Mozambique: an Indian Ocean surfing paradise | Photo: Lucas Bettega/ASM

Mozambique, an enchanting African nation with a rich history and diverse culture, is a gem of a destination for surfers seeking uncrowded waves.

With its idyllic beaches and pristine coastline stretching over 2,500 kilometers, Mozambique offers a variety of surf spots suitable for all skill levels.

The best area for the traveling surfer focusing on quality and consistency is the Inhambane province, a seven-hour drive north of Maputo.

The former Portuguese colony is located on the southeastern coast of Africa, sharing borders with Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).

The Indian Ocean lies to its east, blessing the country with an extensive, stunning coastline and numerous world-class surf rideable.

What was once considered the world's poorest country, Mozambique turned the page in 1992 with the end of the civil war, nearly multiplying its GDP by 10 in 30 years.

Ilha de Moçambique: the former Portuguese colony went through a lengthy civil war from 1977 to 1992 | Photo: Creative Commons

History of Surfing in Mozambique

Surfing in Mozambique can be traced back to the 1960s when South African surfers began exploring the coastal regions in search of uncrowded waves.

However, the country's lengthy civil war from 1977 to 1992 hindered the sport's growth.

Only after peace was restored surfers started to return to Mozambique's shores.

The surf scene has steadily grown in recent years, attracting local and international surfers alike.

"American pros Tom Curren and Shane Beschen, along with photographers Ted Grambeau and Sonny Miller, made a two-week boat journey up the southern end of Mozambique in 1993," notes surf historian Matt Warshaw in "The Encyclopedia of Surfing."

"They discovered a handful of perfectly-shaped right-breaking points." They also found the remnant of the chaos of a nation still recovering from war: orphans, amputees, corrupt officials, ruined towns, millions of unexploded land mines, and a national flag emblazoned with an AK-47 rifle."

One of the first surf movies to feature Mozambique was Sonny Miller's 1993 "The Search II."

Mozambique: the African capital of right-hand point breaks | Photo: Associação de Surf de Moçambique

Weather and Indian Ocean Swells

Mozambique experiences a tropical climate, with warm air and water temperatures year-round. Droughts and floods can be tragically regular.

The weather is divided into two main seasons:

  • Wet Season: from November to March is characterized by high humidity, rainfall, and cyclones;
  • Dry Season: from April to October offers cooler, more pleasant weather;

The majority of the swells in Mozambique are east-to-southeast swells generated in the Indian Ocean, even though the African nation's exposure is not ideal.

The most consistent surf occurs during the winter (April to October) when the swells are stronger and more frequent.

Heading too much north increases the chances of getting sheltered by the swell shadow from Madagascar.

Even though Inhambane is the go-to, wave-rich province, Sofala, Zambezia, and Nampula have a south-facing aspect that is offshore in N winds at many of their river mouths and long sandy beaches.

Inhambane features around one-sixth of the country's coastline, but access to some near-shore stretches can sometimes be nearly impossible.

Mozambique Surf Spots

From north to south, here are the ten best surf breaks in Mozambique:

Barra Beach

In the Inhambane Province, Barra Beach boasts a long stretch of palm-backed white sand and clear waters.

The beach break often offers little more than a closeout, but sometimes it throws up a quality sandspit right-hander at higher tides on NE cyclone swells.

Because it faces north, it is either nicely offshore or blown-out trash in a NE sea breeze.

There's a similar setup but with a higher quality ride at Ponta Pomene, 100 kilometers north, or the more adventurous might travel 200 kilometers to check out the potential of the Bazaruto Archipelago.

Dino's Left

Dino's Left near Guinjata Bay is a consistent Indo-style left-hand point break that offers long, peeling waves over a rocky bottom.

The spot is named after a local surfer and is ideal for intermediate to advanced surfers.

It needs an easterly swell combined with rare Berg wind to shine.

The picturesque setting and uncrowded lineup make Dino's Left an attractive destination for those seeking a more relaxed surf experience.

Tofo Beach

Tofo Beach, close to Tofinho, offers a more beginner-friendly surf experience with a soft right-hand point break and a weak inside beach break.

The laid-back sandy beach break provides gentler waves perfect for learning and improving your skills and longboarding.

The picturesque setting and warm, crystal-clear waters make Tofo Beach an excellent choice for surfing families.

There's plenty of seafood, coconuts, roasted cashew nuts, peri-peri chicken, and Tipo Tinto rum to enjoy.

Praia Tofo is generally a soft right point and weak inside beach break, remaining small and fun, suitable for beginners or longboarders.

The diving is superb, as whale sharks, manta rays, and dolphins can be seen almost all year round.

Tofinho

Located near the small town of Tofo, Tofinho is a popular surf spot known for its mighty right-hand reef break that attracts plenty of swells.

For many, it's Mozambique's surfing capital.

This fickle break is best suited for experienced surfers, as the waves can be fast and hollow.

The take-off can be pretty critical with a ledgy drop over a very shallow and sharp reef.

After this initial section, the wave peels quickly along the sandy edge of the reef and offers good tube sections in front of the grassy cliff.

The coral and strong currents demand caution, but the thrilling rides are worth the effort.

With an S-SE swell and alight NW wind, it becomes a surfing paradise, breaking perfectly from two to six feet.

Back Beach

Back Beach offers a reasonably hollow right-hand beach break in S swells but closes out quite often over some nasty, shallow patches of coral.

In a NE-E swell, the left-hander at the north end gathers up the most swell in the area.

It's a short, hollow ride more suitable for bodyboarders with a challenging freefall drop over a barely submerged razor-sharp reef.

The surf break is recommended for experienced surfers, as the waves can be challenging and unforgiving.

Backdoor

In the southern corner of Back Beach is Backdoor, a super shallow, right-hand barrel that detonates onto an almost dry reef.

This fast, hollow wave is suitable for more advanced surfers.

While the spot can be challenging, it offers rewarding rides for those who can navigate its power and speed.

Guinjata Bay: an example of an all-around surf break in the Inhambane province

Guinjata Bay

In the Inhambane province, Guinjata Bay has several wave peaks catering to various skill levels.

The bay's sandy bottom and sheltered location make it an ideal spot for beginners to learn and progress.

Intermediate and advanced surfers can also find more challenging breaks nearby.

There's a resort in front of a right-hand point break and protected peaks in the lee of the headland.

Praia de Závora

Praia de Závora, a remote surf spot in southern Mozambique, offers a serene surfing experience with its uncrowded lineup and beautiful surroundings.

The point break produces long, peeling waves suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers.

While getting to Praia de Závora can be challenging due to its remote location, the reward is well worth the effort.

The area is also a dive spot with S-SW wind protection behind the jutting reef/point.

You'll find some accessible peaks breaking over sand and outcrops of coral reefs.

Quissico

Quissico, located in southern Mozambique, is a hidden gem with various breaks for all skill levels.

The main attraction is a long, peeling right-hand point break that offers an exciting ride for intermediate and advanced surfers.

The nearby beach break provides gentler waves, ideal for beginners to hone their skills.

Ponta do Ouro

Ponta do Ouro, in the far south near the South African border, is probably Mozambique's most famous surf spot.

It is tucked in behind headland and attracts a massive contingent of surfers from Durban and Johannesburg.

On wrapping S-SE swell day, paddle out in the morning in low tide and avoid the NE wind - you'll score one of the world's best right-hand point breaks.

The consistent waves, sandy bottom, and beautiful surroundings make this location a favorite among local and international surfers.

You will need a 4WD to get to Ponta do Ouro.

Mozambique: when E-NE swells wrap around the local headlands, you get tropical perfection surf

When to Go

The best time to surf in Mozambique is during the winter months (April to October), with two or three solid swells a month producing waves between 3-8 feet, and the weather is cooler and drier.

The rest of the year will likely be flat on the points and small, mushy, and onshore on the beaches.

Cyclone-generated E-NE swells produce either perfect lefts or widespread destruction.

While the summer months (November to March) experience higher temperatures and rainfall, surfers can still find some rideable waves, particularly in the northern regions.

Tidal variations increase further up the Mozambique Channel and can significantly affect shallow reefs.

For more information and surf trip support, contact Associação de Surf do Moçambique (ASM) and Lwandi Surf.

Mozambique: Jordy Smith helped bring Surfers Not Street Children to the East African country | Photo: Surfers Not Street Children

Hazards and Dangers

While Mozambique offers many incredible surf spots, surfers should be aware of potential hazards and dangers.

Sharp coral and rocky reefs can pose a risk of injury, so surfers should always use caution and wear appropriate protective gear, such as neoprene boots.

Marine life, such as sharks and stingrays, can also be a concern in certain areas.

Although shark attacks are rare, it's essential to take necessary precautions, like avoiding surfing during dawn or dusk, when sharks are more active.

Additionally, some regions may have strong currents and riptides that can challenge even the most experienced surfers.

Always pay attention to local knowledge, obey posted warning signs, and never surf alone in unfamiliar areas.

Malaria is also still a problem in Mozambique.

The country is considered to have a high risk of malaria transmission throughout the year, particularly in rural areas.

Malaria is caused by a parasite transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes.

Surfer travelers need to take necessary precautions when visiting Mozambique, such as using mosquito repellents, sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, and considering taking antimalarial medication.

Last but not least, Mozambique was declared free of landmines in 2015.

After a long and extensive demining process, the country was able to clear all known minefields, which were a consequence of its lengthy civil war from 1977 to 1992.

Although Mozambique has been declared landmine-free, it is still essential for travelers to be cautious and aware of their surroundings, especially in remote areas.

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) might still be present in some locations, although the risk is considered low.

Always follow local advice and stay on well-trodden paths when exploring the country.

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