Activities In Tofo

DIVING

The warm, clear waters and abundance of sea life that inhabit the coral reefs make this area a divers paradise. Snorkeling and scuba diving are the best-developed activities and spear fishing is also catered for. Following Tofo, some of the better-known mainland spots are Paindane, Jangamo, and Barra, as well as Morrungulo and Pomene further north. The world famous Manta Reef is close by Tofo. This stretch of coastline offers the ultimate drive and dive experience. The turquoise waters hold a vast number of game and tropical fish species as well as a variety of beautiful corals and rare marine creatures including dugongs, whale sharks, and turtles.

Conditions compare favourably with those of the Caribbean or Great Barrier Reef but are far less crowded and not nearly as commercialised. Water temperatures range from 24°C (in mid-winter) to 31°C. Visibility is generally between 5 and 35 meters with 15 meters being the year-round average. Gin-clear conditions occur frequently, both along the coast and around the islands. Most lodges hire snorkeling equipment and arrange diving excursions. The more up-market resorts offer courses ranging from Resort and Open Water to Advanced Diver. Many also have their own dive shops where a full range of equipment can be hired or bought. Diversity Scuba located in Tofo town centre is recommendable. Please visit tofoscuba.co.za

FISHING

The Mozambique coastline is renowned for its offshore game fishing and Tofo is at the heart of the action. The pristine, blue waters abound with king mackerel (baracouta), dorado, wahoo, various species of kingfish, bonito and yellow-fin tuna. The sailfish season peaks from June to August. Boats can be launched or chartered from Tofo beach. Summer is the best time if it is marlin you are after. Catch and release of all fish that will not form part of the evening meal is encouraged as is protection of all other natural resources and the environment.

Launch sites are carefully designated and vehicle access to beaches is strictly controlled. Angling from the shore can also be most productive. Small kingfish (2 to 3 kg) can be found from the rocks off Tofinho, particularly towards high tide, and at deep water spots anything can happen (Adrie Prinsloo of Glassfit Witbank holds the Tofo record of 48 kg for a Kingfish caught off the rocks at Tofinho). Kingfish, stump nose and pompano are taken from the sandy beaches between Tofo and Tofinho. Salt water fly fishing is becoming increasingly popular, particularly off the sandbars at Tofo point.

FISHING REGULATIONS

A permit (obtainable at the Maritimo office in Inhambane) is required for launching boats. A spear fishing license must be obtained from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism in Maputo. Fish may not be sold for commercial purposes and there are limits (6kg, but not more than 4kg of a particular species) to what bona fide fishermen and spear fishermen can take out of the country.

SURFING

The Inhambane coastline has all the makings of a world class surfing destination, with an ideal mix of warm water, consistent swells and sandy headlands. In the south of the province Quissico has a hollow reef break but access is rather difficult. Jangamo Beach (also known as Guinjata Bay) has a crescent-shaped bay with a reef off the tip and under the correct conditions right-handers peel all the way to the shore. Neighbouring Coconut Bay features a splitting peak in the shorebreak, the left-hander working during light south westerly winds. There are a wide variety of spots in the vicinity of Tofo, working in a range of wind and swell conditions, with the sand point at Tofo beach point being ideal for beginners and long-boarders.

However, it’s the waves around the corner at Tofinho that draw the serious surfers. A shallow reef ledge skirts the sandstone headland and at low tide advanced surfers who can handle the steep take-off have the chance of getting the ride of a lifetime. Tofinho, less than a kilometre south of Tofo, is situated on a more exposed and rocky headland and is known for its stiff currents and a shallow rock shelf make it a place for advanced riders only.

BIRD-WATCHING

Inhambane Province, with its great variety of habitats, is home to over 500 species of birds. The area around Inhambane Bay, particularly the various mud flats and the extensive mangrove swamps, is popular with bird-watchers. There is a resident population of about 250 greater flamingos and on the outgoing tide whimbrels, turnstones and many other waders work the mud flats. The mangroves near Barra are home to egrets, purple-banded sunbirds and mangrove kingfishers. The stretches of dune forest that remain along the coast harbour the lilac-breasted roller, Burchell’s coucal and grey and olive sunbirds. Ospreys, fish eagles, olive bee-­eaters, narina trojans, flamingos and numerous seabirds and waders are a common sight. A highlight for avid bird-watchers is a sighting of the crab plover, a visitor from September to April.

CURIO SHOPPING

An array of value-for-money curios are sold at various roadside stalls, general dealers and markets throughout Inhambane. Colorful cloths called capulanas, worn by women around their waists, but with many other uses, are very popular with tourists as are grass mats, batik prints, wood carvings, baskets, traditional ceramics, sculptures and items carved from semi-precious stones. Always test ebony wood carvings by smelling for shoe polish or dye, or by rubbing with a damp finger. On route to Inhambane, at Quissico and Inharrime, bows and arrows, timbilas (a local form of xylophone) and other Chitende musical instruments is an added attraction. A wide selection of curios is peddled at the main markets in Inhambane and Tofo. Items are generally priced modestly and make excellent souvenirs.

SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES

Don’t miss the huge array of ceramic pots for sale alongside the road just out of town on the EN. At lnhambane’s bustling central market, one can browse for curios, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread rolls and sea food. Fresh catches arrive throughout the day. Crabs and shellfish are sold alive. If you buy fish check for freshness — a fresh fish has shiny eyes, red gills and smells of the sea. Some products are from South Africa, others are produced locally. Good buys include a colourful array of capulanas, a bewildering number of woven grass mats and bags in the local Sipatsi style as well as wood carvings and fresh cashew nuts. Prices are reasonable and bargaining should not be necessary.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

Dhow trips are an added adventure although you should always allow for the impact of tides and winds on your timetable. Parasailing, windsurfing, paddle-skiing, kayaking and quad biking are also available in and around Tofo, as are escorted excursions into the towns and rural settlements. 4×4 trails and trips to nearby Paindane, Praia da Rosch and Jangamo Bay can be arranged.