Family holiday in Mozambique
Mozambique has long been a family holiday favourite with South Africans and over Christmas and Easter in particular, the wide, 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 day care.
Credit: Santorini Mozambique
You’ll need something of an adventurous spirit, especially if you have very young children. Road transfers can be long and bumpy and there’s a high incidence of malaria throughout Mozambique. While travelling to Mozambique with very young kids is not impossible, it might be better all round to wait until they’re a little older. There’s more effective anti-malarial medication for older kids and teens, and once they reach 10 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 are in and around Ponta do Ouro, Tofo Beach and Vilanculo. Of the three, Vilanculo is the most accessible, with its international airport and regular flights from Johannesburg and Maputo. Family activities from Vilanculo include speed-boat trips, dhow rides, shallow dive sites and safe swimming. A snorkelling trip and picnic to one of Bazaruto’s sheltered beaches is an unforgettable experience for kids of all ages.
Further south, the Tofo Beach region is somewhat trickier to reach. It’s serviced by the tiny Inhambane Airport, but flights are less frequent and only connect internationally through Maputo and Vilanculo. If you’re driving in, it 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 Vilanculo, and ocean swimming is more suited to teens than young kids.
Credit: Travessia Lodge
In the far south of Mozambique, lies Ponta do Ouro, undoubtedly Mozambique’s most popular family holiday town. A new sealed road has now made Ponta much more accessible and what was once a hot and dusty 4x4-only journey, is now an easy hour-and-a-half drive from Maputo. Ponta is safe and easy going and loads of fun for kids. There are introductory diving courses for the older ones, plus swimming and snorkelling 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 10 years old can already learn to dive and after a four-day course 10 and 11 year olds can be certified to 12 metres. You’ll need to check that the area you’re visiting has suitable shallow reefs, but 12 metres is more than enough to discover the enthralling world underwater. You’ll find turtles and 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. Mozambique’s highlights are very sea and beach orientated, including the culinary – 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 and no shortage of classic favourites such as pizza and burgers and chips.
If you’re travelling 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, as well as the full names of both parents. If one or other parent is travelling 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 pack a roll of duct tape to repair any holes.