Where is Ponta do Ouro?
Ponta do Ouro, or the "tip of gold", is located right at the southern tip of Mozambique, bordering the country of South Africa. Ponta is a very popular dive spot with many offshore reefs and drop-offs to explore. It is also an increasingly popular tourist destination for a beach holiday escape.
Sunrise from the 'tip of gold'
How to get to Ponta do Oura?
Driving from South Africa to Ponta
Getting to Ponta da Oura is an adventure on its own. If you are coming from South Africa, do not take your airport rental car or two-wheel drive. Huge mistake. You will regret it. You need to be driving a 4x4 vehicle and prepared to endure long stretches of beach sand roads from the moment you cross the South African border post. Even in a 4x4 vehicle, you will feel like an adventurer on a crazy expedition in the African desert. Ensure to allow yourself an extra hour or two for the border crossing.
The drive to get to Ponta do Oura
NOTE: If you are crossing the border with children under the age of 18, both parents MUST be present, or if only one is present, that parent MUST have a lawyer stamped document stating that the other parent (who is not present) is aware that their child is crossing the border out of South Africa. Strict laws are in place to avoid child trafficking. You will not be permitted to enter Mozambique without meeting the appropriate requirements.
Driving from Maputo to Ponta
The majority of Ponta tourists are holiday seekers from South Africa. That being said, if you are traveling from within Mozam, it is just over 150 km of driving south of Maputo to get to Ponta do Ouro. If you are taking this route you do not need to allow extra time for a border crossing because you will already be in the country.
What to do in Ponta do Ouro?
Beach day in Ponta
Mozambique is even referred to as the 'pearl of the Indian Ocean', named for its beautiful golden beaches and islands, all of which allow you awesome sunrise views. If you are looking for an undisturbed, relaxing beach day, Ponta do Ouro is not the place for you. Ponta is the most popular beach in southern Mozam, both for tourists and for the locals trying to make money off the tourists.
My advice is that if you are looking for somewhere quieter, head further north to Ponta Malongane. Both are stunning beaches on the Indian Ocean. Both beaches have swimming and surfing waves. The waves are wilder at Ponta Malongane, where-as Ponta do Ouro is much more of a family friendly beach.
Sunrise from Ponta Malongane
Swimming with dolphins
Ponta do Ouro is a very popular spot for pods of dolphins to swim by or occasionally stop in. While in Ponta, you can have an amazing up close experience swimming with wild dolphins on a tour. The tour company is called Dolphin Encountours Research Centre (#dolphinencountours #dolphinsofponta). They are a very eco-friendly service and respect the wild animals.
Swimming with the wild pod
When you go on tour with them, you are given goggles and flippers (aka swimming fins) and are loaded onto a boat. Once you launch the boat as a team, everyone piles on and you begin searching the coastline for the pod of dolphins. As soon as you see them, everyone rolls, hops, jumps and flops out of the boat as fast as they can before the dolphins arrive, swimming and playing around you.
Tour Guide interacting with a curious dolphin
The most amazing part was that you can hear them communicating under the water as they swim around you. The guide is very knowledgeable about the animals, and she knows how to engage the curious individuals to swim along and play with her.
Shopping in Ponta
Ponta do Oura is a busy third-world-style-tourist-hub. This means that while the holiday seekers are soaking in some sun on the beach, the local craftsmen are running around trying to sell you various creations. You will often have a group of kids run up to you holding poles laced with bracelets for you to purchase.
When you are off the main beach walking the sand roads, you can stop at the craft stores to buy their crafts too. Mozambique is famous for the classic "travelers pants". You know the ones, bright colored and elephant printed. Not only do they sell these pants, but they copy the design onto other clothing items too. Tee shirts, shorts, jumpsuits, dresses and pants galore! Not only that, but the locals are very talented carvers, carving everything from household decorations to jewelry.
Mozambique shopping stalls
Bar hopping in Ponta
Beachfront bar hopping is a great way to unwind after a day of splashing around at the beach. Even better if you get to bar hop barefoot while driving a 4x4 quad bike! Biker Boyz rents out quad bikes for tourists to drive the sand roads from bar to bar.
"Bavroom's" at one of the beach bars
One of the best bars to visit while in Ponta is Jacks Barefoot Bar. While at Jacks, you can hit golf balls towards a target in the distance. If you're one of the lucky ones to hit the target, you get a free drink!
Now, when we talk about typical Mozambique drinks, they are not your normal one or two shot high ball ratio Mozam drinks are made in pint-sized glasses and are poured with equal parts Mozambique rum and a raspberry flavored sprite. These drinks are known as an R&R, or a rum and raspberry.
The Mozam rum is famous to the South African holiday goers who often purchase several bottles to take home with them. The rum is called Tipo Tinto and is a whopping 40% alcohol. Good luck trying to hit golf balls after that!
The liquor store and hot sauce supplier
At night time some of the bars will have fireplaces to keep the mosquitoes and other bugs away. Something that concerns a lot of people is if Ponta do Ouro is a malaria area? The answer is that Ponta is not a high-risk Malaria zone, but some people do choose to take precautions.
So why Ponta do Ouro?
Did I forget to mention that there are dozens of friendly dogs running up and down the beach every day? That alone is a selling point for me.
If you are looking for a safe place to have a beach holiday, Ponta is the ideal location for all ages to enjoy the beautiful beach days and the relaxed nightlife. With activities to keep you entertained all day and shopping to satisfy the tourist within, it is a wonderful destination for a holiday escape. After all, it is Mozambique's tip of gold!
Dogs playing in the waves at Ponta Malongane