Bazaruto Archipelago Diving Facts

The Archipelago consists of four main islands along with a few other rocky outcrops. These are accessed through the town of Vilanculos (“scheduled” flights on LAM from Maputo and a charter flight from Johannesburg):

Bazaruto Island

Benguerra Island

Magaruque Island

Santa Carolina Island

Bazaruto Island and Benguerra Island each have a number of resorts which offer outstanding scuba diving facilities but again these resorts are not cheap.  Flights depart on a Monday and Friday only so the minimum time that one is able to spend at any one of these resorts is 4 nights/5 days and, with the 24 hours surface interval time between surfacing from your last dive till you board your flight, this does not allow for much diving!!  You must allow at least 7 nights/8 days to do any of these sights justice.  You need time to dive Moz!!

The Bazaruto Archipelago

The Bazaruto Archipelago is a chain of tiny islands, Bazaruto Island, Benguerra Island, Margaruque, and Santa Carolina or Paradise Island, roughly 20km (12 miles) off the coast of Mozambique.

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These islands form part of the Bazaruto National Park. The islands unique and isolated ecosystem ensures near pristine diving conditions in warm water heated by the Mozambique Eddies, with an amazing tropical sea life of brightly coloured corals, anemones, fish and turtles to enjoy, while saltwater fly-fishing is growing in popularity in the Archipelago.

In order to get to the Archipelago you would have to fly from Johannesburg International to a small town called Vilanculos on the Mozambique coast. From Vilanculos you would need a transfer to the island of your choice. This transfer would be either by boat or by sea-plane, depending on the weather. Flights from Johannesburg / Vilanculos / Johannesburg are daily.

Most of the lodges (except Bazaruto Lodge) are situated on the landward side of the islands, so as to be protected from the winds coming in off the ocean, with a result that it is about a 45 minute to an hour boat ride to get from these lodges to the seaward side of the islands where all the diving takes place. There is no diving on the landward side of the islands, as its all sandbanks. By staying at a lodge on the landward side of an island you spend more time in the boat getting to and from the dive sites than you do actually diving.If you are an avid scuba diver your choice of lodge is of paramount importance.

There are two Lodges on Benguerra Island, one caters mainly for game fishermen and the other for divers.

On Bazaruto Island there are also two hotels, one a very modern "Club Med" type hotel Anantara Resort & Spa http://bazaruto.anantara.com/ , which is very far from any dive site and the other, Bazaruto Lodge, http://www.pestana.com/en/pestana-bazaruto-lodge/pages/home.aspx on the north end of the island and very close to the dive sites. They are currently building a hotel on Santa Carolina but it's not operational yet. There is nothing on Margaruque.

Due to the nature of the continental shelf around the islands, its very shallow, this linked to the tidal variance, about 3 meters between high and low tide, you can only dive from 1 hour before high tide to 1 hour after high tide and again from 1 hour before low tide to 1 hour after low tide. This effectively only gives you a 4 hour "window" in a 24 hour period during which you can dive. When you take in surface interval time between dives and travelling time to get to the dive site this leaves very little dive time available. Anything outside this "window" is impossible to dive due to the ripping current brought on by the changing of the tides. The further out to sea you go the less impact this tidal varience has on the dive. When diving the reefs off Inhambane, Pemba and Ponta Mamoli this tidal varience has no effect on the diving at all.

Please also remember that this is not a "multi - dive" destination, meaning that you will not be able to do 5 or 6 dives a day. The most you will be able to do is 2 dives a day. The reason for this being that the difference between high and low tides is about 3 meters and the reefs being quite shallow have a ripping 4 knot current running through, so the only time to dive is between one hour before high and low tides to one hour after high and low tides. Diving any time in-between you would be swept a long with the current!! But the diving is spectacular.

Lastly, and alas, the reefs off the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago are not as pristine as the reefs off the other dive destinations like Ponta do Ouro / Mamoli, the reefs off Inhambane like Barra and Tofo and the reefs further north off Pemba. This is due to human impact from the inhabitants living on the islands as the reefs on the seaward side of the islands are easily accessible to the locals as fishing reefs, compared to the reefs at the other locations I've mentioned which are not as easily accessible as the reefs off the Bazaruto Archipelago, and are therefore far more pristine with more fish life.

If its just diving you are looking for then Barra / Tofo off Inhambane is, in my opinion, the best place on the Mozambique coast to dive, followed by Medjumbe and Matemo Islands in the Quirimbas, accessible via Pemba, but this is very expensive, in excess of US$ 300 per person per day, followed by the dive sites off Ponta Mamoli in the far south of the country.

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Bazaruto Archipelago Diving

Overview:

The best diving months are from April to September. Please note that from September to November, the weather is mostly good but visibility can be reduced due to plankton. If you are an avid diver, then April to August will give the best visibility. December to March is usually when tropical storms occur, especially around February and March.

Near dives:

Far dives: