Scuba Diving In Tofo
Tofo Beach could be labelled as Mozambique’s diving hot spot, considering the world wide popularity, which the small fishing village gained over the last few years in the international diving community. Divers mainly come to Tofo Beach to see Whale Sharks and Manta Rays, which can be seen all year around. But also Humpback Whales on their migration route from July until early November attract more and more ocean lovers to the Inhambane coast. The amazing Underwater World around Tofo offers many amazing species and the sea-bed is unique and special. The waters of the Indian ocean are very rich in Nutrition and carry large amounts of plankton.
Whale Sharks can be seen on so called “Ocean Safaris”, where the resident dive shops take their guests out on 2 hour Snorkel Trips, where mainly Whale Sharks, but also dolphins and Manta Rays can be spotted. Once a Whale Shark is spotted, the snorkelers are smoothly led into the water, in order to swim up to 45 minutes with the harmless ocean giants.
The two hour adventure is a remarkable experience and can be done by visitors who don’t have a diving licence, or lots of ocean experience. Safety is the highest priority of the dive shops in Tofo and rescue jackets are requirements on all diving boats.
The other attraction off Tofo Beach, are the Manta Rays, who are mainly spotted on the so called “Cleaning Stations”. Diving the reefs around Tofo Beach varies in depths between 20 to 30 metres and the largest rays come during day light to be cleaned on the colourful soft coral formations. Divers can observe smaller cleaner fish, eating pesticides from the Manta Rays. The ballet of the Manta Rays are a very special experience and a highlight for every diver.
Suggested diving resorts in the area:
Blue Footprints Eco Lodge
This world class reef is not to be missed and is named after the Mantas that visit the three cleaning stations. Currents continually flow over the reef and attract the mantas with as many as 10 seen at one time. Each manta will circle the cleaning station, while wrasses and sergeants pluck parasites from its mouth, skin and gills. The mantas can be curious and it is not uncommon for them to swoop down and take a closer look at divers. The currents can be strong and can pull you off the site so generally divers kneel on the sand and observe the mantas before finishing the dive with a 20 minute drift dive. Many fish species thrive here due to the constant currents and Manta Reef is often a hive of activity. Schools of Bluestriped snappers, fusiliers and Bigeyes congregate in the overhangs while Goldies, and butterfly fish dart amongst the carpet of sea anemones. A resident Potato cod nestles amongst the mini canyons at the Manta Pinnacles, 1 of the 3 cleaning stations and giant moray eels hide in the many holes and cracks along the rocky ridge.
Giants Castle – Depth: 20-28m, Suitable for: Advanced
This reef earned its name, when every creature spotted here was twice the size than normal! So be ready for encounters with huge Potato Bass, Moray´s and massive Manta´s at the cleaning stations. The reef is a 7m high wall that runs for 300metres and because of the currents, can be an excellent and exciting drift dive. The top of the wall is at 27m and has ledges, overhangs and little craters, which hide smaller geometric and white mouth morays. The top of the wall is decorated at various intervals by delicate green tree corals providing refuge to lots of Goldies. Lobster, Surgeon and Scorpion fish are in abundance too. Ascents can be a bit special too as game fish such as Barracuda and Kingfish and Devil rays often come by for a look.
Pria da Rocha – Depth: 10-30m, Suitable for: All levels
This reef is made up of lots of huge boulders, all cut away on the bottom to form a maze of gullies and swim-throughs to the point where it resembles a grotto. A vast variety of soft coral can also be found on this reef. There are caves to look into for Devil Firefish, Cleaner Shrimp and Crayfish. If you look in the nooks and crannies you´ll find Spanish Dancers, multicoloured Nudibranches, Geometric and Zebra morays, and under overhangs and ledges you may find reef sharks, large spiny Lobster, Octopus and Squid. This is an offshore reef and is therefore not generally affected by currents but can be affected by surge as the shore side of the reef is a rock face (as the name suggests ‘Place of the Rocks’). It is therefore not dived with a large swell running.
Mike´s Cupboard – Depth: 12-15m, Suitable for: All levels
This is a huge plinth of rock that comes up from the sand at 17m to the top at 14m. It would be quite flat if it wasn´t for the huge craters or potholes that have been gouged out of the rock, giving this dive some incredible topography to cover. This is truly a busy place with schools of Bluebanded Snappers, Coachmen, Angelfish, Trumpetfish, Kingfish and Tuna passing by. Camouflage specialists such as Paperfish, Scorpionfish, Crocodile fish and Lizardfish hide amongst the rocks or in the potholes and moray eels find homes in the many rock crevices. Banded shrimps and lionfish share space in the overhangs with a resident loggerhead turtle and huge shoals of fusiliers hover over the reef which supports a number of different species juvenile tropical fish.
This reef is shaped like a horseshoe and on either side the walls reach a height of about 7m high. At 14 meters around the top and 19 metres around the base it forms a ragged wall lined with 6 swim throughs and numerous overhangs and caves. Morays, Lizardfish, Trumpetfish, Lionfish, Scorpionfish, and a multitude of reef fish can be spotted in the caves and under ledges. The centre of the horseshoe is a flat, white sandy area frequented by Blue Spotted Rays, Blue Stingrays and Whip-Tailed rays. This is also the reef with the best chance of seeing Whale Sharks on Scuba, as it is in the path of the migrating Whale Sharks.
Anchor Bay – Depth: 9-12m, Suitable for: All levels
This is a large flat circular reef made up of rock and large plate corals with an assortment of beautiful soft corals and sponges. A big ships anchor is nestled amongst the reef and gives this site its name. An assortment of juvenile fish can be found here such as Emperor Angelfish, baby Lionfish, Butterfly and Clown fish. A family of Titan Trigger fish are often seen here along with Crocodile fish, Stonefish, Lionfish, Scorpionfish and often a school of juvenile Barracuda. This is one of the only inshore reefs where Manta’s can be seen, often cavorting on the surface. It is common to see Whale Sharks, Humpback and Bryde’s Whales on the journey. With no current and little surge Anchor Bay is a favourite for divers in training and for those who want a long slow shallow dive to help them get back into the swing of things. As an added bonus, this is one of the only in-shore reefs where you can see Manta´s, usually frolicking on the surface.
Amazon – Depth: 20-28m, Suitable for: Advanced
Amazon is a spectacular rock formation with a wall along the one side and a flattened area on the other side with big gullies, hollows and crevices where a great variety of marine life can be found. Green tree coral are in abundance and provide the namesake ´Amazon´ for this dive site. Huge schools of barracuda and stumpnose fish cruise along the wall while clouds of goldies swarm the coral along with sweepers, fusiliers and dominoes. Whip coral and anemones cling to the rock and resident turtles and white tip reef sharks can be found hiding in the two caves along the wall. Manta Rays are sometimes encountered here along with Devil and Eagle rays. This is a fantastic dive site that delivers a huge variety of fish and occasionally… whales!
The Office – Depth: 18-30m, Suitable for: Advanced
The actual site is a rock shelf that rises from the sea floor 70metres below. This reef has a flat part on the Northern side and further on there is a part that have some small caves and overhangs as well as a wall in some places with hollows and crevices where huge resident Honeycomb Moray, Turtle and Potato Bass reside. Pinnacles of rock also jut out from the wall where multitudes of Goldies, Butterfly fish and Moorish Idols congregate to add lots of moving colour. The topography is reminiscent of Manta Reef and Office even has its own Manta cleaning station, so encounters with Manta´s are very common.
Guinjata Bay Reef – Depth: 9-21m, Suitable for: All levels
The outer ledge of the reef drops to 21 meters while other areas of the reef come up to 9 meters. There are four dive sites on the reef, which have names like ‘the Cave’ (small amphitheatre 9m – 14m), ‘Pao Ledge’ (bread loaf like ledge with lots of nudibranchs and leafish 13m – 21m) and ‘Batfish Pinnacle’ (plenty of batfish 9m – 14m). Devil’s Peak (12 – 18m) is an almost free standing rock with a swim-through and is home to Potato Bass, banded cleaner shrimp and frogfish. One area in particular is covered with sea anemones; other areas are full of brightly coloured nudibranchs and sea cucumbers. The outer ledge regularly produces sightings of game fish and larger rays resting in the sand.
Sherwood Forest – Depth: 21 – 31m
To Sherwood Forest Reef you will do a boat entry from the beach at Barra in Mozambique. It is approximately 6 Km from the shore. This reef looks like a huge rock formation planted in the middle of the sea floor with a few scattered rock placed here and there. It has some ledges that form overhangs about 3 metres in diameter. There are also some blowholes situated on the one side of the reef. On top there are holes that host a number of Green coral trees, with Goldies swimming in and out. The one part of the reef tends to flatten to the Southern side. This is one of the deeper reefs in this area but host the most amazing scenery and have to be experienced firsthand. Huge Honeycomb Moray Eels, Black cheek Moray’s and even a Manta Ray made his appearance. Two Blue spot Ray’s were spotted lingering in one of the sand patches on top of the reef. Devil Fire fish, Rockcod, Coachmen and a great variety of tropical fish can be seen here. Fire Gobies, as much as twelve together have been seen hurdled together in one spot. The coral on the other hand ranges from Plate coral, Whip coral and Leather coral to colourful Sea sponges. Soft corals include Anemones, Thristle coral, Palmate Sea fans and Fleshy soft corals in various colours. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for game fish passing through in the midwater!
Buddies – Depth: 8 – 10m
Buddies reef is a reef that lays parallel to the shore and consists of two rock banks that has a strip of sand in between separating the reef at some places.
This is a nice dive for the beginner and is excellent for a night dive because it is close to shore and relatively shallow. The tops of the reefs are broken but in between the crevices the reef is blossoming. There are lots of juvenile reef fish and some rare fish found in the small caves and overhangs. We found a White Paperfish, Brown Rockmover wrasse and various kinds of Stonefish were spotted camouflaging themselves on the reef. A Peacock Mantis Shrimp was spotted during brought daylight and at night different kinds of Crayfish, Sea Cucumbers and a rare Tropical Flounder was seen on one of the rocks. The coral are mostly broken but to make up for that there are various kinds of Anemones and Poly coral. We even found Daisy coral in a soft pink and Fleshy soft coral in some places. Interesting sea creatures can be found when taking time to look in all the small places.
Clownfish Reef – Depth: 9 – 10m
Distance to travel: 600m from Tofo Beach. Approximately a 3 minute boat ride . Bottom Time: 50 minutes. Topography: A fairly flat reef with a lot of living Rock and Plate Coral and small tropical fish. This reef is ideal for student training as it is situated in the Tofo Bay and is very gentle with no current and surge. Not recommended for advanced divers, but good for those who are diving for the first time or after a long layoff. Degree of difficulty: A very gentle dive. Visibility: Ranges from 15m to 30m. General: The perfect dive for those just starting out, very gentle dive with lots of tropical fish.
Simons Town – Depth: 14 – 18m
Situated 7km from Tofo Beach, approximately a 20-minute boat ride. Bottom Time: 40-minutes. Large chimneys of rock with an amazing amount of holes and gullies running outwards in all directions. A great dive when visibility is good, with large shoals of game fish swimming overhead. Simons Town is perfect dive site for those just starting out or wanting a long slow and relaxing dive with lots to see. Ranges from 10m to 30m It is an intriguing reef with varying topography and is home to many game fish and also often spotted on this reef is the Whale Shark.