Warm water, pristine beaches, stunning coral reefs and magnificent sea life are just some of the charms of Mozambique. Add to that the vibrant local culture, celebrated in traditional Portuguese cooking, especially feisty, piri-piri chicken and fresh prawns, washed down with Dos M beer. Whether you drive (as we do from Johannesburg) or fly, camp in a tent or indulge in five-star luxury, this coastal gem serves up a great getaway.
My husband Dave and I have delighted in dive trips there for many years. A long-time instructor with hundreds of hours underwater, he introduced me to the pastime almost two decades ago. While Sodwana Bay on the North Coast of South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal offers great diving, some of our Mozambican adventures have been mind-blowing.
One example is the amazing manta ray experience off Guinjata Bay, which is close to Inhambane, 355 km north of the capital, Maputo. The reefs there boast a few dedicated cleaning stations, where remora fish hang around; waiting for the manta’s to cruise silently in, like low-level bombers. The big ones are easily 5m across, from wingtip to wingtip. Although it doesn’t indicate comparative size, this image gives an idea of what it’s like to encounter one:
We shared another amazing experience at Ponta do Ouro, when Dave saved a giant leatherback turtle from running out of air. It was held fast to the seabed by three fishing lines, attached to triple-hooks in its mouth. Wedging his diving knife handle into the huge beak, Dave gradually worked the hooks out, freeing the turtle to come up for air. Through it all (15 – 20 minutes), it seemed to relax into a kind of trance, as if realizing he was there to help.
This is one of my most special underwater memories. So much so that it contributes to certain key scenes in my first novel, Out of Air (a chick-lit romance), and inspires the title. If you’re interested in discovering more about the book, which includes a conservation angle regarding endangered African Penguins, then here’s a link to Hills of Africa Travel’s recent interview: Out of Air: A Story of Sheer Inspiration & Out of Air: A Story of Sheer Inspiration – Part II.
We don’t have a photo of the leatherback, but you may enjoy these of a loggerhead sea turtle instead:
. . . and a pic of me scuba diving at Ponta do Ouro, to hopefully get you in the mood, particularly if you land up in Mozambique!