10 THINGS TO DO BY LAND & SEA IN TOFO BEACH ~ MOZAMBIQUE
Thanks to its pristine turquoise waters, incredible marine megafauna, and happening social scene, Tofo Beach is definitely one of Mozambique’s most legendary holiday destinations.
Not only is Tofo Beach (aka Praia do Tofo) one of the few places on the planet where you can swim with whale sharks and giant manta rays, it’s also a marine conservation hub, cultural melting pot, and all-around eco-travelers paradise.
From ocean safaris and community eco-tours to surfing and stylish beach-style restaurants, this little slice of coastal paradise is definitely worth a spot on your Africa bucket list.
To help you plan the ultimate Tofo getaway, here are 10 THINGS TO DO BY LAND & SEA IN TOFO BEACH, MOZAMBIQUE.
Probably the most popular ocean activity in Tofo Beach is its famous ocean safaris, aka ‘open ocean snorkeling trip’. Excursions last for about two hours and are ideal for non-divers who also want a chance to spot Tofo’s Big 5: whale sharks, manta rays, devil rays, sea turtles and dolphins (humpback whales are an added bonus, prime months to spot them are July to September). The cost for ocean safaris average $50 per person and includes the boat ride, a guide, and snorkeling gear.
There are four main tour operators in Tofo Beach that offer ocean safaris, they include Peri-Peri Divers, Tofo Scuba, Liquid Dive Adventures, and Diversity Scuba. Note that these are also Tofo’s main scuba diving operators (covered in activity three).
For our ocean safari, we opted to go with Peri-Peri Divers because of their partnership with Marine Mega Foundation, a marine and community conservation organization that runs a number of its research and outreach programs in Tofo Beach (see #6 on this list for more information).
Each week, MMF holds 3 different hour-long talks at popular Tofo Beach locations — Manta Monday at Dathonga – 6pm (cost is 200 Metical/$3.50 pp),Whale Shark Wednesday at Tofo Do Mar Hotel – 6pm (cost is 200 Metical/$3.50 pp), Free Friday at Casa de Comer – 6pm (free entry).
Not only will you get to learn more about marine megafauna species and why ongoing research is critical to their protection, but all funds raised from the talks go directly back into their research and conservation programs to protect marine megafauna. If you’re interested in getting even more involved with marine conservation in Tofo Beach, you can learn more about Marine Megafauna’s volunteer opportunities HERE.
Sidenote — My fiancé, Zander, and I spent our first week in Tofo creating a film about MMF’s Ocean Guardians — a group of local young men teaching youth swimming classes and marine education in local schools in an effort to inspire the next generation of Ocean Guardians. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.
Tofo Beach is known for having some of the best scuba diving in Mozambique right off its shore thanks to its plankton-rich waters that attract whale sharks, manta rays, and even humpback whales year round.
While the area lacks lush reefs (you can find those further north in Bazaruto) it does have a lot of beautiful soft coral (dendronephthya) and an abundant fish population that includes cool species like large groupers and red-toothed triggerfish.
The same tour operators offering ocean safaris — Peri-Peri Divers, Tofo Scuba, Liquid Dive Adventures, and Diversity Scuba — are also Tofo’s scuba diving operators. Each offers a variety of scuba diving activities for different experience levels, including PADI diving courses for those looking to get certified as well as day trips to top dive sites for already certified divers.
For some scuba diving inspiration, here’s a short underwater clip of one of our manta ray sightings:
No trip to Mozambique would be complete without spending a day exploring the waters by dhow. These traditional wooden sailboats have been used for centuries by local people for everything from fishing to cross-continental journeys. Today, they remain a staple in many of Africa’s coastal countries.
Local operators, like Flamingo Dhow Tours, offer full-day dhow excursions to Inhambane Bay, Pansy Island, and Pig Island (yes there are pigs on the island).
The dhow tour typically starts with a light breakfast on the dhow followed by some snorkeling and sea shell picking on Pansy island (pansy shells, aka sand dollars, are plentiful here). From there you’ll sail to Pig Island where you’ll be given a brief tour, which includes meeting the island’s chief as well as visiting the local school and clinic, before enjoying a buffet-style lunch of traditional Mozambican foo (if you’re a vegetarian or vegan be sure to let your tour operator know in advance so they can make special arrangements as seafood is a staple here). All inclusive cost for the full-day excursion is about $50 per person.
For a little more dhow island hopping inspiration check out my post Sailing By Dhow to Mozambique’s Magaruque Island (with video).
Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a total novice, Tofo Beach has everything from an advanced point break to calm beginners’ waves for those looking to get their surf on.
The Surf Shack, located right on Tofo’s beachfront, offers surf lessons, board rentals, board repairs, supplies and more (see #5 on this list for their other water sports options).
Their surf lessons run about $40 per person for a private 1.5-hour lesson and $30 per person for a 1.5-hour group lesson for up to three people. For those who arrive ready to ride Tofo’s waves, their surfboard rentals cost about $7 for an hour, $16 for a half-day, and $23 for a full-day (they also offer body board rentals for half these prices).
Another great way to experience Tofo’s local marine habitats is by kayak.
The Surf Shack offers rentals for travelers interested in kayaking around Tofo Beach and its surrounding sea cliffs. But for those interested in exploring some of the region’s other must-see sights, Liquid Dive Adventures and Diversity Scuba offer some great guided kayaking tours.
Options range half-day tours (about $50 per person) to the bay of Barra, where you’ll get to kayak through beautiful mangroves, spot amazing birdlife like flamingoes, and watch the sunset over the bay, to full-day tours (about $70 per person) to nearby islands, where you’ll be served lunch and get a chance to meet people from the local village.
Other water sports activities to check out that are also available in Tofo Beach include standup paddle boarding, kitesurfing and wake surfing.
Once you’ve had your fix of ocean activities, rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul with a tranquil yoga class.
Both Peri-Peri Divers and Liquid Dive Adventures offer beachside yoga classes (Peri-Peri’s yoga is complimentary for its dive clients), but if you really want to get your yoga on, check out Gaia Tree Yoga Shala at Turtle Cove. Set to the backdrop of a lush palm trees garden, Gaia Tree Yoga Shala hosts weekly yoga classes for all experience levels as well as week-long yoga retreats in a variety of yoga styles.
Located just outside of Tofo Beach, Turtle Cove itself is actually a stunning lodge with a full-service restaurant that serves a wide variety of vegan, vegetarian, and other clean eating meals (definitely check out there brunch if you can).
Looking for a little more action? Book a 4×4 quad bike tour and explore the sandy trails between Tofo Beach and nearby Barra.
This adrenaline-pumping activity will take you over bumpy dirt roads, past local markets, through coconut plantations and remote villages. You’re even likely to stumble upon some hidden enclaves and beaches that aren’t accessible directly from Tofo Beach itself.
You book guided 4×4 quad bike tours at Casa Anlija (on the back side of the road paralleling the beach) and through Diversity Scuba. Cost ranges from $40-$50 per person for a two-hour tour and it’s a good idea to book in advance as these bikes are limited.
If you make it Barra, be sure to make a pitstop at Flamingo Beach Lodge and enjoy a drink at overlooking the lagoon (you may even get lucky and spot a dugong).
If you want an authentic glimpse into the daily life of Tofo’s local community then do not miss Tofo Life’s Community Eco-Tour.
Started by 8 local women in partnership with the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), these Community Eco-Tours showcase what traditional life is like for the members of the Tofo Josina Machel community, and give visitors a chance to join in, interact, and learn from its members.
During the half-day tour (about 4 hours), you’ll get the chance to visit a traditional settlement, meet locals in their homes, and take part in daily activities — like helping make matapa, a traditional dish made from cassava leaves, peanut, and coconut milk.
The income from the Community Eco-Tours project helps provide a sustainable income to households who traditionally rely on fishing as a way of life, and in turn, helps to reduce the community’s dependence on the ocean — ultimately helping to protect Tofo’s marine life and its habitat from the negative impacts of overfishing.
Despite being small in size, there’s no shortage of great places to eat and drink in this tiny beach town.
For starters, Tofo Beach’s gastronomy scene is surprisingly vibrant. Not only is the cuisine here really really good, but there’s plenty of variety and soul to go around. From African, Indian, Italian and Thai menus to sushi, burgers, and fries, the restaurants in Tofo Beach definitely cater to a variety of taste buds, there are even vegetarian and vegan-friendly places.
Where To Eat
One of my favorite restaurants in all of Tofo Beach was Dothonga. On top of having some of the best wood-fired pizza I’ve ever in my life, this place had live music or some other form of live entertainment each night we were in town (on our final night there was a drum circle). If you’re looking for something a little more low-key but with equally good food, check out Branko’s and Tofo Tofo across the way.
For all my vegetarians out there, Happi (next to Liquid Dive shop) is a must for breakfast and/or lunch. But get there early because they tend to run out of some of their more popular menu items later in the day.
Tucked away in the middle of the street market where local vendors are selling souvenirs, etc., you’ll find a couple of tables and local cooks making traditional Mozambican dishes over makeshift open-fire stoves. Whatever you do, do not leave Tofo Beach without having a meal here, even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan (I found some lovely ladies who made me one of the best plates of beans, rice, and steamed greens — for just $3).
Where To Drink
While Tofo Beach’s ‘town‘ is more like a few sandy streets of bars, restaurants, and local vendors, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t take a little time away from all the fun to just walk around and take it all in.
There are no ATMs in the town of Tofo Beach. While most major tour operators and large restaurants do take credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) the majority of the local establishments do not, so it’s a good idea to bring enough cash for the duration of your stay. If you out there is a gas station about 15 minutes outside of town en route to Inhambane.
If you’d like to pick up some groceries to avoid eating out too much (Tofo Beach can be a bit expensive) there is a Yum Yum Supermarket between Inhambane and Tofo right off the main road. It is pretty well stocked with a good range of products (i.e. fresh produce, meats, dairy, sauces, alcohol, cereals, etc.) and takes Visa and Mastercard.
In actual Tofo Beach the only “grocery store” is Mr. Fresh Supermercado, which is located near the entrance to the main village area. Just know that it’s really small and the options are pretty limited (fine for snacks and other basic nonperishable items).
Mosquitoes & Malaria
Malaria is present all over Mozambique, so no matter where you plan on traveling in the country you will want to take precautions.
When it comes to Tofo Beach, there are plenty of mosquitos (especially in the summer season — December to April), so bring more than enough mosquito repellent. It’s also a wise idea to BYOMN (bring your own mosquito net), especially if you’re staying at a budget-friendly accommodation. Also, wearing loose-fitting pants and long sleeve shirts (especially after dark) and burning mosquito coils really seems to help keep them away too.
If you choose to take anti-malaria pills (it’s best to consult with a medical professional on this) you will need to take them before, during and after your trip, so be sure to plan ahead.
While we felt completely safe the entire duration of our stay in Tofo Beach, like when traveling anywhere else unfamiliar, its always best to use common sense and exercise more caution than normal.
It probably goes without saying, but avoiding things like flaunting valuable items (i.e. cell phones, cameras, jewelry, etc.) and walking alone at night go a long way.
If possible, try and get a local SIM card at the beginning of your trip so you can maintain contact with someone back home and make a plan to check in with them throughout your trip. (For more tips on staying safe when you travel — alone or not — be sure to check out my 10 Best Tips For Solo Travelers.)
Where To Stay
When it comes to accommodations in Tofo Beach, you can find everything from cheap backpacker-style hostels to upscale luxury lodges and more (you can get an idea of options HERE). The average price for mid-level accommodations is around $65 per night, but don’t expect AC or any other luxury. There are also few are camping options in the area, like Faraway Lodge & Camping — a solid choice for anyone self-driving/overlanding who’s looking to save a little money.
Last but not least, my fiancé and I stayed at Lagoon Sunset (pictured below) and we really loved it. It was about a 7-minute walk to Tofo Beach and located just enough outside of town that we didn’t hear much noise at night from the bars and restaurants.
Whether you decide to tackle everything on this list or just a few must-do activities, there is no doubt you’ll fall in love with Tofo Beache.
From its world-class ocean adventures to its cuisine, culture, and quaint beachside-vibe, this is one African destination well worth setting your sights on.