If you are a keen (especially beginner) snorkeler, then you will LOVE snorkeling in Xai Xai, Mozambique. The bustling town of Xai Xai is about a three-hour drive north of Maputo on excellent tar roads. In fact you could drive to Xai Xai in a single day from South Africa. Why do we love snorkeling in Xai Xai, two reasons:
- The reef is HUGE, you could go snorkeling in Xai Xai from low tide right through until high tide and not get bored.
- The reef is offshore, allowing for special creatures to be seen (as opposed to shallower inshore rocky reefs) BUT it is still close enough and protected enough to feel like you’re taking a gentle swim across a swimming pool.
Once you arrive in Xai Xai, the best area for snorkeling is directly in front of the main campsite, directly opposite the old broken hotel and Haley’s Comet Restaurant.
The lagoon is protected by a very big rocky reef that runs parallel to the shoreline for almost a kilometer. At low tide, even a neap low tide, the reef gets exposed and turns the area into a huge swimming pool, it’s quite a swim across, a couple of hundred meters and deep, but the water is crystal clear and calm. Be sure to include some good fins in your snorkel gear to help you cross the deep channel, and also, don't forget that rash vest in your snorkel gear bag, the Mozambique sun can get extremely hot and burn your back in minutes flat.
Once across, the water gets shallow fast and various little rocky outcrops are home to a huge variety of fish, including no less than 5 species of Butterflyfish, huge selection of Wrasse, Lionfish, Moray Eels, Starfish and even turtles are seen quite regularly.
As you explore along the rocky reef, work your way carefully along the side, there are smaller pools inside the rocky area that can be very rich in sea life and even better than the open water, one assumes these pools offer good protection.
While snorkeling across the open sandy stretches between the reef at Xai Xai, take it slow, the sand, at first glace looks void of life, but if you take it slow you will have a good change of coming across small Rays, Flounder (Sole) and predatory fish such as Kingfish.
Snorkeling at Xai Xai is so protected, so easy, that it must rate as one of our favourite spots to go snorkeling in Mozambique, especially for beginners. We highly recommend it, great snorkeling for children, lots to see and one of the easiest yet exciting snorkeling spots you will find in Mozambique.
Xai Xai has a great variety of campsites, chalets, luxury accommodation as well as all the food and facilities you could want. Whilst Xai Xai is not the most pristine area in Mozambique and can be very busy during South African Holiday season, it is a great spot to go for a snorkel!