Diving Zavora, South Mozambique
An exclusive first class diving spot in Mozambique and a paradise for pelagic lovers!!
Fantastic dives for all divers. Possibility of scientific, exploratory dives and wrecks diving.
Two very long reef systems are stretched over several kilometers in front of the Mozambique Zavora coastline with plenty of reefs still awaiting to be discovered. Around 16 dive sites are currently listed.
The Inshore reef lies just 1 km off shore various Manta cleaning stations are found between 6 and 18m – the curious Mantas are getting playfully close or flying elegantly over your head – pure fascination.
The Offshore reef is around 10km from the coast and offer many challenging dive sites between 25 and 40m (reserved to experimented divers). Strong currents might require a negative entry.
Divers can enjoy the mega fauna wish boasts year around sightings of both species of Manta Rays, as well as seasonal visits from Humpback whales (July to October, best months for encounters being August and September) and the largest known fish, the whale shark.
In addition these waters are frequented by several other sharks’ species such as Hammerheads, Zambezi, white tip, leopard, guitar, tiger, hammerhead, Bull Sharks and occasionally even great whites.
With five species of Turtle, small eyed ray, sting ray, beautiful reef fish and over 100 stunning species of nudibranches, these reefs truly accommodate all Divers.
Come and dive the well kept secrets of Zavora Bay.
• Deep reef south – advanced divers– 32m – large shoals of king fish, tuna, and barracuda. Turtles. Rays and sharks. Potatoes bass.
• South wall – advanced divers – 32 meters – Amazing reef full of life and blue spotted rays. Schools of yellow fin jack trevallys, barracudas
• Red sands and white sand – all divers – 12 to 18 meters with pinnacles coming up to 6 meters – Manta ray cleaning stations in 12 to 14 meters. Macro life and underwater topography. Turtles. Sharks
• Vasco – 14 meters – all divers – amazing formations, zebra shark, turtles, white tip shark, manta rays, sting rays
• Sponge city - 15 meters - all divers - A favorite nudibranch dive site offers lots of food for these colourful animals Unfortunately strong currents often causes bad visibility therefore the spot is not often dived.
• Klipfontein wreck – experimented divers - A 10.500 ton Dutch 150m long cargo/passengers boat which sank and broke in half in 1953, lies 54 meters deep and is full of life. The Wreck of The Klipfontein is a big draw for the technically minded diver. Brindle Bass, Mantas and large schools of fish are often seen here and there is plenty of opportunity for penetration. At 6 km from our launch, she is on the doorstep, and as no one else dives her, exclusive.
Please note that diving the Klipfontein requires either previous certification in decompression diving, or is as part of an IANTD Advanced Nitrox, or higher level course, conducted here in Zavora.
• Arcadia – 22 to 32m – 15 min boat – swims through. Lobsters. Murrays. Huge scorpion fishes. Barracudas. Schools of groupers. Colorful corals. Amazing formations.
The both species of manta rays (Manta birostris and Manta alfredi) are present all year round in varying numbers with periods of huge abundance. November to January seems to be the time Mantas engage in mating behavior, with the opportunity to see many males chasing a female in a long ‘train’ across the reef.
Scientific research is being carried out by The Zavora Marine Lab on Mantas, (as well as many other things,) but so far there is insufficient data to prove trends in abundance, with large numbers being recorded at various times of the year.
June to September is Humpback season and to see these 16+ meter long animals from the boat or even on SCUBA is a real thrill. Every year we get multiple in water encounters with the Whales and their song can be heard continuously on most dives. They are here to calve and breed so we also regularly see young calves as well as jostling bulls.
Sharks and Rays
There's unfortunately seen a drop off in numbers of large Shark sightings, probably due to fishing pressure, but we there are chances of encounters with Zambezi, Spinner and Hammerhead Sharks on the off shore reefs. Bow Mouth Guitar, Leopard, Nurse and White Tip Reef Sharks as well as Jenkins, Fan Tail, Shovel Nosed and Eagle Rays, to name but a few. Whale sharks are also present and seen from time to time, more frequently in the summer months.
Five of the seven species of sea turtles can be seen in Mozambique waters. Encounters with loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles are frequent. Massive leather backs turtles have been spotted in Zavora quite a few times, particularly in November. From September to March is the nesting season and you might be lucky to see a turtle coming up from the water during a night walk.
The macro life here is stunning, with over 80 species of Nudibranchs recorded, 4 of them as yet undescribed, it is definitely ‘Nudi haven’. On the top Nudibranch inshore reef, scientific data shows an abundance of 1.2 Nudibranchs per 2 square meters. That equates to a lot of sightings in a single dive.
Manti shrimps, octopus, pipe fish and many other little creatures are often seen on the reef tops or hiding in a hole.
The waters of southern Mozambique have visibility ranging from 5-30 meters, with an average of 12-15 meters. Offshore reefs usually have better visibility than inshore reefs as wave action is not such a factor. Poor visibility can be the result of bad weather and big waves stirring up the bottom or can be caused by upwelling of cold nutrient rich water from the Mozambique Channel. This upwelling water usually causes a chain of events, starting with a bloom in Phytoplankton, tiny plants trapping the sun’s energy by photosynthesis. This tends to turn the water greener. This plant life then supports a bloom in Zoo plankton, small animals and jelly fish, this then turns the water a slightly milky blue color as they grow and eat the Phytoplankton. Then the animals that divers want to see, the Mantas and Whale sharks, get involved to complete the cycle by eating the Zoo plankton. So, without some days of poorer visibility, Mozambique would not have the charismatic mega fauna that makes it such a fantastic place to dive.
Best time of year to come
It is difficult to recommend a ‘best time’ here in Zavora as all times of year have positive attributes. From 15th December to the 15th January and Easter are the busiest seasons due to South African school holidays. All other months are quieter. November to March have warmer water and usually better visibility with mating manta rays events. The temperature on land can get up to 40 degrees C in January and February, with December to March being Cyclone season, so if we are unlucky we can miss some days diving due to storms, however, this is seldom the case.
June to September is colder but is also Humpback Whale season and we see these magnificent animals daily from the boat.
January and February 22 to 28 degrees
March to June 20 to 26 degrees
July and August 18 to 24 degrees
September and October 16 to 22 degrees
November and December 18 to 25 degrees
The Algulas current runs through the Mozambique Channel from North to South and as such we usually have a mild current on our offshore reefs, predominantly at the surface, and can have anything from zero to strong current. We are lucky enough to have over 7 km of inshore reef lying parallel to the shore, so on the days that the current is strong, drift diving is the order of the day.