Magnificent Mozambique: Sport Diver Magazing

"I was told that the dive sites along the Mozambique coast were special; I didn't realise just how special they were going to be!...

"... On arrival at Guludo Beach Lodge I was greeted by owner Amy Carter-James, a young English woman who, with her husband Neal, designed and build the lodge with the help of the local community in 2002. The air of the lodge is to work with the local community and help people get out of poverty while still protecting the environment. With the business proving a huge success, Amy was voted Young Social Entrepreneur of the year in 2006, and in 2009 she won the Responsible Tourism Award for best poverty reduction.

"There is a whole host of activities to keep you entertained during your stay here, with bush walks, whale watching and, of course, scuba diving being the most popular.

The lodge has its very own PADI dive centre, which employs local fishermen to skipper the boats as they know where the best dive sites can be found.

"After a good night's sleep in my luxury beach hut, I was ready for the first dive of my trip. When you look out across the ocean from the beach you will see a couple of little islands, one of which is called Rolas Island. Surrounding it is a reef system of exceptional beauty and diverse marine life. It is here that we were to make our two dives of the day. The boat was loaded with the necessary equipment and then it was all aboard or the five-minute trip to the dive site known as Lions Head.

The site came to be named so because of the number of lionfish that can be found here - they are everywhere.

"My guides Amy and Simon gave the dive briefing and then it was over the side and into the warm turquoise water of the Indian Ocean. As I made my descent I found that the ocean floor was covered with small colourful crops of soft and hard coral with sandy passageways weaving endlessly between them.

It was like being in a tropical fish tank, there were fish everywhere!

"With my depth no more than 11m and visibility being an awesome 20m, I could explore the seabed at my leisure. There was a slight current on the dive but nothing to worry about. Each crop of coral that the current gently guided me to I found porcelain crabs and other weird and wonderful crustaceans sheltering just out of reach of the camera lens.

"Because this particular section of reef is so large we decided to stay on it and dive a little further on for the second of our dives. As we made our decent into the warm clear water my attention was again drawn to the areas of sea grass. Only this time I was on the lookout for the areas much-larger residents - dugongs. Don't believe the BBC Oceans series - it is no secret that Mozambique has the largest population of dugongs in the world, and most of them are here in the north of the country, but while the evidence of these graceful creatures was everywhere, I didn't get to see one. However, the dive was still every bit as good as the last - there was marine life in every direction. From small pipefish to anemones with their partner clownfish and spiny lobsters hiding just out of arm's reach virtually all along the reef.

Add to that the shoals of fish swimming around us and you have all you need for an excellent dive.

"All too soon the dive came to an end and with the kit safely back onboard the boat, I was taken to Ibo Island for an overnight stay at the Ibo Island Lodge. This little boutique hotel overlooks the Indian Ocean and one of the many picturesque mangrove swamps. There are plans to add a dive centre, but at present all diving is arranged via Guludo Beach Lodge"

Article and pictures by PATRICK SHIER