Mozambique’s the south east African country for remarkable Indian Ocean beaches, wild national parks, protected marine reserves and coral island enchantment.
Bordering Kruger in South Africa and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou, Mozambique is one of the more affordable Big-Five safari holidays with far fewer crowds than its famous neighbours. And several of the country’s lovely archipelagos now have family-friendly eco-resorts and lodges where holidays are dense with culture and activity packed too. Is Mozambique right for you? It’s not malaria-free so most travel specialists recommend safaris for over 12s and advise against travelling without guides in the interior simply because of long distances and poor driving conditions. But if you want an all-out, unforgettable, memory-drenched beach holiday, Mozambique’s astonishing for all ages.
Flights from the UK to Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Vilanculos and Pemba access Mozambique’s entire coastline from north to south.
Best time to visit is between May and September, the weather’s sunny and tropical with temperatures of 30˚ on average and low rainfall.
Mozambique has over 2000km of Indian Ocean coastline with white sand beaches, coral island archipelagos and protected marine reserves.
Limpopo National Park is a trans-frontier game reserve and shares borders and wildlife corridors with South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
The Island of Mozambique is a UNESCO World Heritage site and until the late 19th century was the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa – Portuguese is still the official language of Mozambique.
The Quirimbas and Bazaruto Archipelagos are two of the world’s leading diving destinations.
Where to go
Mozambique Island (Ilha de Mocambique)
For land that time forgot enchantment, Ibo is impossible to match. The island’s colonial buildings date back to the early 16th century and the fact that many are in ruins only makes the landscape more magical. Fishermen fish with nets as they have for centuries and traditional community life, customs and cultures haven’t changed too much either. Kids love the friendly, warm atmosphere and freedom. There are endless adventures to get involved in from Dhow island cruises, kayaking, snorkelling and exploring to dolphin and turtle watching, diving, swimming and hanging out playing with local children.
Ibo Island Lodge is a stunning family-friendly resort with long-established links to the community and a raft of conservation, design and experience awards.
Castaway is the perfect description for gorgeous Vamizi Island, one of the furthest north in the Quirimbas Archipelago. It’s all sugary white beaches, transparent seas, seemingly endless sunshine and a gentle pace of life which, once tried, is hard to resist.
Vamisi has over 300 different types of coral and hundreds of reef-fish species.
The island’s protected by Friends of Vamisi, set up in 2002 and a member of the global Long Run Alliance.
&Beyond Vamisi is ideal for family holidays with beautifully designed luxury villas and heaps of activities for kids. The resort’s directly involved with community and conservation projects and offers a fantastic range of authentic family experiences balanced by incredible beachy fun.
Mozambique Island (Ilha de Mocambique)
Tiny Mozambique Island may be only three kilometres long and half a kilometre wide, but it’s steeped in history like almost nowhere else in the country. It’s also awash with different cultures from distinctive Portuguese Stone Town to African Macuti Town and traces of India, Brazil and Malaysia in between.
The island’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and covered in imposing monuments including immense San Sebastio Fortress and Sao Paulo Palace.
What to do
Bazaruto Archipelago National Park Mozamibique’s only marine park protects the fragile natural habitat of dugong, dolphin, sea turtles, sharks, whales and stingrays. It’s one of the world’s top diving locations and includes the five Bazaruto Archipelago islands.
Maputo Special Reserve One of southern Africa’s best kept secrets this 1040km² wilderness reserve is where to see elephant, kudu, warthog, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and hippo on day-safari.
Limpopo National Park Limpopo in Mozambique is trans-frontier, sharing a western border with South Africa’s legendary Kruger Park. Smaller than its neighbour, less touristy and uncrowded for guided safaris with older kids.
Kruger National Park, South Africa South Africa’s top game reserve and leading family safari destination is just over two hour’s drive from Maputo and Mozambique’s Indian Ocean beaches.
Dhow Safaris, Ibo Island A voyage around Mozambique’s idyllic Quirimbas Archipelago aboard a traditional dhow and fly-camping on deserted Indian Ocean islands is an unforgettable adventure with older kids.
Dolphin Encounters, Ponta do Ouro Ethical encounters with dolphins off the coast of Mozambique are magical experiences, fascinating engagement with marine conservation initiatives too.
Deep Sea Fishing, Bazaruto Archipelago Mozambique’s Indian Ocean waters are some of Africa’s deep-sea fishing finest. Recommended tours operate a tag and release policy and offer instruction for beginners.
Turtle Watching and Releasing, Vamizi Island Five of the world’s seven sea turtle species nest on Mozambique’s coastline. Vamizi Island’s the best place to see Hawksbill and Green Turtles and kids are welcome to join the island’s conservation community monitoring, releasing and assisting between December and July – peak times are March and June.
Canoe Safari, Limpopo National Park Part of the Canoe Africa initiative, sailing and camping on Limpopo’s Rio dos Elefantes is fantastic fun, family friendly and a great skill-building experience for kids.
Guided Ibo Island Tours Mozambique’s oldest settlement, after Mozambique Island, Ibo’s history is fascinating but these guided tours explore the present as well as the past.
Educational value for kids
On Ibo Island, history lessons are held on João Baptiste’s porch: he’s a local legend, storyteller and keeper of Mozambique’s oral tradition.
Learn about the conservation and protection of Mozambique’s magnificent marine environment at one of the country’s two dedicated dolphin research centres.
The best time to hear Marrabenta (traditional Mozambique music) is during the annual Marrabenta Festival in February – centred on Maputo with some events further north in Inhambe.
Visit Maputo Central Market. It’s enormous, chaotic, noisy and sells just about everything under the sun and then some – bit daunting for younger kids but a must with teenagers (don’t carry valuables or large amounts of cash).
Support Mozambique’s communities by visiting workshops, talking to artisans and artists and buying locally made crafts like Vamizi Island pompoms and Pemba silverwork.
Limpopo National Park has well-managed guided safaris including: Rio Elefantes canoeing; Parangala Wilderness Trail; Lebombo Hiking and Shingwedzi 4 x 4 eco-trails.
Take guided tours of Mozambique’s island communities, they’re good fun and meeting local children is a mutual learning experience.
Getting about with kids in Mozambique
Mozambique’s infrastructure’s can be quite basic and even travelling between cities along the coast makes challenging driving. The political climate’s as stable as it’s been for decades but there are still areas best avoided with kids. Beach tourism’s long-established, safe and very high quality. Safari tourism isn’t luxury standard but it’s well-managed in Limpopo, Maputo and trans-frontier Kruger.
The best, easiest and most enjoyable way to get about with kids is to pre-arrange transport as part of your holiday and consider lodges, hotels and resorts where transfers, island sailing and tours are included.