Scuba Diving Tofo
Scuba diving Tofo was perfect. After having dived regularly in the South Pacific for years, I stopped when I moved to East Africa. Diving is expensive, and I usually only buy a dive when it means I can have a unique experience. Otherwise, I prefer to free dive the reef and take pictures. This way, not only do I save money, but I can stay out for a few hours.
Further, since most of the marine life is usually in the top 20 meters of water, I often see the same species as the scuba divers. Snorkeling along the East African coast from Lamu to Zanzibar, I mostly found dead reefs and very few fish, which meant I was never inspired to purchase a dive (I would still like to go to Mafia Island though).
However, at Tofo Beach there are big pelagic species swimming offshore in deep water. I was very excited to scuba dive and snorkel around the reefs and did so happily for a week. While I was unlucky with the whale shark sightings, I saw a few manta rays, leopard sharks, turtles, big groupers, and massive moray eels.
The most memorable part of the diving was the incredible visibility in the water. For my first time, I got vertigo on one of my safety stops watching divers about 25 meters below me circling around a coral bommie. It just felt like I was suspended in the air. These conditions were perfect for crisp underwater photography, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in it.
The diving also had a touch of adventure to it, which I enjoyed. Not only are the wildlife sightings good, you get to zoom around to dive sites in an inflatable dingy and throttle it back onto the beach at the end of each dive session. The dive outfits there are reputable, and the seafood in town is delicious.
The Vibe at Tofo Beach: The Bali of Africa
There are plenty of warm sandy beaches along the coast of East Africa and I love laying on them, but what I really seek is a wild beach. I want it to have a point break for surfing, and a reef I can snorkel and spearfish. Those qualities are more often found in Indonesia, or Costa Rica, and not so much on the East African coast, so I was pleasantly surprised to find them in Tofo.
There seemed to be a core crew surfing at Tofinho every day and at the north end of the beach, I went snorkeling right offshore. In the morning the sunrise seeped through our windows, and at night we sat on the beach and watched the moonlight glimmer off the water. There were no “beach boys” like in Diani (Kenya) or Zanzibar (Tanzania), constantly trying to sell trinkets. It was peaceful when you wanted it to be, but there was also enough ocean adventures to keep busy all day.
The town has more of a beat to it. There are open air markets selling used clothes and fresh fish, hipster bamboo juice bars and at least a couple more expensive looking hotels on the beach. There are pop-up restaurants selling Pakistani tacos (we went three times), and tourists burnt coca-cola red who just seem interested in the bars. It was reminiscent of Kuda Beach (Bali) fifteen years ago. An enjoyable traveler vibe, but already trending towards commercializing into a tourist holiday destination. However, with Mozambique’s difficult history, who knows? It could just remain as it is, and that would be just fine by me.
Notes for Nomads:
I did my scuba diving with Tofo Scuba. I highly recommend them. They were organized, friendly, and had great equipment and competent dive masters. My favorite dive sites were Giant’s Castle, Manta, Salon, and Oficina.
We stayed next to Tofo Scuba at Corasiida’s Guest House, which was convenient for early morning dives, and away from the base of the beach parties in town at night (but close enough to walk to the bars). It is a quiet retreat. Walking north along the beach there is some snorkeling spots, and you can explore the village at Barra.
I wish I had had time to snorkel the lagoon on the way into town, but I chose to go looking for whale sharks daily. The lagoon is supposed to have some great muck snorkeling and I was told there are seahorses, small bull sharks, and leaf fish to find there.
Also, check out more of my underwater wildlife photography.