Tofino Paradise

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Africa » Mozambique » Southern » Tofo
May 11th 2011
Published: May 13th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Week 8-10 Tofo/Tofino Beach

Day 49, April 13th, we woke up at 4:30am to catch our 5:30 bus from Maputo to Tofo Beach. The backpacker had a cheap bus $600MT/per person ($20US) door to door to there beach front property Fatima’s Nest, a mere 250 miles up the coast. Bargain transportation comes with strings attached. The 30-seater bus arrived at Fatima’s seemingly half way full with luggage and people. The 9 of us going were wondering how they would fit all of our luggage and us inside the bus, as there was no under or above storage. Within a half hour we were all loaded and situated in the elementary school like metal seats with straight backs and little cushioning. Best-case scenario we would be there in six hours. As we pulled out we were all feeling content we had a little space to set our carry-on and stretch out. Then at 6:15am we arrived at the Maputo bus terminal; a muddy parking lot filled with loads of people waiting for buses and vendors hawking everything you can imagine. Women walked by balancing huge baskets of fresh baked bread on their heads. Kids were selling fresh roasted cashew nuts and fruit. Young men sold cell phone minute cards, small Chinese electronics, and toiletries. As twenty minutes passed and the minimal allure started to ware off we wondered how long we might be there. Then they started loading boxes and luggage and people in the open seats. We all started consolidating our space. Then came more people and more boxes of liquor, bags of food, luggage. They didn’t stop until they filled any open spaces with bags, supplies and people in the fold down aisle seats. We had our backpacks at our feet and were packed in quite tight. As 7:30 came along we were convinced we would soon be on our way. They packed on a few more people and babies for a total of 33 passengers before and we departed at 7:45am. On our way to Tofo with just one planned stop halfway. At 10:30am we made the stop when they decided to our surfboards to the back to make more much needed space. After the rest stop we began making more unplanned frequent stops for police check points, dropping off people, and waiting while the driver stopped to chat with people he knew along the way. We reached Inhambane, the nearest large town to Tofo, just 15 miles from our destination at 2:30pm. Then unexpectedly we all had to get off the bus for about 45 minutes while the “bus guys” made deliveries of all the liquor, vegetables and other items that had been riding under our feet and in the isles. It was hot and we were all really to just get there since we left our hotel 9 hours prior. We jumped back on the bus and had a few more random stops (including one lady jumping on mid town and off up town like a local bus). Finally after a 10-hour journey we arrived at Tofo Beach. They dropped us off at Fatima’s Nest, where we were drawn in by the stunning view of the beautiful beach. Exhausted, we ordered some ice-cold caparinas and settled into a few chairs under a cabana. We sat there watching the ocean munching fresh roasted cashews and laughing about our journey. On our bus ride we made friends with a sweet couple from Cape Town, Nathan & Jessica. They went and sought out some fresh seafood from the market and Nathan, who is a former sushi chef, made us a wonderful dinner.

Day 50, April 14th, we woke up in paradise (though be it in an overpriced shack). So first priority was to find a new residence. We headed up the hill to the quieter Tofino Beach, (also home to the local surf spot) to start our search. We looked at many different places to get a feel for the area and do some research before deciding on Tofo Beach Cottages. We had our choice of houses for $675MT/per person ($22US) no matter the size of the house. We selected a three bedroom with a spacious great room and deck overlooking the surf break. It was the perfect place for us to chill out for a while after weeks of moving around. We surfed and sunned on the beach before buying some beautiful tiger prawns at the market to cook for dinner. It was really relaxing.

Day 51-66, April 15th-May 2nd, Our days in Tofino have been filled with surfing, exploring, practicing yoga, reading, snorkeling, and enjoying stunning beaches. This special area is home to a large whale sharks and giant manta ray population, part of the reason it is a popular diving area. One of the highlights of the trip was a close encounter with a passing whale shark one day while we were surfing. I could see the beautiful spotted skin and massive fin moving through the water as I paddled towards it. I only got to see it for a moment before it swam away. A few days later John and I snorkeled out from Tofino Point quite far into the open ocean. It is the best area to see whale sharks but it is quite scary being out in the deep ocean all alone. The current was very strong as was the swell so we ended up swimming South and exiting at backdoor beach. The waves at backdoor were quite big as we came it (kind of scary when you are snorkeling but good for surfing). So as we were walking back to get our boards we noticed all the snorkeling safari boats stopping to swim with a whale shark where we had just snorkeled (just missed it). We had lots of great days of surfing. Tofino was good at low tide in the morning and Tofo was good at high tide in the afternoon so we spent the first days on that rotation catching lots of fun waves. There was a yoga retreat in town from South Africa and I was able to join them in many of their sessions, which was so rewarding. The studio at Turtle Cove was beautiful and the teacher and students were great. They had two classes a day so I had a lot of time to practice and get to know the group. I plan to keep in touch with a few of them for my upcoming projects. During our time we met many friendly locals and other travelers, mostly South African and Portuguese. We made some connections for our upcoming trip to Portugal. The beach town was very un-crowded when we arrived. Eight days in the South African Easter holiday crowd started showing up via massive 4 wheel-drive vehicle. The tranquility turned to party scene for that week which was a fun change although we preferred the more mellow days (also the seafood was cheaper). The food is one of the best parts about Mozambique. Fisherman walked by the house daily with their fresh catch; prawns, calamari, langosta (lobster), marlin… all was about $150MT/Kg ($5US). We bought beautiful produce at the market especially juicy red tomatoes and giant softball sized avocados. The kids on the beach sold us fresh roasted cashews that became our favorite snack. We have been cooking most of our meals and eating so well. We really enjoy it here. It is touristy enough to have some infrastructure and activities but still un-crowded beaches and a relaxed vibe (except for Easter week). After spending most of our time surfing and doing yoga we finally made time for a snorkeling safari with the dive shop on what we planned to be our last day. It was extremely windy and rainy and the seas were high that day. Most of the dive boats didn’t go out but there was a lull about 11am so they decided to take our group. The two-hour boat ride was becoming torturous as we drove into the storm. We had not seen anything so we were discouraged finally we spotted a large pod of dolphins. John and I dove in and caught up in time to witness their under water acrobatics and hear their high-pitched squeaking. They were so beautiful. Unfortunately we did not see any whale sharks or mantas. Cold and wet we returned to the dive shop where the shop girl told us about Bin Laden being shot. We went to dinner down the road at Tofo Tofo (it was our best meal out). They were showing coverage of the Bin Laden news and we discussed with the ex-pats we met surfing and some of the locals.

Day 67, Tuesday, May 3rd, became our official last day in Tofino. We decided to stay one more day since the weather was gorgeous that morning in contrast to the prior day (and we wanted to leave after a nice day). We surfed in the morning and decided to take one more chance on the boat to swim with a whale shark. The waters were much calmer and it was a beautiful sunny day. The dive shop gave us half price so we jumped in the boat for another ride. The previous day the boat was full with 14 people but today there were only two other guys (Lief & Eric, German engineering students interning in Africa) who were good boat mates. We set out and cruised for a while not seeing much until we got past Tofino point. The dive boat has a tall seat anchored in the back for a spotter to sight. He yelled out whale shark and the boat zoomed over. We could see a huge dark mass swimming under the water. Excitedly we threw on our gear and jumped in. We started swimming towards the area and I popped up my head to get my baring. The guys on the boat yelled and motioned to the water in front of me. I looked around but did not see anything from above. I dipped my head below and was startled to see the massive whale shark swimming right under me. It was amazing! It swims relatively slowly so we were able to keep up with it for about 20 minutes before it went into the deep. I had always wanted to swim with a whale shark so it was incredibly special for me. We jumped on the boat all very thrilled with the experience. That night we had tiger prawns as our last meal in the beach house in Tofino.

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