Every thrill under the sun

2011-02-12 08:23

The fine white sand falling between my toes tickles, but this isn’t the only thing that gives me itchy feet when I’m on holiday.

If, like me, you want to take in as much as possible on your picture-perfect beach holiday, then the Mozambican coast at Tofo is ideal for you.

For those who get a thrill from sitting, or can recharge while reclining, then Tofo offers endless kilometres of wide shoreline to do just that.

For those who relax by squandering energy on, below or by the water, here is a destination that caters for you too.

If visiting sites of historic interest is the best way to wind down, the nearby town of Inhambane, steeped in antiquity, ticks that box.

As a travel destination, Tofo and Inhambane suffer from multiple personality syndrome.

Its identity flits between an adrenaline junkie, culture vulture and beach bum. In doing so, it provides handsomely for all types of holidaymakers.

The Indian Ocean that laps and crashes on to this part of southern Mozambique reflects its duplicitous nature.

The beach bums can flit in and out of the surf, sporadically cooling their sun-baked skin.

If the prospect of being rolled by the occasional wave is too daunting, why not try the large tidal pools?

Perpetually scorched by the sun, these saltwater baths heat up to a balmy temperature, and provide a more “chilled” spot in which to cool down.

Adrenaline junkies are overwhelmed by the aquatic offerings of Tofo.

This particular stretch of coastline teems with awe-inspiring fish, rays, whales and sharks. Known as the whale shark Mecca, Tofo is where swimming with these graceful, huge, harmless and elusive creatures can nearly be
guaranteed.

Several accessible underwater Manta Ray “cleaning stations” have been discovered, where these balletic beasts glide through shoals of feeder fish to have parasites nibbled from their skin.

Scuba diving does not suit everyone and if bobbing on the surface is more appealing, ocean safaris leave from the beach daily.

A two-hour trip pounding through the waves on a high-powered inflatable, gives snorkellers a chance to get up close and personal with whale sharks, dolphins and even humpback whales.

While thrillseekers push their limits, beach bums have other tranquil options.

Turtle Cove, a guesthouse nestled in the sand dunes of neighbouring Tofinho, offers regular yoga retreats.

Deep-sea fishing for big game fish, including Marlin and Barracuda, is a popular activity.

For the majority who don’t bring their own boat, charters and tackle hire are available from several lodges.

The relatively new adventure sport of kite surfing has also made it to Tofo.

All that is needed is a good gust, the right gear and enough H2O to skim along.

The beach provides the wind and water, and equipment is available to hire along the waterfront.

Lessons in this exhilarating pastime are also available.

Culture vultures have plenty to marvel at in Inhambane town, just 22 kilometres of tarmac away.

As one of the oldest settlements on the Mozambican coast, Inhambane has a dubious past, including stints as a bustling slavery and ivory port.

Where once human beings and elephant tusks were being loaded on to Arab-style dhows for foreign lands, a sleepy and weather-beaten post-colonial town thrives.

In keeping with many other coastal towns on the east African coast, differing architecture competes for space on wide boulevards.

Art Deco restaurants look down on Portuguese-style villas, while modern glass-fronted offices reflect reed-walled dwellings.

The Cultural House, or Casa de Cutura, near the centre of town houses a boutique store called Dathonga, which specialises in bespoke Africana craft.

More traditional and widely available crafts, such as carvings, batik bags and weaved wallets, can be found in abundance at the easily navigable municipal market.

It is easy to work up a hearty appetite exploring Inhambane, and an excellent way to satisfy it is at Verdinho’s just off the main boulevard on Avenida Accord du Lusaka.

The conspicuous bright green paint job wouldn’t be necessary for it to stand out, being housed as it is in an striking Deco building.

The menu is extensive, surroundings are pleasant, and the beverages cold.

Back in Tofo, good dining isn’t a problem either.

Beach bars, village restaurants and guesthouses all have kitchens that cater to patrons and visitors.

Seafood is the preferred dish of choice.

Prawns, lobsters, calamari and fish are caught, put on ice and then placed directly on to plates.

A small fish market in town sees vendors selling catches of the day from iceboxes at reasonable prices for those who are catering for themselves.

One of the charms of Tofo is that the clientele is varied.

This non-discriminatory atmosphere blends holidaymakers together, and if some people prefer isolated breaks, the beach is long and wide enough to find some solitude. 

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