The Inhambane coastline has all the makings of a world class surfing destination, with an ideal mix of warm water, consistent swells and sandy headlands. There are a wide variety of spots in the vicinity of Tofo, working in a range of wind and swell conditions, with the sand point at Tofo beach point being ideal for beginners and long-boarders.
However, it’s the waves around the corner at Tofinho that draw the serious surfers. A shallow reef ledge skirts the sandstone headland and at low tide advanced surfers who can handle the steep take-off have the chance of getting the ride of a lifetime. Tofinho, less than a kilometre south of Tofo, is situated on a more exposed and rocky headland and is known for its stiff currents and a shallow rock shelf make it a place for advanced riders only.
Inhambane Province, with its great variety of habitats, is home to over 500 species of birds. The area around Inhambane Bay, particularly the various mud flats and the extensive mangrove swamps, is popular with bird-watchers. There is a resident population of about 250 greater flamingos and on the outgoing tide whimbrels, turnstones and many other waders work the mud flats. The mangroves near Barra are home to egrets, purple-banded sunbirds and mangrove kingfishers. The stretches of dune forest that remain along the coast harbour the lilac-breasted roller, Burchell’s coucal and grey and olive sunbirds. Ospreys, fish eagles, olive bee-eaters, narina trojans, flamingos and numerous seabirds and waders are a common sight. A highlight for avid bird-watchers is a sighting of the crab plover, a visitor from September to April.
An array of value-for-money curios are sold at various roadside stalls, general dealers and markets in Inhambane, Tofo and surroundings. Colourful cloths called capulanas, worn by women around their waists, but with many other uses, are very popular with tourists as are grass mats, batik prints, wood carvings, baskets, traditional ceramics, sculptures and items carved from semi-precious stones. Always test ebony wood carvings by smelling for shoe polish or dye, or by rubbing with a damp finger. Don’t miss the huge array of ceramic pots for sale alongside the road just out of Inhambane on the EN. At lnhambane’s bustling central market, one can browse for curios, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread rolls and sea food. Fresh catches arrive throughout the day. Crabs and shellfish are sold alive. If you buy fish check for freshness — a fresh fish has shiny eyes, red gills and smells of the sea. Some products are from South Africa, others are produced locally. Don’t forget to buy fresh cashew nuts. Prices are reasonable and bargaining should not be necessary.
Dhow trips are an added adventure although you should always allow for the impact of tides and winds on your timetable. Parasailing, windsurfing, paddle-skiing, kayaking and quad biking is also available in and around Tofo, as are escorted excursions into the towns and rural settlements.