A few of us had decided to do a trip up to Santa Maria for the December / Jan holidays. Things had changed drastically since the last time I visited this area! Not in terms of the area but in terms of our personal lives. Last time I was in this area I was a student and baked beans and pap was all we needed for food, a mozzie net would do the trick for the sleeping arrangements.
Now we had wives and children to deal with so the baked beans and pap was not going to go down too well. And sleeping in the sand under mozzie net was a no go!
Enter Ponta Torres or Nhonguane Lodge. Luxury accommodation with air con and your own private pool on the deck. As soon as we found this place we knew the girls would be happy and we could dive to our hearts content. This place has awesome accommodation and it costs a lot more than the normal camping fees at Milli Bangalala but it is good value. For R300 a head a night you have everything you need. (Fridges, deep freezers, microwaves, aircons and an ice machine for a never ending supply of ice).
Logistically it is a bit of a mission to get a boat here. We had borrowed a mates boat (Nico you are a legend). This boat was perfect for this sort of trip. It was a 17 Foot Cat with 2 50hp Suzuki 4 Strokes. Those 4 strokes are unreal, the distance you get out of 25 litres of fuel is awesome. We decided to launch the boat at Malongane and leave the car and trailer there while the rest of the crew drove through the elephant park. It is an awesome trip the rest of the crew drove through the elephant park. It is an awesome trip to do and driving along that coastline is one of those things you have to tick to do and driving along that coastline is one of those things you have to tick off. The downside is that you are very weather dependent and sods law off. The downside is that you are very weather dependent and sods law both times we did this trip it was into a strong oncoming sea. Your other both times we did this trip it was into a strong oncoming sea. Your other option is to go to Maputo option is to go to Maputo and launch there. Smaller boats will be able to get there by road it will just be a long slow drive. True to form when you borrow someone else’s stuff inevitably something had to go wrong.
We broke a spring on the trailer and once we off loaded the boat the entire trailer fell apart as the springs are what holds it together. We panicked when we saw this, but on closer inspection realised we just needed to replace the springs. Fortunately the good people at Malongane (Thanks Sonja) agreed to fix the springs for us if we could get them to them. Nico was coming up a few days later and so he dropped off a fresh set with them. A real luck for us as that could have cut our trip short by a few days. Anyway back to the diving. We had some really cool dives and mainly dived Santa Maria home reef and managed 2 trips up to Baixia De Nais. Obviously we knew there was a chance of a Doggie up there so were pretty pumped but unfortunately we never came across any. Santa Marian Home reef is an awesome reef that comes up to 20 meters from 35 meters.
It is a big reef too, so gives you lots of options depending on the current. We had crystal water the entire time we where there and got good fish most dives. We were waiting for that day that you know is coming in Moz when everything turns
on. Unfortunately Jarv and Hamish had to leave early to get home. Sods law the last 2
days after they left were those days we were waiting for. A mate of mine came across from Maputo so we had a top man and Craig and I had the entire ocean to ourselves for the last 2 days of diving. Our second last day we spent at Santa Maria for an afternoon dive. As we got in the water first down and there were couta around. I put one on the boat and as I was sorting out my line a shoal of over 50 dorado surrounded me. My line on my reel gun was all over the place from the couta so I shouted for another gun and as it hit the water I managed to load and do a duck dive and plug a decent dorrie.
This continued for about an hour before it quietened down and we managed a few more couta and dorado. Craig also got a very nice prodigal round the 20kg mark. We hit the house and filleted all the fish and bombed it in the freezer ready for an early start the next day. It was our last day and we planned on spending it up a Baixia de Nais. We launched early that morning and were up at Baxia de Nais by 6am. We got our first drift wrong, but were spot on with the second one. The next 2 and a half hours were by far the best couta action we had all trip. We stopped diving just before 9 o’clock and I think we ended up with 9 couta and one Great Barracuda on the boat. The smallest was around the 10kg mark and the biggest 18 kg. It was a great mornings dive and an excellent way to end the trip. We were back with the girls by 10:30 and spent the rest of the day on the beach.
Santa Maria is an awesome destination and has some really good diving potential. Although we did not get any trophy gamefish the potential is there. The thought of the elusive doggie swimming around is enough to get me back there one day!! Having a west
coast sunset on the east coast is also special. You can sit in the bay and look back towards Maputo while the sun sets over the sea. Really cool!