African Adventures: Inhaca Island, Mozambique

The original plan for our 2nd day exploring Mozambique had been to enjoy an excursion across to the lighthouse on neighbouring Inhaca Island.

Unfortunately, this excursion was cancelled the night before and I went into a bit of a flap, worrying that I now wouldn’t have the opportunity to see the “real” Mozambique and capture it on camera for a beautiful blog post…

Fortunately there was another option! And I still managed to make it across to explore Inhaca Island.

 

inhaca island

fishing boat mozambique

After walking around the circumference of Portuguese Island in the morning, we headed over to the excursion desk on the island to find out how we could get across to Inhaca Island. We discovered that it was surprisingly easy to book a boat shuttle for US$15 ea (remember all prices on board the MSC Sinfonia and at the island are in US dollars!)

Just 10 minutes later we joined a group of other MSC passengers, donned our lifejackets and set off on an exhilarating trip across the water on a local “taxi”…

travelling to inhaca island
Along the way we passed some of the local fishermen at their day’s work aboard a dhow fishing boat.

I loved getting a small glimpse of local life… although I did wonder what they thought about us in our bright orange lifejackets while they worked in little more than a t-shirt and a pair of shorts!

mozambique dhow

mozambique fishing boat

Inhaca Island

The boat trip from Portuguese Island to Inhaca Island was quick (about 10 minutes) and we arrived on the shores of Inhaca at low tide, jumping ashore with ease – the only tricky bit was being careful not to step on a starfish!

inhaca island mozambique

inhaca mozambique

starfish mozambique

mozambique beach

Once we were on the beach at Inhaca Island we were greeted by João (Portuguese for John), a local resident, who offered to be our guide of his home village for a small fee.

Getting an insight into local village life was something I was really keen to do so we agreed on an amount and set off with him to enjoy the benefits of being with a local who knew his way around (and every person we passed!)

inhaca-island-tour

msc sinfonia inhaca island excursion

inhaca island local people

inhaca island village

We arrived just after lunch time, at the hottest part of the day, and the heat was intense on the short walk from the beach to the village. We found ourselves picking up the pace considerably when in the sun and taking a few moments of respite in each shady spot.

This is a well trodden path for the MSC tourists to Inhaca Island and the locals traders have set up “shop” selling sarongs, hats, drinks and assorted shells and corals (not advisable to purchase in this marine reserve!) along the route.

There were also a couple of important military buildings I was advised NOT to photography (the benefit of a local guide by my side!)

inhaca island village tour

inhaca island shop

Inhaca village consists of one main “road” of white sand, lined by rather derelict buildings and surrounded by palm trees! A village on a beach!

inhaca island life

inhaca

inhaca island mozambique

inhaca main street

Did I mention that the heat was intense? I must have, because that was the main sensation walking around Inhaca Island!

The sand was so hot that it scorched our feet through our slip slops… to my surprise most of the locals didn’t seem to be bothered by this at all… casually walking around on the blazing sand with bare foot!
inhaca-island-life

mozambican girls

The local people were full of beautiful, wide smiles and happy to have a quick chat with us foreigners. Tourists descend on their island every few days (the MSC Sinfonia docks near Inhaca twice a week) and visitors enjoy various planned excursions to the island, as well as the option to get across on their own steam (like we did) for a wander around the village. MSC also have a relationship with the biggest restaurant on the island and you can opt to enjoy a seafood lunch and cold beer in the heart of the town should you be keen to extend your visit a little longer.

inhaca island pub

inhaca island life

inhaca locals

inhaca-island-people

During our visit, during the heat of the day on a Wednesday afternoon, the atmosphere in this Mozambican village was relaxed and friendly.

Most of the locals were sat round under any spot of shade the could find – the indigenous “umbrella” trees coming in particularly useful – enjoying a laugh or a game with their friends.

inhaca-island-school

inhaca village

inhaca village tour

Our meanderings around Inhaca Island with Joao saw us walking through the back roads of the village, past local huts and vegetable gardens of cassava. We popped into a few of the shops – a general store and a fashion outlet – and poked our heads inside the local bar!

inhaca-island

mozambique village

inhaca village view

tour of inhaca island

inhaca island dwelling

inhaca island in mozambique

mozambican child

We chatted to a few of the kids enjoying fun with their friends and meandered our back to the village “square” and the market…

Every day, locals sell their wares – fish, seafood, firewood, plastic wares, vegetables, clothing etc. Everything and anything seemed to be on sale here. Unfortunately, when we arrived, quite a few stalls were empty and had closed for the day but there were a few still trading and we managed to catch a glimpse of this integral part of village life

mozambican village on inhaca island

inhaca island market

inhaca market

mozambican market

market at inhaca island

Set apart from the local market was the tourist market, another spot selling sarongs and alcohol!

Unfortunately we hadn’t planned on purchasing anything and didn’t have any currency on us so I would recommend that if you’d like to support the locals and are keen to buy something to remember your visit by, then take along some cash. The accept US dollars or the local currency.

market inhaca island

street merchant inhaca island

snack bar inhaca

methodist church inhaca

cafe inhaca island

inhaca-life After a brief break on the covered verandah of a local restaurant… and an icy cold beer… it was time to head back to catch a shuttle across to Portuguese Island and then the MSC Sinfonia. The last shuttle to the MSC leaves the beach at 4, and we didn’t want to miss that, so our visit to Inhaca Island was sadly a bit short.

inhaca island beach

getting to inhaca island

inhaca island beach

inhaca beach

inhaca island tour guide

dhow boat inhaca island

Inhaca Island feels very much like Mozambique and it hasn’t been turned into a tourist resort at all. MSC have clearly helped to improve the lives of the locals here, thanks to the extra jobs servicing the tourists as well as supplying fish to the ship.

A visit to Inhaca Island is a very different experience to a visit to Portuguese Island (Which itself has 2 sides – as a party beach and a tranquil escape!) and I really recommend a visit to Inhaca should you find yourself in this part of the world. Spending some time in Inhaca as part of your cruise experience will be well worth it.

Based on our experience I would suggest that if you’re interested in exploring the culture of Mozambique on your visit, plan to head across to Inhaca Island on the first day you dock. This way you’ll avoid the crowds who only get as far as Portuguese Island on the first day. Then spend your second day taking a slow walk around the circumference of Portuguese Island (as per my previous post) It really was a beautiful way to spend a day!

Unfortunately an afternoon in Inhaca Island was not very much time to soak in it’s unique atmosphere, but it did give me a taste of Mozambique… and for that I was very grateful.

I’m now more keen than ever to explore this beautiful country and discover it’s other hidden gems.

 

 

Read more about my trip to Mozambique here:

All Aboard: My first cruise aboard the MSC Sinfonia

Our first day on Portuguese Island, Mozambique

The secrets of Portuguese Island

 

 

If you enjoyed this post about our visit to Inhaca Island please consider pinning it to Pinterest using the graphic below so you can find it again for when you plan your visit to Inhaca Island in Mozambique or so that others can find it and plan their own trip. Thanks so much!

Inhaca Island Mozambique

 

Disclosure: 1

Images: Kathryn Rossiter

 

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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for almost 7 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

8 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing this helpful insight!!

    We will be embarking on our 2nd cruise aboard the MSC shortly, where we will enjoy 1 day at the Portuguese Islands and 1 day at Pomene.

    I must confess, I was a bit disappointed to learn that the MSC excursion from the Portuguese Islands to Inhaca is already fully booked (seeing as how the trip is only scheduled for January 2019). However, I am extremely relieved to hear that we may be able to charter a boat privately. Will it be possible for you to share any information with regard to how you were able to do this?

    Your insider perspective is highly appreciated. Wonderful!!!! Thank you

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