A spearfishing holiday in magical Mozambique staying on the peninsula at Ponta Barra.

Ponta da Barra - Mozambique

I was recently in Mozambique for a holiday, staying in a private house on the Barra peninsula. Here are some details in case any other divers would like to venture to this paradise.

The distance from Durban is approximately 1100km, being 620km to Maputo and then another 485km to Barra. The road is tar except for the last 7km where a 4x4 is needed. The road is surprisingly good with just the odd pothole that needs to be avoided. There is a safe lock-up for 2x4 vehicles that costs R5 per day. There is a collection service provided to the two resorts on the peninsula. A two-way radio is provided at the lock-up for this purpose. The road trip takes you on the N2 north past Mkuze. 30km+ after Mkuze you turn right to the Golela border post with Swaziland. You travel the length of Swaziland going through Big Bend. There are two turning points on this leg where you can go the wrong way, so a map is needed. You are headed for the Lomahasha border post. There is a confusing sign 10km or so before you get to the border announcing the border gate is to your left. This sign needs to be ignored as it is sending you off to some distant border post. There is a tollgate as you approach Maputo which costs a couple or rands and can be paid in rand or meticas. We overnighted 45kms the other side of Maputo on the EN1 highway which is the main route north. The stop was called Casa Lisa and is marked by a small sign on the highway. You can camp here or stay in pleasant cottages which cost R150 per person per night. There is a friendly bar where you can get a good meal. It is safe for boats and trailers and guards are on duty at night. It is advisable to stick to the speed limit especially as you go through the many towns on the EN1 route. Here you are restricted to 60km and I saw some unhappy holiday makers being pulled over after being caught by a radar gun for speeding. We had no trouble with officials and were never stopped by police as was the norm a few years back.

There are two resorts on the Barra peninsula, Barra Lodge and Barra Reef. Both provide camp sites from R35-R50 a night per person. Then there are a range of huted accommodation from casitas that sleep 2 and cost from R180 per night for the casita, villas that sleep 4 and cost R500 per villa and then cottages that sleep 6 for just over R100 a night per person. Both places have bars and restaurants and the mood is very relaxed. The setting is very beautiful and would probably fit most peoples idea of paradise. Locals come to your door selling fresh prawns most days for the equivalent of R25/kg. A boat can be launched anywhere on the protected beach which stretches for some kms. A permit from the local authorities is needed and costs 505000 meticas(R213) and is valid for 1 month. There is a lot of reef on the lighthouse point going out into 20+m. This is mostly fished out but still has gamefish. A sea chart of the area shows some pinicles 12kms out to sea that come up to 18m. These are the spots to dive and are good for many different types of gamefish. I shot cuda, prodigal-son and big yellowspot kingfish. The kingfish are in shoals numbering many hundreds. I also caught some big lobster, mostly around 3kgs with one over 4kgs. Really good eating with half a tail making a full meal. Mosquitoes were not plentiful as there is no fresh water close by for breeding in. We had water from a borehole that was nice to drink so I would imagine the resorts have the same.

The city of Inhambane is approximately 20kms away and has a good market where a range of fresh vegetables can be bought plus the local bread or'pao' which is great to eat when fresh and a deadly weapon when a day old. Ice or 'gelo' can be bought in town and there is a gas agent. The local bank (BCM) readily changes rand for the local currency of meticas. It is always better to pay for fuel and provisions with the local currency. The restaurant opposite the bank is very good. Dhows can be hired to take you across to Maxixe for lunch. The going rate is about 100000 meticas (R42). More fun is catching the local ferry which is much cheaper and provides loads of entertainment. The city also offers an airport, hospital, post office, public telephones and restaurants. Being the second oldest city in Mozambique, Inhambane is steeped in history. Tofo is the other main resort in the area and offers a hotel with a nice view veranda over Tofo bay and there are some restaurants here as well. While I was in Inhambane petrol was R4.34/ltr and diesal R3.53/ltr. The exchange rate was 2370 meticas to the rand. This place definately has a certain magic to it and I will definately be going back. Happy holiday!

Contact numbers:
Barra reef bookings: tel. 09258 232 0864
Barra lodge: tel. 27(011) 3143355