Nestled in between South Africa and Tanzania on the east coast of the African continent, Mozambique sees far fewer visitors than its famous neighbors. However, with a coastline that stretches for over 1,500 miles, it is a destination like no other for beach lovers in the know. In some places the swathes of white or golden sand are semi-deserted, allowing you to snorkel, swim, and sunbathe in peace. In the livelier spots, you can embrace the laid-back pace of local life as you watch fishermen bringing their catch in on wooden dhows and women in colorful skirts searching for supper in the shallows. Our list of the best beaches in Mozambique includes everything from mainland spots known for their barefoot nightlife to Robinson Crusoe-style private islands.
Ponta do Ouro
Located just 15 minutes from the South African border at Kosi Bay, the town of Ponta do Ouro is the most convenient option for those wanting to visit both countries. When you get there, a golden ribbon of sand set between causarina-covered dunes and the warm blue waters of the Indian Ocean awaits. Ponta do Ouro is known as a hotspot for surfers, fishermen, and scuba divers with spectacular reef sites including the legendary shark diving spot, the Pinnacles.
If sharks are a little too intimidating, go swimming with the bay’s wild dolphin population instead. In summer (October to December) turtles come ashore to lay their eggs while the winter months see humpback whales passing close to shore on their annual migration. Ponta is also known for its lively atmosphere, with a colorful open-air market and plenty of beachfront bars and restaurants. Don’t miss out on the chance to relax with an R&R, the local tipple made from Tipo Tinto rum and the Sparletta Sparberry soft drink.
Ponta Mamoli may be just 11 miles north of Ponta do Ouro, but the two beach destinations could not be more different. Set on a secluded peninsula and part of Mozambique’s Lagoon Coast, Ponta Mamoli stands out for its wild, unspoiled beauty. You won’t find beach vendors and bars full of South African holidaymakers here. There is no light pollution to dilute the splendor of the night sky and the only sound is the sigh of the sea as it crashes upon miles of perfect sand.
Ponta Mamoli is synonymous with White Pearl Resorts. Tucked into a sheltered bay, this 5-star accommodation option comprises 22 infinitely luxurious villas, raised on stilts amidst the beachfront dunes. There are many ways to spend your days here. Embark on a scuba diving adventure, ride horses along the seashore, or indulge in an open-air spa treatment. In the unlikely event that you tire of the beach, the game-filled Maputo Special Reserve is a short drive away.
Inhaca Island is located just 24 miles across the bay from Maputo but despite its proximity to civilization, it feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of the Mozambican capital. The island is a tangle of dune forests and mangrove thickets, ringed by several beautiful beaches and some of the most southerly coral reefs in Africa. For a taste of local culture, head to the beach directly in front of Inhaca village, where you can settle in to watch the locals going about their business.
There are also more secluded stretches of sand on both the east and west coasts. Inhaca is home to a respected Marine Biology Station and is partially designated as a marine reserve. This has allowed aquatic and terrestrial life to flourish, which you will experience while scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and cruising to nearby Portuguese Island. In particular, Inhaca is a top destination for birders with more than 300 recorded species. Accommodation ranges from self-catering chalets to luxury lodges.
Tofo Beach is another mainland favorite for holidaymakers in search of laid-back tropical living. Located approximately half an hour’s drive from Inhambane town in southern Mozambique, it combines world-class diving and surfing with sun-drenched beaches and a vibrant nightlife scene. The main beach is a thick swathe of golden sand, conveniently located just steps from bars with balconies perfect for sipping icy 2M or Laurentina beers in the sun.
Tofinho Point, at the southern end of the beach, is a well-known right-hand reef break beloved by surfers; while coral reefs situated just offshore offer some of the best diving in Southern Africa. Don’t know how to surf or scuba dive yet? There are plenty of surf schools and dive charters to choose from to help you learn. You don’t have to be a qualified diver to meet Tofo’s most famous residents, however. Snorkeling safaris operate all year round, giving tourists the chance to swim with giant (yet harmless) whale sharks.
The private island of Magaruque is located almost directly offshore from Vilanculos town. It is the third-largest of six islands that make up the Bazuruto Archipelago, with wide stretches of white sand encircling it on all sides. There are two ways to visit: you can embark on a dhow sailing trip from the mainland or one of the other islands and spend the day lounging seaside, or you can splurge on a stay at the island’s only luxury lodge. The latter means you’ll have the beaches all to yourself once the day-trippers depart.
The lodge is located on the west coast in front of a deep water channel that provides access to excellent snorkeling, diving, and deep-sea fishing. The entire archipelago was designated as a national park in 1971 and it fulfills an important role as a sanctuary for various marine species. These include whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, humpback whales; and most famously, Mozambique’s largest remnant population of threatened dugongs.
A short dhow ride north of Magaruque Island takes you to Benguerra, the second largest of the Bazaruto Archipelago islands. Beautiful Benguerra stands out for its wild, wind-ridged dunes, crocodile-inhabited freshwater lakes, and picture-perfect white sand beaches. Offshore, a 2-mile coral reef promises world-class snorkeling and scuba diving; while 140 recorded bird species make this one of the best island birding destinations in Southern Africa. Add Bazaruto’s rare dugong population, and you have a bona fide nature lover’s paradise.
With a choice of luxury lodges, Benguerra Island has become a favorite destination for beach-obsessed honeymooners. Amongst them is the truly dreamy andBeyond Benguerra Island, whose cabana and casinha accommodation options come with their own private deck and rim-flow pool. Activities at this stunning 5-star lodge range from scuba diving to castaway beach picnics and sunset dhow cruises. You can even ride bareback along the beach and take your horse for a swim in the sea.
The port city of Pemba in northern Mozambique is the capital of Cabo Delgado Province and the jumping-off point for the famed Quirimbas Archipelago. Before departing for the islands, however, it’s well worth spending an afternoon or two on the city’s beautiful Wimbe Beach. This palm-fringed expanse of golden sand is not only worthy of any “wish you were here” postcard, it’s a great place to sit back and soak up the rhythms of local life.
Thatched restaurants line the sand and specialize in fresh seafood and Portuguese-style peri-peri chicken. Wash your meal down with a cool 2M or Laurentina lager, then take a stroll down to the water’s edge to watch fishermen offloading their catch from colorful wooden dhows. Vendors selling souvenirs are common, but if you don’t want to purchase their wares, simply refuse firmly and politely and continue on your way. There are several hotels to choose from if you want to extend your stay on Wimbe Beach.
If you like the idea of a private island with four splendid beaches and only a handful of other adventurers to share them with, Quilalea Island could be the destination for you. One of the southernmost islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago, access is exclusively reserved for guests at Azura Quilalea lodge, which has just nine beachfront villas. All four beaches channel Robinson Crusoe-style seclusion, while the lodge itself has mastered the art of barefoot luxury.
Getting to the island involves a half-hour helicopter flight from Pemba on the mainland. Once you arrive, it’s up to you how you spend your days. Discover a more laidback pace of life with afternoons spent lounging at the beach; or explore the island’s house reef on a scuba diving or snorkeling excursion. Underwater sightings include three species of turtle and giant humphead wrasse. Other activities range from deep sea fishing to mangrove kayaking trips and hikes to see the giant baobab trees of the island’s interior.
Often touted as one of the most romantic destinations in the Quirimbas, Medjumbe is a tiny private island located roughly in the middle of the archipelago. It’s wonderfully remote, only accessed via air transfer from Pemba. As you begin the descent towards Medjumbe, you’ll be greeted by the unforgettable sight of a spit of pure white sand reaching out across the swirling turquoise and deep blue canvas of the Indian Ocean.
The entire island is surrounded by expanses of deserted sand, which you’ll share with nesting sea turtles in season. Otherwise, the only visitors are guests of Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort. Life at the resort revolves around the beach, with couples massage treatments offered at a beachfront spa villa and private meals for two hosted on the seashore. Each of the 12 villas has its own direct beach access and private plunge pool, while water-based activities include everything from diving and sailing to deep-sea fishing and whale watching.
If budget is no object, Vamizi Island in the far north of the Quirimbas Archipelago offers some of the best beaches in the country. Located close to the Tanzanian border, this off-the-beaten-track destination is a conservation success story. Here, teeming mangrove forests rub shoulders with powder-soft, white sand beaches; which in turn give way to coral reefs with 180 different kinds of coral and more than 400 tropical fish species.
The island is privately owned by luxury safari company andBeyond, which has built a series of idyllic villas with multiple bedrooms and private staff. Ideal for family reunions, these villas welcome children of all ages. While the adults enjoy a scuba diving adventure or deep sea fishing trip, the children can discover the island and learn about its natural inhabitants through andBeyond’s rewarding Wild Child program. Note that at the time of writing, operations on Vamizi had been temporarily suspended due to political unrest in northern Mozambique.