Where Seychelles, Mauritius and Zanzibar tend to be the favourites for tropical island holidays in Africa, Mozambique is the hidden gem, rapidly growing in popularity among travellers due to the year-round good weather, lush greenery, world-class beaches, delicious food, and fascinating culture.
Over 2,500 kilometres (1,553 miles) of unspoilt coastline dotted with pristine beaches makes Mozambique an ideal destination to enjoy secluded barefoot luxury at its best. It’s also home to some of the best dive sites and big game fishing in the world, as well as over 1,200 species of marine creatures, including the rare, vulnerable Dugong.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect beach destination to combine with your safari adventure in Southern Africa, consider this sublime beach destination – our ultimate Mozambique travel guide tells you everything you need to know:
Why Go to Mozambique
Mozambique is one of Africa’s best-kept secrets. This beautiful Southern African country is often overlooked due to its proximity to high-profile destinations like South Africa and Tanzania. Yet, it boasts one of the world’s longest coastlines, fresh delicious seafood, world-class diving conditions, pristine beaches, and warm, azure waters. In short, Mozambique is a tropical paradise that also happens to be more affordable than Seychelles and sees fewer visitors than Mauritius – leaving you with postcard-perfect islands virtually all to yourself.
Comprising the mainland and two clusters of appealing island destinations: the Bazaruto Archipelago and the Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique is fast becoming the place in Africa for classic tropical island vacations. Pair this lovely holiday spot with some of Southern Africa’s top safari destinations to get the best of both worlds – bush and beach. Enjoy a quintessential safari adventure in the Kruger National Park, Madikwe Game Reserve, or the highly underrated Phinda Game Reserve before jetting off to neighbouring Mozambique for a spell of barefoot luxury in paradise.
The cherry on top of this hidden gem is its incredible beach lodges that sit right at the ocean’s edge, each boasting its own unique character and charm to suit any type of traveller. Accommodations on Mozambique’s islands are particularly suited for romantic getaways and honeymoons, providing unparalleled romance in an exclusive and private setting.
But a Mozambique holiday isn’t only about lazing on soft, sandy beaches – there’s plenty to see and do in this gorgeous destination. The Indian Ocean makes for the perfect playground, with the richly coloured coral reefs ripe for being explored on scuba diving trips, and the clear waters great for big game fishing, boating, and snorkelling. Back on the mainland, Mozambique’s flagship park, Gorongosa National Park, is beautiful and diverse, offering off-the-beaten-track safaris in a rapidly recovering big game destination.
What Are the Best Places to Visit and Things to Do in Mozambique?
A Relaxing Break with An African Twist: Bazaruto Archipelago
Off the southern shores of Mozambique sits an idyllic cluster of five tropical islands known as the Bazaruto Archipelago, with Benguerra and Bazaruto being the two largest in the collection.
Both Benguerra Island and Bazaruto Island resemble what most people picture paradise to look like. Golden beaches fringe the shores, bordered by an impossibly blue sea. Barefoot luxury is the standard, with high-end, stylish accommodation catering to your every want and need. And no two days are the same with a near-endless number of activities to fill your schedule, whether it be catching a tan on the soft sandy beach or diving and snorkelling in the warm Indian Ocean.
Bazaruto Island is home to Bazaruto National Park, a sanctuary created to protect the local marine life. It is also the location of Two Mile Reef – a world-renowned scuba diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing destination, where giant trevally, marlin and sailfish are reeled in regularly.
The cherry on top is that this gorgeous archipelago is the perfect addition to a South African safari itinerary – making for the perfect bush and beach combination. After seeing the sights in Cape Town and spotting the Big 5 in the Kruger, hop on a flight from Johannesburg to round off your trip with some much-needed rest and relaxation.
A Private Island Escape in the Indian Ocean: Quirimbas Archipelago
Once a relatively unknown corner of the world, Quirimbas Archipelago is now rapidly becoming one of Africa’s most popular beach destinations. The remote location, year-round tropical weather, crystal clear water, rich marine life and luxury accommodation all melt together to create an island paradise.
The small private islands of Vamizi, Quilalea and Medjumbe are dotted with coconut palms and lined with powder-white beaches. Add to that a wide range of exciting activities, from scuba diving to dhow cruises, and you have the perfect vacation.
Quirimbas collection of stunning islands is the ideal end to a thrilling safari in East Africa, with convenient flights from top destinations making the archipelago easily accessible. After seeing the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti or Masai Mara, recharge your batteries in this heavenly.
The Land of Seafood and Spices: Maputo
The vibrant city of Maputo stands as Mozambique’s capital, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the country’s rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, complex history, and interesting customs. Being an urban landscape, Maputo is filled with numerous restaurants, markets, and hotels, as well as a bustling nightlife. After a day of sightseeing, you can grab a drink and some peri-peri-prawns before heading to a bar or disco for the night on the town.
Great Diving Off a Coastal Town: Vilanculos
Vilanculos might be the gateway to the Bazaruto Archipelago, but this charming coastal town is a great vacation destination in its own right. Pretty luxury lodges are set right on the beach, while the town offers a smorgasbord of local restaurants serving delicious local meals, as well as the nearby Bazaruto Marine Park – a fantastic destination for diving and snorkelling safaris.
The pristine beaches that line Vilanculos’s coastline are superb for horse riding and walking the guided trails, while the tranquil waters are great for traditional dhow (local sailing boat) cruises. And, of course, spotting the resident marine life should be at the top of your list when in Vilanculos. Keep an eye out for manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, and humpback whales – and if you’re really lucky, you’ll have the one-of-a-kind opportunity to see the rare Dugong.
Spotting Manta Rays and Swimming with Whale Sharks in Manta Reef: Inhambane
Inhambane is a beautiful city steeped in history and flanked by coconut palms and magnificent beaches. It is also one of the few remaining places where the last remaining Dugongs can be seen. The city is well-known for its fantastic diving and surfing, as well as reliable sightings of manta rays and whale sharks (in season). If seeing whale sharks isn’t enough for you, then take it a step further by climbing into the water and having a swim with them.
When Should You Go to Mozambique?
The best time to visit Mozambique depends on where you want to go and what you want to do. This idyllic coastal country has so much to offer, from incredible water-based activities to some unexpected treasures, like game viewing and birding. However, as the saying goes: ‘you can’t have too much of a good thing’. Many of Mozambique’s most popular attractions and experiences take place during different times of the year, with little overlap. Here are the best times to enjoy Mozambique:
Best Time for Safari
It’s a little-known fact that you can enjoy an authentic safari experience when in Mozambique. The country is known for its stunning beaches and sublime islands, but those in the know are privy to the game viewing in Gorongosa National Park. After a successful rehabilitation programme, Mozambique’s flagship national park has become a biodiversity hotspot. Grassy floodplains, wetlands, acacia-dotted grasslands, and an isolated mountain covered in rainforest make up the park’s rich, wild tapestry.
Gorongosa might not yet be at the level of the Kruger, Serengeti or Masai Mara, but it’s well on its way, with game viewing at the national park improving rapidly with each passing year. During the dry season, from August to September, Mozambique receives little to no rainfall. Water sources dry up, leaving few options available to the resident wildlife. Buffalos, elephants, lions, and wild dogs all gather around these precious remaining water sources, making for excellent game viewing. However, if you find yourself in Mozambique during the green season, from December to April, you’ll be treated to sightings of newborn young interacting with their surroundings for the first time and excellent birding.
Best Time for Swimming with Whale Sharks and Seeing Nesting Turtles
The best time to visit Bazaruto is from November to March, where you can expect a few magical encounters with Mozambique’s marine life. Over this 5-month period, five different species of turtle make their way to the country’s shoreline to nest, laying their eggs along the coastline. And if your luck is in, you’ll get the chance to see the hatching of the eggs and watch as the hatchlings struggle out the nest and make their way to the water – an overwhelmingly emotional experience.
Find yourself in Mozambique over December. You’ll have the spectacular opportunity to go on a marine safari to spot the giants that dwell in the Indian Ocean, including whale sharks, reef sharks and manta rays. But if spotting them isn’t enough, February and March are great times of the year to jump in the water and snorkel with the friendly whale sharks.
Best Time to Enjoy Mozambique’s Beaches
If your main goal in Mozambique is to enjoy barefoot luxury at its finest, then you’ll want to plan your trip in May. The fifth month of the year is widely regarded as the ideal time to pay a visit to the Southern African country’s coast, visit the many World Heritage Sites located along the shoreline, and take advantage of the incredible tropical weather and pristine beaches.
Best Time for Whale Watching
If you’re in Mozambique to see the gentle giants of the ocean in action, then June to September is your best bet. The humpback whale migration can be viewed first-hand off the coastline from June onwards, but September is a particularly great month for seeing these large mammals.
Best Time for Dhow Trips, Swimming and Birding
November brings in hot, sunny, and humid weather, with a bit of rain sprinkled in here and there. Fortunately, you can escape the heat by cooling off in the ocean (which happens to be the perfect temperature during this time of year). It’s also a great time for traditional dhow trips.
Best Time for Diving
Diving takes place year-round in Mozambique, but the ideal conditions often occur in the winter months, between May and September. During these months, there is less wind, fewer storms, the current is weaker, and the water is clear and tranquil – providing the best conditions for diving and getting up close to the marine species who reside here.
Best Time for Fishing
Like diving, fishing is a year-round activity in Mozambique, with Tuna and King Fish being among the good catches. Surf and night fishing are also good throughout the year. But if you’re in Mozambique for big game fishing and looking to catch marlin, sailfish, and wahoo, then you’ll want to visit during October to January.
Best Time for Birding
Mozambique is home to over 600 species of bird, all of which are best spotted during the months between November and February. This time of year is the country’s green season, with the rainfall attracting many migratory species, including rare species of cuckoo.
|High Season||Low or Green Season|
|Approximately December to March||Approximately April to November|
|Highest rates||Lowest rates|
|Need to book up to a year in advance||No need to book so far in advance|
|Coldest, driest weather||Hottest, wettest weather|
|Easiest to find and see the animals||Harder to find or see animals|
|Not many babies or migrant birds||Lots of babies and birds around|
|Most crowded||Least crowded|
Other Things to Keep in Mind:
- August and September are peak season for Mozambique tourism, with the country seeing its highest volume of visitors during these two months. Game viewing is at its best in Gorongosa National Park, the whale migration can be observed, and the weather is great to enjoy the coast. If you plan to visit Mozambique around this time, we highly recommend booking up to a year in advance to avoid any disappointment.
- If you want to spend Christmas and New Year in Mozambique, you’ll need to book well in advance, as accommodations tend to fill up quickly for the festive season.
- January and February are cyclone season in southern Mozambique, with an all but guaranteed chance of torrential rain. It’s best to avoid the Bazaruto Archipelago during this time.
What Does a Mozambique Vacation Cost?
There is not one definitive cost associated with a Mozambique vacation. The final amount of your trip is dependent on several variables, including the time of year, length of stay, and level of comfort or luxury of accommodation. And since every person has different preferences and expectations for their trip, no two itineraries ever look the same. This is why Go2Africa forgoes the one-package-fits-all approach in favour of liaising with each client individually. By taking the time to get to know you, as well as applying their expertise, our Africa Safari Experts can create a perfect-fit itinerary from scratch.
We can’t give you a conclusive single figure, but we can provide some ballpark rates for hotels and resorts in Mozambique:
|4-star Comfort||4-star Luxury||5-star Luxury|
PLEASE NOTE: The figures above are an average estimate for per person sharing a room, per night. These amounts exclude international flights, visas, and optional activities. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that conservation fees, levies and permits are all subject to change.
Is a Mozambique vacation all-inclusive?
All itineraries crafted by our Africa Safari Experts are all-inclusive to ensure that there are no surprises awaiting you at checkout time. Your accommodation rate will cover meals, most drinks, park fees, game drives, guided walks, and taxes. Our consultants also prefer to book and arrange excursions and activities as part of your itinerary for the same reason.
Naturally, the more flexible your budget, the more options you’ll have available when planning your trip. However, if your budget is modest, there are still plenty of ways of having a great trip – just make sure to communicate openly and honestly with your consultant, so that they can do their best to create an ideal itinerary for you.
Where to Stay: Best Camps and Lodges
How to Plan Your Mozambique Vacation
Planning a trip to Africa is an extensive yet exciting process. But before you start booking flights and reserving accommodation, there are a few things you need to consider before planning your Mozambique vacation:
Is this your first time in Africa or are you a seasoned safari-goer?
If it’s your first time in Africa or on safari, then you’re in for a real treat. There’s so much to do and see across the continent, from the Big 5 in Kruger National Park to the thrilling adventure activities in Victoria Falls. Consider combining Mozambique with some of Southern Africa’s iconic destinations, like Cape Town, Kruger, Victoria Falls or Zimbabwe’s wildlife-rich Hwange National Park.
For the avid visitor to Africa, Mozambique is a great off-the-beaten-path destination to experience some great game viewing in a remote, wild region before enjoying barefoot luxury on an island paradise. A Gorongosa safari and beach vacation in Mozambique offers a more exclusive safari experience in a secluded setting with little to no other people around.
How long should your vacation be?
The length of your Mozambique vacation depends on how many destinations you want to visit. A good guideline is to try to spend at least two to three nights at each destination on your itinerary. This way, you’ll get a well-rounded experience and have a better chance of seeing as many big game and enjoying as many activities as possible. Do keep in mind that the distances between destinations are usually long and most require light aircraft transfers to get from place to place. You’ll want to aim to have as many full days in a destination as possible to fit in more morning and afternoon game drives.
What must be on your vacation itinerary?
Before you begin planning your trip, take some time to nail down any activities, sightings, experiences, or accommodations that are must-sees and must-dos on your itinerary. By having a clear idea of your interests and preferences, your consultant can craft a tailor-made trip that ticks off all or most of your list. Do keep in mind that unless you have unlimited time and deep pockets, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to experience every destination in Mozambique. But by focusing on a select few experiences and activities, you’ll enjoy a safari that satisfies your wants and needs.
When would you like to visit Mozambique?
A good rule of thumb to follow when planning a safari or vacation in Africa is to plan your trip approximately a year in advance. It might sound excessive, but accommodation space is limited and fills up quickly – especially in popular destinations. So, to avoid disappointment, it’s best to start planning well in advance.
Even though Mozambique is a destination that sees fewer visitors than its more high-profile counterparts, it’s still advised to book as far in advance as possible. Yes, you have a bit more breathing room when reserving accommodations and flights, but we urge you to avoid booking a last-minute vacation. If you do, there’s a good chance you won’t get your preferred camps, lodges, or experiences.
Is it easy getting to Mozambique?
From a logistics perspective, getting to Mozambique is fairly easy. When travelling to and from the country, you’ll be using one of three international airports – Maputo, Vilanculos or Pemba. Maputo International Airport is the main gateway to Mozambique, with direct flights coming in from Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Portugal. This is the airport you’ll be using when travelling to any of Mozambique’s destinations based on the mainland.
If you’re travelling to the Bazaruto Archipelago, then Vilanculos International Airport serves as the gateway. With flights from Maputo, Johannesburg, Cape Town or Kruger, this island paradise is easily paired with a big game destination for a Big 5 safari and beach holiday in Southern Africa.
Pemba International Airport is the gateway to the Quirimbas Archipelago. Easily accessible via Maputo, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Quirimbas Islands are the perfect addition to an East African safari to get some well-earned rest and relaxation after a week in the bush.
Can You Eat the food in Mozambique?
There’s no doubt about it – the food in Mozambique is delicious. But everyone has different tastes, tolerances and allergies that need to be considered before visiting a foreign country. The interesting and flavourful cuisine of Mozambique is strongly influenced by the Portuguese, with peri-peri (meaning “spicy-spicy”) accompanying almost all meals. So, expect hot meals to be the standard, as chilli peppers, garlic and lemons are liberally used.
Being a coastal country, it comes as no surprise that Mozambique is known for its seafood dishes. Fresh seafood is delivered daily, with their shellfish, such as prawns and crayfish, considered some of the best in the world. Shrimp or prawns done peri-peri style and served with rice and fries is one of Mozambique’s most famous dishes. Peri-peri chicken and Matata, a seafood stew usually consisting of clams in a peanut sauce, are also popular dishes in the country.
Is Mozambique safe to travel to?
Yes, Mozambique is safe to travel to. Understandably, there is concern about the safety of Mozambique. In recent years, the country has been subjected to insurgency and terrorism by extremist groups. As of November 2022, this is still an active situation. However, the danger is restricted to Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province, which is the country’s northernmost region.
All destinations mentioned in our travel guide for Mozambique are completely safe for foreigners to visit. As they are all located in southern Mozambique, you’ll be far-flung from any risky areas – going nowhere remotely near the northern regions.
But, as with any country, there’s still a moderate risk of petty crime, like pick-pocketing, and opportunistic theft in busy urban areas. You’ll be perfectly safe as a traveller in southern Mozambique but try to practice vigilance and store your valuables safely to have extra peace of mind.
Popular Mozambique Vacation Itinerary Ideas
Ready to Plan Your Ultimate Mozambique Vacation?
Get in touch with our Africa Safari Experts, who have over two decades of experience and knowledge in planning tailor-made itineraries in Southern and East Africa, and start planning your dream trip: