If you want to go surfing Mozambique, here are a few tips and pictures if you want to explore it on your own and on a budget.
Surfing Mozambique and the country in general
Mozambique is South Africa’s Northern neighbor on the east coast, and south of Tanzania. This means it lays in the Indian Ocean and has warm water all year round. It has a relatively long coastline, but only the south gets all the good swells, as the north is blocked by Madagascar.
Mozambique was a colony of Portugal, and Portuguese is still the most spoken language. Not many people speak English, so it is better to learn a few words. They fought a decade-long independence war, and once the Portuguese were gone, another fifteen years of civil war followed. This left Mozambique littered with land mines.
But things are changing now, most of the mines are gone, and the smiles are back in the peoples’ faces. The locals are incredibly friendly, and if they can sell you a fresh fish, or a bag of cashew nuts, they’re even happier.
Maputo is the capital city of Mozambique, and not far from the border of South Africa. If you fly to Johannesburg and take a rental car, you pass Kruger National Park and spend a few days. The cheapest way to do it, is to stay in a hotel outside the park, wake up early, and drive in as soon as they open the gates in the morning.
Maputo, with its 1.2 million inhabitants is an interesting city. You’ll feel the Latin influence in a modern, but still traditional African way.
Just off the coast of Maputo is an island with incredible waves. It’s quite a mission to get there, but once you reach the other side of the island, you’ll find perfect sand bottom waves, and you won’t have to share them with anyone- except sharks.
Surfing Mozambique’s South
If it comes to surfing Mozambique, most of the better-known places are in the far south. And this fame is mostly because of Ponto do Ouro.
Ponto do Ouro is really close to the South African border. This means it’s only a couple of hours drive from Durban. And if a good swell is forecasted, you’ll have a big number of South African surfers here. Especially between Christmas and New Year.
South African surfers might be among the friendliest and most respectful people in the water, while at home. But they often leave their manners and etiquette inside their country! And once surfing Mozambique, they do everything they would never do at home! So don’t be surprised if you want to sleep, but someone is blasting his sound system all night long, or people are driving jet skies up and down the point, and give their friends a ride back to make sure they’re not getting tired from paddling!
However, it is a great place and an amazing wave, and the sharks in the water are usually young and small.
Ponto do Ouro is not the only perfect wave here. If you come prepared with a good four-wheel drive and all the camping equipment, you can make the way up to Maputo along the coast and surf countless perfect waves with no one around. Just make sure you’ve got everything you need. And I’m not talking about the surfing skills, but more the survival gear, enough water, and everything else to spend some time in the middle of Africa. This is the real surfing Mozambique experience!
Surfing Tofo (Inhambane)
Inhambane is the next province north after Gaza. Gaza has only a short coastline, but gets a lot of swell and is waiting for exploration!
But Inhambane is where you want to go for waves, if you drive north of Maputo. It’s the other famous area for surfing in Mozambique. The place where most people go who visit this province, is Tofo and Tofinho (little Tofo). This is one of the best places in the world to go swimming with whale sharks! And the diving is world-class here altogether. You’ll find a great diversity of sea life, dive with huge manta rays and enjoy the reefs, you can find in all kinds of deeps.
One of the shallow reefs is called Tofinho, like the little town where it is. This reef it’s not for scuba diving, but a world-class righthander barrel. Be careful, the reef is sharp and many paid with their own skin after a badly timed rock jump. You can also try to paddle out from the little beach, but usually, the current is too strong. Find a place to jump from along the dry reef (on a lower tide), or jump from the top of the reef. From here, the paddle to the lineup is short and easy, but as I told you…time it right!
Tofo is around a seven-hour driving from Maputo. But if you score Tofinho on a good day, it was not only worth the drive, but also the flight to Mozambique! From wherever you came! Crystal clear, warm water, a perfect barrelling right-hander point, uncrowded, and if you get lucky, a whale shark is swimming past you while you’re out there! This is also one of the areas with fewer sharks than most of the rest of the country.
Fewwer sharks doesn’t mean you’re safe! There is a big swamp behind Tofo, and Malaria is a serious problem in this country!
Tofo is Tofinhos big brother, not wave-wise, but the town. It is still tiny and you better bring what you need. They sell rice, some veggies, pasta and maybe even a cold coke. But they have to import almost everything. This makes things more expensive, and they only have whatever is around. And there is nothing like a supermarket. Of course, you can buy fresh fish here, and they take out everything that swims. The ocean here looks like a fish tank, so your barbecue might be a bit more colorful than usual.
Tofo has a long beach, and some places are great to surf. On the southern end is a good point for longboarding, in the middle is a little jetty, with sometimes good waves, and up the beach are some more places where you’ll have fun. It’s usually a bit bigger if you go up the beach.
Barra is a bit north of Tofo and if you go there on the right day, the wave looks like the Superbank in Australia! Only that there are four hundred people less in the water! There are a few factors that need to come together to make it such a world-class wave. And if those factors are not right, it looks more like a lake, and it’s hard to imagine that on another day, this bay offers rides for a few hundred meters! There are only a couple of times a year when Barra goes really off. And of course, I won’t tell you what you have to look for. This would only spoil all the fun. But you can always invite me for a few beers and your chances are good I’ll tell you eye to eye. And believe me, it is pretty predictable when it will be on!
Surfing Mozambique North
The further north you go, the fewer people are in the water. Not that crowds are a problem here at all. But once you left Inhambane behind, you wish for people to surf with. There are rumors of waves up here, so perfect, you go insane surfing them. I spoke to people who actually did surf some of them, and they couldn’t handle it! They went crazy! Imagine waves better than everything you’ve ever seen in your life! Better than everything you’ve seen in a magazine or a movie. Crystal clear, warm water, and only you and your friends to share them with! It is too perfect to be true, and you’re always waiting for something to go wrong. If nothing goes wrong, and you leave that place behind, you don’t know what to do with it! Share it with the world and tell everyone about it, or keep it a secret for the ones willing to go exploring? Do you quit surfing, as you know it will never be as good again, or are you going back for more, hoping that the sharks are still somewhere else and not interested in you?
I haven’t been up there, haven’t been surfing Mozambique up north. Only crazy stories for people crazy enough to drive up, and find out…
However, do your homework, go there and you might find some of those gems.
I know, no one likes to think about it, but there are many sharks in Mozambique. The scariest one here is called “Zambesi” after the Zambesi river. This is a kind of bull shark, that sometimes swims a couple of Kilometres up a river!
As it is a bull shark, it is territorial. This means if a certain area is “his”, he doesn’t want intruders there, and he might come to let you know. It’s not about him being hungry. It’s just his territory. Maybe he doesn’t come and bite you, but being circled by a shark, or hit, is still not what most people have on their “to-do list”.
But don’t be paranoid! I went surfing Mozambique and I’m still here to tell you the stories! I haven’t seen a single shark, at least not in Mozy. Listen to your guts, don’t surf when the water is murky and maybe not the first and last hour of daylight…
When to come and surf Mozambique
You’ll get waves all year round. But as so often, there are more swells in wintertime. Wintertime means June to August, when the roaring forties are pressing up between Madagascar and Mozambique. But also spring and autumn are still pretty consistent. Actually, there is not really spring or autumn. Wet-season is from October to March, and the dry season the rest of the year. So spring and autumn are when the seasons are changing. The wet season is also the time for cyclones. And cyclones usually bring big and strong swells, but many of the streets become more difficult to drive, and a good car is crucial. So depending on your vehicle and how much adventure you want, you have to decide what time of the year. Wet season, flooded streets, and a lot of mosquitos?
Surfing Mozambique is great. But not only this. Mozambique is an amazing country, and it is how you expect Africa to be. The more adventurous you are, the more adventure you’ll have. It’s all up to you and how well prepared you come. But come! It is one of those countries you think don’t exist anymore! Perfect waves, warm water, friendly locals, uncrowded world-class waves, and still so much more to explore. And of course… wildlife as you might haven’t seen it before.
If surfing Mozambique interests you, maybe the other side of the continent could be your piece of cake too. Ever thought about surfing in Senegal?