Set within the palm groves on a remote sandy peninsula along Mozambique’s Inhambane Coast, is the pristine Pomene National Reserve, a paradise for scuba divers and fisherman. The isolated reserve spills out over 200 square kilometres of mangrove ecosystems and marine habitats providing a refuge for water-birds, small mammals and nesting turtles.
Pomene holds great appeal for beach lovers and water sport enthusiasts seeking an island-like destination offering a variety of marine safaris. Snorkelers, kayakers and water-babies are drawn to the area because of the crystal clear turquoise waters of the estuary, dense mangroves, and sugar-white beaches flanked by palm trees. This tiny, relatively unknown reserve offers an opportunity to spot giant crabs in the estuary and whale sharks in the open waters. It’s a pristine area epitomising the untouched coastal regions of Mozambique.
Visitors need a 4WD to get to the reserve, which can be accessed from the capital city of Maputo or Beira city. The small Inhambane local airport is close-by, but the easiest way for international travellers to get to Pomene is to fly into Maputo International Airport.
Pomene National Reserve is predominantly ocean and estuaries, which provides the perfect habitat for marine life and an array of shorebirds. Small mammals such as wild boar, vervet monkeys, small antelope and baboons exist in the dune forests.
Rare dugongs, loggerhead and leatherback turtles, whale sharks, humpback whales, manta rays and dolphins are the main inhabitants of this part of the Indian Ocean. Dugongs can be spotted in the estuary. Unique species such as the striated frogfish and Japanese spider crab, relatively unknown in these waters, can also be seen in the estuary waters.
The reserve is a significant area for birding and boasts prolific flamingo and pelican populations. Birders can also spot oystercatchers, wintering birds and migratory species.
Pomene National Reserve is a year-round destination for ocean safaris, but like the rest of Mozambique, the region does have a distinct rainy season. Considering it is a beach destination, sun worshippers might want to head to the reserve outside of the rainy season.
September is a good time to spot humpback whales but the best time to visit is from November to March.
Marine safaris, fishing, and diving are the main recreational activities in the reserve. Anglers have an array of fishing options and can enjoy both rock and surf fishing, as well as deep-sea fishing charters.
Water sports enthusiasts can delight in knowing that there are abundant activities onshore such as kite surfing, jet skiing and more. Visitors looking for a less sporty holiday can easily book estuary cruises or ocean safaris to spot the marine big five. The much-talked-about Pomene Estuary is the place for snorkelers and divers to enjoy a thrilling night dive experience. It’s here where snorkelers can spot rare striated frogfish and the Japanese spider crab, normally endemic to the Philippine coastline.
Visitors can bring their watersport equipment with them or book tours with the many reputable operators in the area.
There is only a small population in Pomene National Reserve, which means supplies aren’t easily obtainable for campers. There are rudimentary campsites, but visitors would need to be completely self-sufficient. There is one luxury lodge in the area that caters for all sporting, recreation and holiday needs.