9 Reasons Tofo Is The Best Beach Holiday You’ve Never Heard Of
Swim with whale sharks, chill out on quiet beaches, and soak up all the rum...
When it comes to beach holidays, we’re all guilty of jumping to the obvious suggestions - Thailand, the Mediterranean, Down Under, *insert generic gap year location ad infinitum*.
But with predictability comes laziness and, increasingly, over-crowding.
Which is why we’re here to introduce you to a lesser-known destination - and one sure to jump to the top of your Must Visit list.
Introducing… Mozambique’s Tofo Beach - arguably Africa’s most secret beachside oasis, a natural smorgasbord that offers world-class scuba diving and snorkelling, jaw-dropping marine wildlife, a surprisingly fascinating eco-sustainable undercurrent, and a vibe so blissed out, you’ll be Hakuna Matata-ing before you know it.
As if you needed more persuading, we give you nine reasons it needs to jump to the top of your Bucket List.
It’s a veritable underwater nirvana
Scuba diver or not, Tofo Beach is a must-visit for its incredible underwater wildlife.
From warbling humpback whales to playful dolphins, gliding manta rays/sea pancakes, whale sharks, and around 829,029* species of fish, Tofo’s unique placement in the Indian ocean means its home to all manner of marine life - and the perfect place to snorkel or scuba.
Before visiting Mozambique, I could not scuba dive. But after friends told me of Tofo’s gorgeous beaches and Disney-esque marine megafauna, I figured it was time to grab the water-bull by the wet-horns, and attempt to.
Turns out, it’s the perfect place. Not only do you have the aforementioned wildlife to stare at along the way, but Peri-Peri Divers is as chilled as it is instructive, offering the perfect mix of cheery encouragement to aptly off-set your 'I AM A GROWN-UP WHY CAN'T I DO THIS' frustrations.
Enter the ocean itself, and you're basically privy to your own personal, interactive episode of Blue Planet. Vibrantly coloured shoals of fish shimmy past, humpback whales sing around you, and - if you're lucky - you'll even get to swim alongside dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks and much, much more.
Simply put, it's one of the best locations to dive on the planet.
Oh, and did we mention they have two adorable puppies running around the dive site?
Because they do and they are ADORABLE.
It’s eco and sustainable af
For such a small town, Tofo more than does its part to protect the incredible scenery and wildlife around it.
Tofo is home to the Marine Megafauna Foundation Research Centre, an organisation that aims to educate, research and converve the ocean's wildlife by working with local governments and communities to protect threatened marine species. MMF host talks in the town three times a week on Whale Sharks, Manta Rays and other fishy favourites, and it's an infectiously educational intro to a very important cause.
Not only that, but Mozambeats' owner Sisi is leading the charge in an attempt for Tofo to become Africa's first waste-neutral eco-town, as well as attempting to increase ocean awareness via the newly formed non-profit organisation Nhatofo Salva-Vidas, which is raising money to fund lifeguards on the beach.
Considering the high rates of drowning in ocean towns across Africa, it's an important cause that will not only save lives, but help build towards a more sustainable tourism future.
It's home to Africa’s most blissed-out motel
Straying further afield from the standard backpacking routes is literal accommodation roulette.
But Tofo is home to arguably Africa's most vibrant, colourful, chilled out and downright friendly hotel/hostel/motel around, Mozambeat Motel.
Those on a budget can pitch up a tent or stay in one of the dorms, and for just a little more (and still a bargain by any Western standards), you can grab yourself a suite (with en-suite if you really want to indulge) - replete with outdoor bathroom (showering under the stars never gets old), a porch and hammock (brace yourself - naps are coming), and wonderful, wonderful air con.
Throw in worryingly comfortable open-air communal areas, a huge pool, and an unendingly stocked bar, and you're onto a winner.
But its the ethos running through the place that really sucks you in. Each room is named/themed around a different iconic musician, there are different activities almost every night (including movie screenings, happy hours, and poker nights), and owners Sisi and Ray are fully invested in helping support the community (while visiting, the Motel hosted a fundraising event, replete with fashion runway, pool party, cookout and movie screening.
There's a reason why many visitors book for one night, and leave weeks later.
Its beaches are GORGEOUS
No convincing needed.
Look at them.
Welcome to Tofo time
Much is made about detaching from the 9-5, and endless slog of modern life.
It doesn't matter whether you're a Snapchat junkie or a Twitter addict, Tofo will force you to slow the hell down.
Not only is internet pretty sparse, but the blazing heat and refreshingly unpopulated tourist trade means that the pace is that much slower, that much quieter, and that much more zen-inducing.
The locals are actually local
With popularity inevitably comes gentrification, and an uncomfortable feeling that the very place you've travelled to see has been subsumed by your very presence.
But Tofo still retains a refreshing balance between locals and tourists - tourism hasn't overrun Tofo, rather it's integrated itself in a way that deftly respects local traditions and businesses, whilst offering potential for a more prosperous future. Head down to the town centre on a Sunday night for its regular live music/dance session, and you'll see anyone and everyone mingling harmoniously.
It’s a foody’s heaven
Inhale your body weight in local cuisine, including the troublingly delicious Matapa (cassava leaves, garlic, onion, and coconut milk), and - confusingly - some of the best pizza outside of Italy, at Branko's.
Astonishingly affordable, amazingly delicious.
The world's biggest fish is, ironically, one of its most elusive.
While nature is always, obviously, unpredictable, Tofo is one of the rare places that can all but guarantee you a gander at the joyfully Pixar-esque mega-fish all year round - and even better, you don't even know how to scuba dive to do so.
Hop aboard an Ocean Safari (we'd recommend Peri-Peri Divers), head out on a boat and, well, they're not hard to miss. Get in the water and lose near-hours swimming alongside (at a respectful distance, obvs).
Serene, stunning and guaranteed to awake the Inner Attenborough in you all.
Getting there is an adventure in itself
Most people fly into Mozambique capital Maputo, and transfer to Tofo from there. Your options are internal flights (an hour, expensive, not entirely reliable), taxis (seven hours, not much cheaper), or 'chapas' - the cheapest and most iconic Mozabique transportation available.
Super-cheap, hilariously crammed (the video below is actually a pretty roomy example), and erratically timed (not only are there no actual schedules, but the duration can vary depending on how many stops are made), it's the epitome of 'an experience'.
But hey, life's an adventure, and it's a telling sign that even if you do spend 11 hours schmooshed into the back of a minivan, Tofo Beach is more than worth the wait.
MTV Travelled With... Peri-Peri Divers, who offer Open Water PADI diving courses - inc. 5 pool dives, all theory training, and 4 sea dives - from $420 USD (puppies come as standard) , and Mozambeat Motel, who offer rooms from $30 per night, a 30% discount in January 2018, and work closely with Peri-Peri to offer a further discount on 'Stay & Dive' packages. MTV Flew With... South African Airlines, who offer double daily overnight flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg and easy onward connections to Maputo, South African Airways offers flights to the largest route network within Southern Africa. Book now on flysaa.com or call 0844 375 9680.