Lying on Mozambique’s tropical east coast, Inhambane (pronounced In-yam-baan) is one of the sleepier destinations on your MSC Cruises’ South Africa cruise holiday.
Those for whom ‘holiday’ means ‘relaxation’ will be happy sitting, drink in hand, at the harbour as they watch the local sailing boats, or dhows, glide gracefully into the port, which is home to one of East Africa’s largest dhow fleets.
Imhambane is also one of the best diving locations in the world, with regular sightings of giant whale sharks, turtles and manta rays. Bazaruto National Park, the largest sea park in Africa, is to the north, Manta Reef and Gallaria nearer by, while Tofu Beach to the east provides the closest diving, and is also known as the whale shark Mecca of the world.
One of the oldest coastal settlements in Mozambique, dhows have traded here since the eleventh century. The first European to visit was Vasco de Gama in the late fifteenth century, who took an instant liking to it, and named it Terra de Boa Gente, which means ‘land of the good people’. You’ll see why as you peruse the stalls in the local market, or mercado, munching away on cashew as you take in the colourful array of spices, vegetables and sea food.
Over the years it grew to become a major trading centre, but then declined in the twentieth century to become today’s dreamy town, where for sightseeing you can take in the museum, the mosque, or the cathedral in the old town, where a rusty ladder leads up to the spire.