Diving Ibo Island

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Ibo Island, Quirimba’s Archipelago, Mozambique

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Country: Mozambique  Area: Quirimba’s Archipelago

Water Temp: 26 - 30°C (79 - 86°F)

Visibility: 50 - 30m (164 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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Ibo Island is one of the stunning islands within the remote and pristine Quirimba’s Archipelago. Great diving exists alongside a number of nature-based activities and fascinating remnants from the slave trade and colonial rule.

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Ibo Island is the only developed island within the Quirimbas Archipelago  - though it remains a peaceful and tranquil oasis in the Indian Ocean. With sand roads, a handful of vehicles and rarely more than 10 visiting guests, the island is often likened to Zanzibar before it became so popular. Day trips to neighbouring islands, swimming with wild dolphins, plenty of fresh seafood and unbelievable sunsets all make this island one of Mozambique’s most magical and unknown destinations.

The Quirimbas Islands more broadly are renowned for its pristine coral reefs and huge variety of tropical reef fish.The diving on Ibo’s local reef 'Lighthouse' offers divers a great chance to see turtles, huge napoleon wrasse, large schools of Bat fish, blue lined snapper, Harliquin Sweetlips, and much much more. People come here to dive due to its crystal clear waters and beautiful pristine reefs and huge array of reef fish.

Marine Conservation

Quirimba’s Archipelago is considered a key biodiversity site of global importance in the Eastern African Marine Ecoregion (EAME) and we are situated within the Quirimbas National Park (QNP). The QNP has three zones in the marine area, namely: total protection or ‘sanctuaries’ (where fishing is banned); special use zones (e.g. St Lazarus Bank) and community use and development zone (where people live but some fishing methods are restrict now). We work closely with WWF and QNP to report illegal fishing activities and are also working on collecting data and protecting the Humpback and bottlenose dolphins in collaboration with Dolphin Care in Ponta Do Ouro and the Natural History Museum in Maputo.

Climate

Water temperature varies very little. November – May 28 degrees and June to October 26 degrees.

Our dry but windy season is May – October and hotter and wetter season is November  to April. 

Other Year round Marine Life

Incredible pristine reefs featuring a huge array of hard and soft corals which host many species of reef fish and reef inhabitants, Napoleon wrasse, ribbon eels, garden eels, leaf scorpion fish, nudibranchs and many many more.

 
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Shore Diving

No shore diving from Ibo island but it is available from Quililea Island.

Boat Diving

We have local reefs (20 min by boat) and far reefs (1-1.5 hours by boat) Pachamba, Lighthouse, Matemo, Maria Manuel D’Silva, Rolas, Zala banks are suitable for beginners and experienced divers, with shallow sloping reefs for the beginners to nice walls and drop offs for the more advanced. Moorish idols, Banner Fish, Parrot fish, surgeon fish, puffers, clown fish and various kinds of trigger fish. Divers can see various kinds of Moray Eels and Nudibranchs, Octopus, Cuttlefish and Squid are regularly seen and Dolphins have be also been known to swim past and check out the divers. Turtles, various kinds of Grouper, Blue Spotted Sting Ray’s and Bat fish are also regular visitors. Orbicular Batfish and the Teira Batfish. The walls have some great over hangs and caves where divers can see Potato Bass as well as white banded cleaner shrimp and ghost shrimp. Coral crabs and Porceline Anemone Crabs are also in abundance and the pink leaf Scorpian fish can also been seen. Depending on tides and moon currents can vary but generally nothing too strong on the shallow reefs.

In the Matemo channel and Ibo channel there are very strong currents but great for the more advanced diver and we often see huge kingfish swimming by.

Liveaboard Diving

There are no liveaboards that exist in northern Mozambique.

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How to Get there

Flights - You can travel to Ibo Island by flight from Pemba from South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. 

Public transport - (truck or minivan) going to Quissanga / Tandanhangue from Pemba. Once in Tandanhangue, You will need to take a dhow (local boat) to reach Ibo Island.

Private Transfer - by Road and Boat

Hire a car - and Drive and then take a boat

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Where to Eat & Drink

Ibo Island is a small and quiet island. Most restaurants are attached to the lodges that exist on the island, and are very welcoming to outside visitors. Do note however that reservations are required, and a daily set menu with a few variations is often made available midday. Selection and availability revolves largely around what fishermen pull from the sea in the morning.

While Ibo Island Lodge, Miti Miwiri and Cinco Portas are the most popular restaurants, there are a few independent options as well. Africa Pot, which is connected to a small guest house, is likely one of the best restaurants on the island – but takes a bit of work to find. There is also a local restaurant called Salty and Sweet, which serves up huge meals for great value. Again, ask around locally to find it. All restaurants serve a combination of international and local fare, wish fresh seafood as the centerpiece. 

Night life is decidedly quiet on the island. Most of the nightlife revolves around the lodges, and rarely goes beyond casual drinks. There is however a local Discotech which gets popular on weekends for those who want to dance. 

 

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Other Activities

There are plenty of non-diving activities available on Ibo. Most revolve around the water in some capacity, though there are a few interesting Portuguese colonial ruins worth checking out.

Setting out on a local dhow for a day of snorkeling at a small wreck and with dolphins is probably the most popular activity. These day trips stop at a sand bank, which emerges out of the ocean at low tide. It is also possible to make this a multi-day adventure, which includes camping on an uninhabited island before returning to Ibo. 

On days when there are extremely low tides, it is possible to walk to the southern island of Quirimbas thorugh trails that weave through the mangroves. The walk takes roughly half the day and a lunch is served on the island before sailing back on a local dhow. 

Kayaks are occasionally available for rent as well, if you’d rather explore the mangroves and the island that way. This is likely one of the best ways to check out resident birdlife. 

There is one major fort on the island, where you can see remnants of the East African slave trade and colonial rule. A small museum within the fort gives added insight. Simply strolling around the island will also reveal glimpses into the island’s past. 

The island is also famed for its silversmiths, and a few informal silver shops are located throughout the island. 

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Tips

Ibo Island is very safe and people here are very friendly. Traveling to Ibo over land can very from 4 hours to 10 hours depending on the road conditions and tides. The water activities are very tidal dependant.

 There is no hyperbaric chamber on Ibo, nor is there one anywhere particularly close by. In the event of an emergency, the nearest option is found in Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania.

Ibo Island Sunset ,Credit

There is a small and basic clinic on the island. More serious medical emergencies would be dealt with in Pemba or in Dar es Salaam.

Be sure to make reservations early in the day for dinner each night. These are essential.

Diving is run exclusively out of Ibo Island Lodge. It does not always run consistently, so be sure to check well in advance (and again before arrival) if your trip revolves around diving. 

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