodges and resorts also have a strong sustainability and conservation ethos. There’s a real emphasis on low-impact tourism, wildlife protection, and community development.
Whether you’re on an island-hopping safari or ensconced at a stunning beach lodge, there’ll be opportunities for bird-watching holidays, learning about key wildlife projects in the area, and meeting and interacting with the local community.
Mozambique is perhaps the least conservative country in East Africa. Affection in public is generally not an issue, although topless bathing is not the norm and will almost certainly be frowned upon. Same-sex relationships have been legal in Mozambique since 2015.
Mozambique is an excellent choice for honeymooners and romance, whether you’re looking for all-inclusive pampering, adventure, or barefoot luxury. Resorts and lodges in Mozambique are fully aware of what they can offer romantic couples – let them know in advance, and they’ll happily tailor an experience just for you!
If you’re thinking of visiting Mozambique on your own, don’t let anything dissuade you. It’s a friendly, safe choice for solo travel and can be as adventurous or laid-back as you like.
Those looking for solitude will find endless empty beaches, ideal for long, peaceful strolls. If you’d like to meet people, there are lively beach towns with restaurants, group tours, and buzzing barefoot bars.
It’s not advisable to leave valuables unattended while swimming or wander Maputo’s backstreets alone after dark. But these are the kinds of precautions you’d take almost anywhere, and infrequent petty theft aside, Mozambique is a very safe country to visit.
Credit: andBeyond Benguerra Island
Mozambicans have a well-earned reputation for being easy-going and friendly. The seafood is delicious and affordable, and there’s a fascinating history and an incredible underwater world to explore.
Best places to visit in Mozambique
Credit: Financial Times
Perhaps Mozambique’s only drawback is that it can be challenging to get around. Public transport does exist, but it’s often bumpy and slow and can be challenging to figure out. The more exclusive resorts offer a seamless fly-in service, especially on the islands.
But if you’re a solo traveler, and in particular, if you’re on a budget, then bear this in mind.
The far north of Mozambique is the hardest to reach, involving relatively expensive internal flights, long, bumpy roads, or quite often, both.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll discover Mozambique’s rich cultural past – the evocative, deserted mansions of Ibo Island and the 16th-century Portuguese fort and chapel on the tip of Ilha de Moçambique.
Traveling in the south is much easier than in the north. There are direct flights to Vilanculos from Maputo and Johannesburg, and busses and/or backpacker shuttles between Maputo, Vilanculos, Tofo, and Ponta do Ouro.
These main centers are the most popular destinations for solo travelers; many visitors pick just one or two spots and stick to them. Your choice will depend on ease of access and time of year, and especially on the key activities available in the area.
If you’re looking to meet people, then Vilanculos and Tofo Beach are best for your solo Mozambique holiday. They’re at their most lively over Christmas and Easter and again from the end of June to September.
June to September sees the best beach weather, and the far south usually has it better early in the season (May/June). Further north, it tends to be hotter and drier in October, and, in the far north, it usually stays hot and dry well into November.
The weather is often a secondary consideration when it comes to Mozambique’s marine attractions. Snorkeling and diving with whale sharks are mind-blowing; although they can be seen year-round, October to March is best.
Another marine giant, the humpback whale, is common off the coast of Mozambique from July to mid-November. So, while October and November can be increasingly humid and cloudy in the south, it’s the perfect time to see Mozambique’s magnificent marine giants.
Turtles, dolphins, reef sharks, and manta rays can be seen along the coast year-round. But specific local areas may have subtle seasonal variations, so check with a local dive operator before you travel.
If you’re not a diver already, this is the time to learn! Mozambique has several excellent dive schools, and they’re a great way to socialize and meet new people on a solo safari.
Be aware that outside of the main resorts, English is not widely spoken. A Portuguese phrase book or app on your phone will go a long way to easing communication.
Credit cards (preferably Visa) are accepted at most resorts and hotels, but you’ll almost certainly need cash for smaller enterprises and local transport. In Ponta do Ouro, South African Rands are readily accepted, but the best option is to draw local currency (Meticals) from an ATM when you arrive. ATMs are common in all the main centers (although Tofo is a notable exception – the nearest one is in Inhambane).
Mozambique is generally considered a safe country for women traveling alone. Dress codes and attitudes are less conservative than in other East African countries, and homosexuality has been legal since 2015.
Once the darling holiday destination of Southern Africa, Mozambique has suffered turbulence and tragedy in its recent past. It’s perhaps too much to say it was the ‘Algarve of East Africa’, but its unique, vibrant blend of sun, sea, and Afro-Portuguese heritage attracted hundreds of thousands in the years before the war.
Although the struggle for independence from Portugal began in the early 1960s, it was not until civil war broke out in ‘75 that all tourism effectively ceased. Lodges closed, resorts fell to ruin, and millions of people were killed or displaced.
When the war ended in 1992, there was little infrastructure and no tourism. But as stability returned, so did an adventurous few, braving the rough roads and uncertain, often dilapidated lodgings.
What the war could not destroy was arguably the most beautiful stretch of golden coastline in Africa.
The lack of development simply added to the charm. Those who came found a country looking forward to the future, a laid-back seaside paradise of sun, surf, and phenomenal seafood.
In the years since the war, Mozambique’s shores have been battered by storms, but the upbeat outlook and easy-going charm remain. The roads are now much better, and the quality and variety of lodges and resorts have vastly improved, but this magnificent coastline still feels wonderfully new and untamed.
Mozambique’s two main island archipelagos, Bazaruto and the Quirimbas are among the best in the world for ‘barefoot luxury’ breaks. Scattered up and down the mainland beaches, you’ll find high-quality, affordable lodges, secluded villas, and attractive family hotels.
Though development is ongoing, the pace is slow and measured, and one of Mozambique’s major draws remains its wide-open views and lack of crowds. Although the far south can get busy over Christmas and Easter, you’ll likely have entire beaches to yourself for the rest of the year.
The north of Mozambique is harder to reach and quieter still, and inland the wildlife parks see only a trickle of adventurous guests.
Most visitors still come specifically for the beaches, and with over 2,500km (1,553mi) of stunning coastline, there’s no shortage of room to stretch your legs.
Credit: Travessia Beach Lodge
In a sense, Mozambique’s troubled past makes it such a unique destination today. It’s been over 25 years since the end of the war, yet it remains relatively undeveloped and, in many places, pristine.
With its unique cultural blend, great food, and sublime seas, Mozambique has a strong claim on the best beach holiday in Africa.
Most visitors, quite rightly, come to Mozambique for a beach holiday. There are hundreds of dive and snorkeling sites along this quite extraordinary coast. And besides the abundant reef fish and spectacular coral, there are also the glorious marine giants.
The soft-shelled leatherback turtle grows to over two-and-a-half meters long, and the beach town of Tofo is famous for its whale shark snorkeling and dives with manta rays.
Humpback whales can even be seen breaching from shore as they pass down the coast between June and December.
Away from the sea, the wildlife is less prolific; Mozambique’s parks and reserves suffered extensive poaching throughout the war. To some extent, the problem of poaching continues, but two reserves, in particular, are showing hopeful signs.
Gorongosa National Park was once one of the top safari parks in Africa, and although populations are still recovering, lions, elephants, and numerous antelope species can be found.
In the far south of Mozambique, the Maputo Special Reserve protects some of Mozambique’s most pristine lakes and beaches, and there’s a small but visible elephant population that calls the reserve home.
Both of these parks, and Mozambique as a whole, are truly wonderful if you like birding safaris. Pack your binoculars to see some of Mozambique’s 750 or more species – that’s 50 more species than across all of mainland Europe!