The African Galapagos: Diving in Vilankulo

The African Galapagos: Diving in Vilankulo

Beach Essentials

Where: Bazaruto Archipelago, Inhambane, Mozambique, South East Africa
When: June to August
Activities: Tour the Bazaruto Islands by dhow and go diving in area with some of the richest concentration of marine life in the world
Best sights: The walrus-like dugong and Humpback whales

Where It’s At

Vilanculo, on the east coast of the province of Inhambane about a 500 mile bus ride north of Maputo, is the gateway to the stunning Bazaruto Archipelago. Often compared to the Galapagos Islands in South America, this is the premier place to dive in Africa.

Beach Atmosphere

The town has a thriving nightlife, luxury lodges, and white sand beaches that make this a tropical paradise. From the beach at Vilanculo you can look out at the islands of the archipelago. It’s a great place to take a walk and buy from the local people selling their crafts on the beach. Although small, the town has cafes, internet cafes, a market, and a few hostels. Vilanculo is a relaxed base from which you can organise a boat to tour the Bazaruto Islands. To get to the islands either barter for a dhow, the local fishing boats, or join an expedition with Sail Away, the tour company in town.

Day Tips

If you’re feeling flush, take a boat out to Bazaruto Island and book into the exclusive Indigo Bay Resort where you could experience the perfect tropical island holiday. It will set you back anything from $175 a night. If that’s out of your budget but you still want to be based on the island, it is possible to camp but numbers are limited. You’ll need to find out about this from the tourist office in the town.

Diving Attractions

Declared a national marine life park in 1990, the islands are pristine with clean white sands, crystal clear waters, and excellent coral reefs. Bazaruto is the largest of the five islands, whose waters are home to over eighty percent of all marine fish families of the Indo-Pacific oceans.
Diving is a must here. Species to spy include the dugong, a large underwater herbivorous grazer similar to a walrus, although there are only 30 left in the area. You may also see sailfish, Black Tail Reef sharks, Blue-banded snapper, Manta rays, Spotted Eagle rays, barracuda, and perhaps a Zambezi shark – plus a whole array of corals.

The visibility in the waters around the Bazaruto Archipelago is excellent. The best dive spots areTwo Mile Reef, Five Mile Reef, Turtle Ridge, Rainbow Runner Reef, Manta Ray Reef andPotholes.

When to Go

The southern hemisphere winter season is from May to September and the best time to go to Vilanculo is June to August when rainfall and temperatures are lower and the risk of catching malaria is reduced. During this period you may also see Humpback whales and Manta rays.

More Information

Indigo Bay Island Resort
Website for the resort with great photos and descriptions of all the main dive spots.

By Faye Welborn

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