Tofo Beach is in Inhambane Province, Mozambique. It has been described as "the next Goa", and while this may be pushing it a bit, Tofo has definitely become a traveller's focus on the Eastern coast of Africa. The reasons are not hard to discern: beautiful stretches of beach, a friendly laid-back vibe, a small but pumping nightlife, great diving and snorkeling and a few good restaurants.
By car, follow the paved road from Inhambane through some 30 km of pretty scenery to get to Tofo Beach. The road is generally badly potholed along the entire route so either drive slowly or stay behind a chappa to avoid them.
Most buses will leave you in Inhambane - from there take a chapa (minibus taxi, about 15 MTn (New Metical)) or a private taxi (about 50-100 MTn). If you are lucky there is a big bus leaving to Tofo as well (10 MT).
Buses run from the Maputo junta leaving between 5AM-8AM, straight to Inhambane which take 5-9 hrs, if it doesn't break down. As of 2009 the cost is 270 MTn each plus 50 per bag. Don't get scammed by the "porters" trying to help you with your bag and saying the luggage is 250 MTn each. Buy your baggage ticket directly from the guy with the receipt. Both Fatima's and Base in Maputo offer direct shuttle services from Maputo to Tofo at 500 MTn each (no extra charge for bag), if you are traveling alone then this will save you money compared to taking a taxi to junta and the standard fare. If you happen to be going the same day as Fatima she offers rides for the same price as chappas but with added aircon.
From the airport
Inhambane Airport (INH IATA) is operational M-F from 7AM-5PM, Sat from 8AM-5PM, and opened by (prior) request on Sundays. Customs and Immigration can be organised in advance of arrivals. Fees and taxes apply.
Direct flights are available to Inhambane from Johannesburg.
Inhambane airport is a few km from Tofo. If you exit the airport down the access road the route to Tofo is on your left, thumb a ride or catch a chappa.
Tofo is very small and you'll likely walk everywhere.
Diving and snorkelling
Tofo and surrounds have some truly excellent diving, with nice reefs and excellent large marine life. Whale sharks and humpback whales in season, reef sharks and much other sea life. Don't miss Manta Reef, home of three cleaning stations where the critters really throng. Most of the better dive sites are at around 25-30 m, requiring deep-dive certification (which you can get through one of the dive shops if you don't have it already). Visibility is usually pretty good at around 20 m. Brace yourself for the unique landing upon return from diving - the shops here all gun it and beach the inflatable speed boats at full speed.
- [dead link] Liquid Adventures, Bamboozi Beach Lodge Praia Do, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Full PADI Dive and Watersports Centre with a pool on-site. Dive courses for beginners through to assistant instructor. 10th dive is free. Daily ocean safaris - snorkeling trips with whalesharks, dolphins and sometimes manta rays. Surfing and bodyboard rentals with lessons from a Mozambiquan surf champ. Island Kayak trips - day trip to Ila Do Inhambane. Dive and stay packages available at on-sight lodge, Bamboozi Beach Lodge. Pick ups/drop offs in town and at the airport.
- Diversity Scuba, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 5 star IDC Centre, friendly and professional staff. Single dives start at R310, excluding equipment and get cheaper with more, 10th dive is free. Courses from beginner to instructor. A PADI open water course available. Professional videos are available. Discounts available for using your own equipment. Specialises in small groups and customer service, onsite pool, Equipment shop, video department, rooftop snack bar.
- Tofo Scuba, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Professional outfit based at Casa Barry Lodge. Single dives start at R370 and get cheaper as you do more. A 4-dive PADI open water course is R3100. Discounts available for using your own equipment. This is the busiest shop in Tofo and handles many divers per day.
- Peri-Peri Divers, Albatroz Lodge (overlooking Tofo Beach, walk from the market towards Casa Barry and beachfront signs will direct you), ☎ , . A relaxed, very friendly and professional operation with over 15 years of local diving experience. Trips cater for all ages and experience levels, including whaleshark ocean safaris, beginner to advanced dives at over 20 sites, PADI training courses and dive packages in association with neighbouring Albatroz Lodge, stay and dive packages also with Fatimas Backpackers. A key sponsor of the Manta and whaleshark research centre in tofo. Scientists on the boats most trips. Trip videos as well as scuba video courses are available.
- [dead link] Dive Tours to Tofo. Fly in from Johannesburg to Tofo on a "fly stay and dive package" with accommodation at Casa Barry Lodge.
- Surfing Tofinio is a good surf spot, and Tofo beach is good for beginners, you can hire boards at "the waterworks" right next to Diversity Scuba.
- Snorkeling is a must... swimming with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world is incredibly special. Although their mouths are over a meter wide and their bodies 8 m long they are harmless. if you're lucky you may also get to swim with wild dolphins. Swimming with whales is prohibited, although when you realize how big they are you'll be happy to see them from the boat. Inquire with the dive shops about trips.
Currency in Tofo Beach is the Mozambican (new) metical (MTn), or officially (MZN)
- Mozambican art, right in front of the beach.
- Chillis deli, at the petrol station outside Tofo (on the main road towards Tofo, just after Barbalaas), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-17:00. Fresh bread and cakes daily, cold meats, sausages and cheeses. Wide stock of imported speciality foods. Deli sandwiches and ready-made meals.
- If you are self-catering buying fresh prawns and crayfish is simple - local fishermen will pass by most cottages every morning. A fair price is 100 MTn/kg for prawns and 150 MTn/kg for crayfish. Beware of broken scales over-reading, it is a good idea to test them with a known weight like a 1 kg bottle of water.
- The Restaurante Ferroviara offers a fairly good range of seafood dishes.
- Casa Barry. Restaurant with a great wooden terrace overlooking the sea. Selection of international wines, also the only restaurant that is computerized, ensuring speed when asking for your bill. Has accommodation.
- Dino's Bar and Restaurant. midway between Fatima's Nest and Bamboozi Backpackers. A beach party spot with a roofed-off open-air bar. They do some decent food including good pizza. Bonfires on the beach at night.
- Black and White, (in a shed at the market). Offers local food for local prices. Will prepare fish purchased at the market for a small charge.
- Bread Shack, (next to Fatimas Place). Small dishes with home made bread.
- Casa de Comer. Seafood dishes as well as good international cuisine. Cosy, romantic with good service.
- The water works. A surf shop that also serves excellent breakfast and lunch, you can also trade books and DVDs there.
- Bamboozi Can be a little bit pricey but has quality food and a great all-you-can-eat seafood buffet on Friday evenings as well as Wednesday night Pizza Buffet. It has an awesome view of the bay. The seafood pasta is good value and is insanely tasty.
- Babalaza, (from Tofo follow the road back to Inhambane until you reach the T-junction, the restaurant is on your left). Good restaurant if you have your own transport.
- Turtle Cove, (a 10 min walk on the road from Tofo to Inhambane). The food is prepared one meal at a time, so if you order as part of a group you'll probably all get your food at different times. It's excellent food, though, so worth it. They also have a nicely stocked bar. Open air dining room/bar area. Go early and enjoy a beer and the sunset sitting in the hammock or oversized couches.
- EmpireFood Tofo (behind the market). Small traditional restaurant with regional dishes, home-baked bread, vegetarian and other tasty specialities. Here you can eat bunny chow + donuts. A cosy place to be with friends, just 2 min away from the beach. Open 6 days a week from 7am
- Tofo Tofo restaurant, Tofo beach (next to police station), ☎ . Authentic local place, serves many different traditional dishes with curries and seafood available in a great atmosphere. Also has well supplied shop. Be prepared to wait (a hour plus) if they are busy.
- Bottled water is widely available in Tofo, there is a clean source of local drinking water.
- You can buy your own beer from the shops on the road to Inhambane if you want to save a little money. When buying beer try to get cans rather than bottles, most bars and taverns will ask you not to take bottles away or you can pay a deposit on it. These deposits are hard to get back as vendors seldom have money to pay you or just aren't willing and will coax you into accepting a trade.
- Going to taverns on the outskirts of town on Sunday afternoons are worthwhile to get away from the more popular tourist spots. You'll find friendly locals willing to share a drink and a few laughs.
- Local rums and gins are inexpensive but you'll need some courage. Tipo Tinto is a good local rum!
- Fatima's Nest (Fatima's Nest backpackers). Every night party place, where you can enjoy different kinds of drinking games with the staff.
- Dino's Bar and Restaurant. Although probably the least authentic this is one of the more popular spots to go for a decent meal or drinks.
- [dead link] Fatima's Nest (Located between Dino's Bar and the market area a 10 min walk on the road from Tofo to Inhambane.), e-mail: email@example.com. Fatima, the owner of Fatima's Place in Maputo, has opened a backpackers' in Tofo. There are bungalows, permanent tents, and a campsite. Shower facilities are available. Pool table, beachfront location and every day activities organized by the staff. The staff often laying on local music, dance and even beach theatre, and the bar is pumping well into the night on many an occasion. Dorms 350 MTn/person, Chalets 500 MTn/person, camping 350 MTn/person.
- Bamboozi Backpackers, ☎ , (Bookings based in South Africa), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A quieter, relaxed, much nicer spot further up the beach with better food, run by South Africans with Liquid Adventures PADI dive center on site. All you can eat pizza buffet every Wednesday night for about 250 MTn, good value for money. Restaurant/bar high on a sand dune overlooking a quiet, pristine beach. This place is charming and if you are ready to splurge a little, the sea view chalets are worth the extra money. Dorms, huts, chalets and even a honeymoon suite R90-600/night.
- Turtle Cove is also quieter than Fatima's. It's a 10-min walk from town away from the beach on the way to Inhambane. They have a selection of separate chalets and dorms. The dorms have walls and screens, but still use the provided mosquito netting as the walls are pretty porous. That keeps things cool at night, though. The food is quite good, although the kitchen is run by just a couple of people so it takes a while to get your meal and if you order in even a small group you're likely to get your food at different times. The showers are in a block, uncovered but with reed walls that can't be seen through. They don't have shower heads but do have hot water! Dorms and chalets are 240 MTn (about US$10) per person per night.
- Casa Azul, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A beautiful little pension with a great tree house, although the other rooms are nice too. Relaxed family-style. 400-900 MTn.
- Hotel Marinhos, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A large hotel, right on the beach with great views. 940,000-2,785,000 MTn.
- Casa Barry Lodge, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. By far the most upmarket accommodation in the whole Tofo area. a full range from single sleeper with bathrooms attached to 4 and 6 sleeper self catering chalets and cabanas. This lodge is on the beach and claims to have the best restaurant and deck in town. It also has dive facilities and is home to the Manta and Whale Shark Research Centre. 24-hr security on site and beach.
- Mango Beach Lodge & Restaurant, Beach Road (Head north on Beach Road, past Dino's and Tofo Scuba and follow the road past Aquatica and Driftwood (about 3 km from Tofo center)), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. They claim to have the best view of Tofo Bay and also promote sun-downers, lunch and dinner in their restaurant.
Tofinho is at the far southern end of Tofo Beach, about a 30-min walk.
Tofo is a paradisaical locale, but the recent influx of tourists has brought problems that the local police are ill-equipped to deal with. Bag-nabbing is rife, so be sure that there is always someone to watch over your valuables on the beach. The beach walk between Fatima's, Dino's and Bamboozi is entirely unlit, and women should not walk it alone or in the company of strangers at night. There have been... incidents.
Jellyfish can also be a real nuisance in some seasons - a long sleeve shirt can be a good option for swimming. Watch where you step.