Everything you need to know about your Mozambique holiday
Welcome to Discover Africa’s ultimate Mozambique holiday guide. Mozambique, while one of the more rustic and rural destinations in Southern Africa, offers a plethora of experiences for the traveller who enjoys an off-the-beaten-track experience. Rich cultural history and a coastline that most countries would envy, this destination offers sun, sea and sand on its islands, marine life that is unmatched, and some top class hotels and resorts. Curate your holiday experience and let us do the rest for you. It couldn’t be more easy.
Our Recommended Tour
Blissful Mozambique Honeymoon Holiday (6 days)
This luxury honeymoon will take you to Mozambique’s slice of paradise; Benguerra Island. You’ll stay at an incredible lodge with romance, exclusivity and barefoot luxury as the main themes on this magical escape.
Welcome to Mozambique! …A tropical island paradise awaits you. You’ll land in Vilanculos from Johannesburg and be met by a representative of andBeyond Benguerra Island before being whisked away by helicopter to the island. Don’t miss out on enjoying the incredible views of the Mozambican landscape of sand and sea.
Your next couple of day at Benguerra will be spent at your leisure. …Make the most of your time with exciting and thrilling sea and beach activities.
Activities on the island …There’ll be no want of things to do. Look forward to your choice of:
- Romantic beach picnics
- Coastal horseback riding
- Snorkelling and scuba diving
- Marine life interactions, including dolphins, dugongs, turtles and the gentle whale shark
- Kayaking, SUPing
Activities on the island …There’ll be no want of things to do. Look forward to your choice of:
- Romantic beach picnics
- Coastal horseback riding
- Snorkelling and scuba diving
- Marine life interactions, including dolphins, dugongs, turtles and the gentle whale shark
- Kayaking, SUPing
When to visit Mozambique
- JanuaryJanuary 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. If you’re thinking of visiting Mozambique in January, then the beaches from Ponta do Ouro to Inhaca Island are best. Early January will be busy in Ponta, but the town quietens down by the end of the month. Further north, towards the Machangulo Peninsula, you’ll find a succession of excellent lodges boasting secluded beaches and a distinct lack of crowds. Tofo and Vilanculo 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 Vilanculo 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 snorkelling and diving. There’s also a good chance of seeing nestling turtles along the coast and it’s prime time for whale sharks, especially in Tofo and the waters around Vilanculo and Bazaruto.
- The main disadvantage of January is the weather. It can get very hot and humid and you’ll almost certainly have some rain. Early January can also get very busy along the south coast, especially in Ponta do Ouro, Tofo and Vilanculo. January marks the very end of the humpback whale season and you’re unlikely to see many at this time of year. Gorongosa National Park is also off-limits. It stays closed due to flooding until mid-April.
- FebruaryJanuary 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. February is certainly best in the south. From Vilanculo down, you’ll have sunnier days. It’s a relatively quiet month across Mozambique and a great time 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 important, however, to stress the unpredictability of the season – all along the coast you’ll likely get some rain. Lounging indoors, watching squalls roll off the ocean, can be a wonderful thing 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 is certainly best in the south. From Vilanculo down, you’ll have sunnier days. It’s a relatively quiet month across Mozambique and a great time 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 important, however, to stress the unpredictability of the season – all along the coast you’ll likely get some rain. Lounging indoors, watching squalls roll off the ocean, can be a wonderful thing 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.
- As with January, February’s main disadvantage 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.
- MarchTemperatures 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 the country, it remains peak cyclone season 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 do 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. If you’re visiting Mozambique March, it’s still best to head south, from Vilanculo 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 a number of out-of-the-way guesthouses and villas north and south of Tofo. If bare-foot beach bars and a more social vibe appeals, then take your pick of Vilanculo, Tofo Beach or Ponta do Ouro. Vilanculo 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 the best months for nesting turtles, March is still great for whale sharks in Tofo, and the warm water is ideal for diving and snorkelling all along the coast. If you’re looking for a party then the Easter holidays can be fun, especially in the resort towns of Vilanculo, Tofo and Ponta do Ouro.
- Resorts and lodges fill up quickly over Easter so be sure to make bookings fairly 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 is not good for seeing humpback whales – they only start to arrive in June. And Mozambique’s main safari park, Gorongosa National Park, is closed during the wet season and only reopens in April.
- AprilApril 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 the country 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. On the whole, however, you should see more sun than rain if you stick to the coastal regions in the south. Early April can be busy in the south when the South African schools are on Easter break. Ponta do Ouro, Tofo Beach and Vilanculo 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 oodles of peace and quiet on the fringes. The north of the country 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 around. 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 a good 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 at the beginning of the month, especially in Ponta do Ouro. In the north of Mozambique there’s still a high chance of storms and even in the south you may get unlucky with late rain and overcast weather.
- MayMay 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, and seldom less than 20°C (68°F). Although the end of the rainy season varies greatly 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 the country. 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 a great 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, take their own holidays in May and some sea-based activities might therefore be limited in certain areas.
- JuneJune marks the start of Mozambique’s cooler, drier winter season, strewn 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. All along Mozambique’s coast you can expect clear, blues skies and the occasional wisp of cloud. 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.
- JulyJuly is warm and pleasant all across Mozambique. 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 north-eastern 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 localised brief shower, there’s little chance of rain anywhere in the country. July is a good 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 Vilanculo. The first two weeks of July are usually slightly busier along the coast – until the school holidays end in neighbouring South Africa. Both of Mozambique’s beautiful archipelagos are truly superb throughout July. The northern Quirimbas will be slightly warmer than Bazaruto, but both offer clear skies and great conditions for snorkelling, boat tours and diving.
- By July, Mozambique’s humpback whales can be seen from the Quirimbas to Ponta do Ouro. Tofo and Vilanculo/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 best diving and snorkelling conditions of the year.
- 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 – rather delay until October or November.
- AugustAugust 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 Mozambique’s driest months, though there may still be a shower or two, especially in the south. Away from the coast, it almost never rains and the temperature range is more extreme. Expect nigh-time 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, then really the entire coastline is ideal. It’ll be slightly hotter in the far north of the country, but expect beautiful, balmy days wherever you go.
- 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 birdlife, and the elephant and lion populations have been consistently increasing since the war. Mount Gorongosa is one of the world’s last uncharted wildernesses, with numerous endemic species, some brand new to science. Up and down the coast, August is prime time for humpback whales, and it’s one of the best months of the year for diving and snorkelling. Across the country the weather is superb – it’s arguably the best month to hit the beach. 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 wonderful giants are on your bucket list, then October onwards is better. Otherwise there’s very little downside to August, except that being such a great time to visit, it will be slightly busier.
- SeptemberSeptember 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 the country, but along the southern coast the clouds start building and there may be the occasional, brief spring storm. As the month goes on you can expect more partly-cloudy beach days in the south, and a freshening breeze – it’s the windiest month in Maputo. Pemba and the Quirimbas are postcard perfect in September. You’ll have hot, sunny days with bright blue skies and fluffy clouds. In Vilanculo, 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 is hardly to be avoided in September. It’s still great beach weather, and the diving and snorkelling conditions are usually excellent. This is also a good time of year 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 blustery days.
- OctoberThroughout October the heat gradually builds and there’s an ever-increasing chance of thunderstorms in the south. The southern coast averages around 29°C (84°F) although some days can get considerably hotter. The north-eastern 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, Mozambique holds its breath for the first summer rains. For the best beach weather, head north in October. Pemba and the Quirimbas are excellent at this time of year. Vilanculo and the Bazaruto Archipelago are also good to visit October, with fewer cloudy days than in Tofo and the south. By late October there is some rain in Ponta do Ouro, as well as 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. To the north and inland, Gorongosa National Park is sweltering. It’s arguably the best time for seeing wild animals 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, in particular 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 snorkelling along the coast. October remains a great 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 to visit Mozambique, 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.
- NovemberMozambique’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, 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. Along the north-eastern coastline this is the hottest time of year and it’s usually the last area in the county to receive any rain. Pemba and the Quirimbas Archipelago are the driest regions 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. The diving and fishing can be excellent in Vilanculo and the Bazaruto Islands, for example, but rough conditions may hamper activities some days. Similarly, in Tofo, with the whale sharks returning, there’s every reason to visit, despite the chance of choppy seas and rain. All down the coast you’ll find hot, humid conditions – 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 good time to risk uncertain weather for top marine activities, such as snorkelling with whale sharks, deep-sea angling and shark diving.
If your time in Mozambique is short, then the summer months do present a risk. Rough seas can disrupt dive activities and although it rarely lasts long, you may miss out. The heat and humidity is also not for everyone. If you prefer cooler (drier) weather, then June to September are better.
- DecemberMozambique’s summer rainy season begins in earnest in December. The south of the country 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, the biggest 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. 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. Vilanculo and the Bazaruto Islands are well-known for all of 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 great for whale sharks, reef sharks and manta rays.
Generally speaking, December is a risk if your time is short – there’s always a chance you’ll hit a succession of rained out days. It may mean that boat dives are not possible for a period, or that underwater visibility is poor for the duration of your stay. For land-based safaris December is also not ideal. Gorongosa National Park usually closes mid-month, when flooding makes the roads too waterlogged to drive.
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 it’s 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 to speak of. 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 remains. 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, for the rest of the year you’ll likely have entire beaches to yourself. The north of the country 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 of stunning coastline to choose from, there’s no shortage of room to stretch your legs.
In a sense, it’s Mozambique’s troubled past that 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.
Animals and marine life
Most visitors, quite rightly, come to Mozambique for the sea. There are hundreds of dive and snorkelling 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 metres long and the beach town of Tofo is famous for its whale shark snorkelling 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, lion, elephant and numerous antelope species can be found. In the far south, 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 have a soft spot for birds. Pack your binoculars to see some of Mozambique’s 750 or more species – that’s 50 more species than across all of mainland Europe!