Maputo Day Trips

Xai Xai
Xai Xai © Erik Cleves Kristensen

Xai Xai

Just 124 miles (200km) north of Maputo, the small town of Xai Xai is a popular excursion for those seeking a relaxing day on the beach. Xai Xai has a scattering of shops, bars, restaurants, and accommodation, but the real draws are the superb scuba diving and snorkelling sites.

The coral reef running parallel to the main beach creates ideal diving conditions, and there are some fun dive sites nearby, including the natural underwater tunnel at Wenela Tidal Pool, just one mile (2km) south.

The sandy white beaches with their calm waters are a fantastic place to swim, with freshwater lakes nearby great for kayaking, paddle skiing and windsurfing. The resort town of Bilene is also nearby.

The lagoon at Bilene is very popular for watersports, and with safe and shallow waters, it is an especially good destination for families. However, visitors should anticipate attention from the locals selling crafts and trinkets in the region.

For those wanting to extend their stay, there are some great accommodation options, including good budget accommodation for backpackers. The roads between Maputo and Xai Xai are in good condition and traversable without a 4x4 vehicle, which is a big advantage for day-trippers.

Go diving in Ponta d'Ouro
Go diving in Ponta d'Ouro © Derek Keats

Ponta d'Ouro

Located along a sandy road just south of Maputo, Ponta d'Ouro is home to some of the most perfect waves in Africa. Offering spectacular dive sites and a wealth of sea creatures, it is a popular destination with surfers, divers, and underwater enthusiasts. Swimming with dolphins is a must and can be a deeply rewarding and life-changing experience. Stroll along white beaches stretching far into the distance or explore the rock pools full of colourful shells and corals. Local specialities and trinkets include the locally produced Tipo Tinto Rum, tasting slightly of vanilla and perfect with pineapple or raspberry juice, as well as hardwood carvings in all shapes and sizes. Customers should avoid beautiful shells as are potentially stolen off local reefs. Tours of local pubs, called shebeens, allow visitors to explore the rustic drinking-houses along a stretch of rough road. Accommodation ranges from rustic to luxurious, with lovely campsites right on the beach. Ponta d'Ouro is accessible from South Africa, making it a great addition to a tour of southern Africa.

Address: 75 miles (120km) south of Maputo

Inhaca Island
Inhaca Island © Paulo Miranda

Inhaca Island

Situated almost 25 miles (40km) off the coast of Maputo, Inhaca Island is an immensely popular African resort destination. It boasts beautiful beaches, some of the Mozambique Channel's best coral reefs, a historic lighthouse, a marine biology museum, and large areas of protected forest.

Easily accessible from the capital, it's a favourite among snorkelers and divers who usually head for the reefs at Santa Maria, the lighthouse, or the surrounding sunken wrecks. The Santa Maria reefs have strong drift currents running parallel to the shore.

They're fantastic for snorkelling, while the Wall is a rocky ledge that drops some 66 feet (20m) to the bottom, harbouring numerous caves and ledges filled with a variety of marine life. Game fishing and water sports like water skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking, and sailing are also popular on the island.

Beautiful beaches ring Inhaca, visitors can enjoy a sunset cruise or take boats across to the deserted island. The resort has a tennis court and swimming pool, with excursions available to the biology station, lighthouse beach, the mangrove swamps, and the Santa Maria Wall.

Restaurants are mostly limited to the lodge. However, the nearby village has a takeaway burger stand and an attached seafood restaurant, as well as a few small shops selling typical tourist tat like sarongs and seashells. There is no real nightlife on the island, though the lodge has a bar.

Many tourists find a visit to Inhaca Island a pleasant way to spend time while in Maputo. However, visitors should be prepared to pay dearly for every service on the island, including a tourist tax levied the second you step off the boat. Swimmers should also take care, as the bluebottles occasionally inundate the beach.