Mozambique is a gorgeous tropical paradise of a country. The coastline is long, and palm-fringed beaches define lovely bays sheltering colourful coral reefs. But like any paradise – there's the odd rotten apple and even a serpent or two. A hideous twenty-year war when the country was used as a pawn between the superpowers, and neighbouring countries, was followed by devastating cyclones and floods. Mozambique still has a way to go but it's bouncing back. If there was an Oscar ceremony for countries, Mozambique would win the award for resilience and grace under pressure.
The beautiful beaches are fully operational, there are dive operators almost everywhere the reefs are easily accessible, and accommodation options range from backpackers and camping sites to five star extravaganzas. Most of the towns and cities are picking up slowly and there is a certain shabby chic touch to unmaintained Art Deco buildings decaying in style. The streets are lined with flowering trees and vibrant markets and small businesses. The main reasons most people visit Mozambique, though are to dive, fish, sun tan or indulge in yummy seafood. Mozambique is renowned for its succulent swimming prawns – although by the time most people see them they're swimming in peri-peri sauce. (In case you're wondering, swimming prawns are distinct from those rather squooshy things that hide out in the mud – and they taste muucch better.)
Ponta do Ouro and Ponta Malongane, together just called Ponta and just across the border from South Africa, are very popular diving, fishing and surfing resorts. In the 1970s Maputo was the playground of southern Africa – balmy nights, Portuguese wine, prawns by the bucketful and wild Latin-African rhythms made this a party destination of note. It's coming – with a bit more style and a lot more relaxed dress code.
In Maputo Bay is Inhaca Island – a little tropical paradise all of its own. Mangrove forests, lovely beaches, a good hotel, great diving and snorkelling, a small low key marine museum and a small village give it a special holiday air. There are good beach destinations all up the coast, but the more popular areas include the area around Inhambane, the Bazaruto Archipelago and, in the last few years, the far north, near Pemba.
You can drive into Mozambique from South Africa and the roads, while not exactly pristine, are passable in a two-wheel drive vehicle. The bus service is adequate but only for relatively adventurous travellers. There are international airports at Maputo, Inhambane, Vilanculos (near the Bazaruto Archipelago) and Pemba.
Note: If you are planning to travel to Mozambique please be aware that this region is malarial. Consult your doctor or travel clinic for advice and refer to our article on malaria.
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