Travel to and around the islands

How to get to the Quirimbas islands

Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province, is the main entry point from the mainland to the Quirimbas islands. From Pemba you can make your way to Ibo, the administrative centre and the best connected of the islands, by road and sea, or by plane. Alternatively, you can travel from the mainland to Quirimba island, by car and boat only.

Flights arrive in Pemba on a daily basis from a number of African hubs including Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) or Mozambique’s capital, Maputo.

From Pemba to Ibo

By road:

Private transfer
Private transfers involve a 4×4 journey followed by a boat. The drive takes you to Tandahangue, from where you can take a boat to Ibo, which should be arranged in advance via your hosts or a local travel company, as it can only depart at high tide.  The boat journey takes about an hour, and is not possible at low tide.
In the dry season, the drive to Tandanhanghue takes 2h30/3h00 via tarmac and dirt roads. In the rainy season, it takes about 4h00/5h00, with a longer route and more dirt road to contend with.

Public transport
A chappa (truck/minibus) leaves Pemba airport daily at around 0400/0500 for Tandahangue, where you can get the a daily ‘chappa naval’ (informal local passenger boat)  to Ibo which departs only at high tide. In theory it coordinates with the arrival of the bus, but this isn’t a guarantee. You may have to wait a few hours if the tide is out, and there are no facilities in Tandahangue, so make sure you have water/snacks with you. For the return from Ibo to Tandahangue, the chappa bus is usually waiting to meet the chappa boat.
The total journey takes between 4 and 8 hours.
Prices: Chappa bus through Bilibiza (wet season) 400-Mts pp // Chappa bus through Metuge (dry season) 300-Mts pp+ Chappa boat 70-Mts per person

IMPORTANT! There are no facilities in Tandahanghue – not even a place to buy water, so ensure you have supplies with you for the journey as if you miss the right tide, it will be a long wait…

By plane:

The easiest and fastest way to get from Pemba to Ibo is by plane.
CR Aviation flies regularly from Pemba and can arrange to meet your international flight.
Cost: Pemba – Ibo approx. 223 USD pp, Ibo – Pemba approx. 218 USD pp. If the flight only has one passenger, the cost is doubled.

CR Aviation has offices in Maputo and Pemba, and can be contacted by phone/email:
(+258) 844909734

From Pemba to Quirimba

If you’re heading to Quirimba island from the mainland, you can take a private transfer or chappa from Pemba to Quissanga, an alternative departure point, where a chappa naval (informal boat for locals) goes to Quirimba island.

Travelling around the Quirimbas islands

It’s important to understand that everything in the Quirimbas islands depends on the tides. Some journeys can only be made at  high tide, so the time that boats can depart and arrive, and the time excursions can take place, changes often. Make sure you check tide times locally and in advance of your travel. You can read more about tides here.

Between Ibo and Quirimba

By foot
At low tide, accompanied by a guide. The walk takes around 2.5 hours through wet mangroves and sand. Depending on the tides, you may not be able to return to the island you depart from on the same day.

By chappa naval (informal local passenger boat)
Departing both islands at high tide. This is a very informal service for the locals. It takes any number of passengers and is unlikely to have life jackets or other safety features. Be aware that the service doesn’t always run. Check on the ground for up to date departure times and locations. This costs 50 MTN per person.

By private boat
You can make arrangements via a local guide or accommodation for a boat to take you between islands. Again, this is only feasible at high tide, and depending on the tide times, you may not be able to return to the island you depart from on the same day.

By kayak
Kayaks can be hired on Ibo. The journey isn’t possible at low tide. A guide is required to avoid getting lost in the mangroves.

Between Ibo and Matemo and Between Quirimba and Matemo you can travel by private boat or excursion only. It is also possible to travel to smaller, un-inhabited islands and sandbanks of the archipelago as part of an organised tour. See the tours and activities page for more information.