Xai Xai Beach - Soon to Prosper from Xai Xai's Growth, or Continue Decades of Sustained Neglect?
A South African favourite, but avoided by Maputo's masses, Xai Xai Beach has the potential to relive its beach town glories of colonial years but the scars of the past leave an indelible scar. An unkept but at the same time commanding stairway leads from the church all the way down to the sandy beach surrounded by grazing goats and shabbily built corrugated iron shacks specialising in the sale of cheap alcohol. The dominant building at the base of this stairway is a three storey ruin of what was surely going to be Xai Xai's Grand Hotel. A fading sign outside promises that the hotel is to be renovated with a fourth floor added to it - a sign that is as decrepit as the building itself.
Xai Xai Beach is a virtual ghost town outside of South African School holidays. This seasonal character explains why many of the ruins remain. Movement picks up on the weekend as habitants of the burgeoning city of Xai Xai take advantage of their nearby beach. The iconic Halley's is the centre of nightclub action every Friday night, not only for Xai Xai Beach, but Xai Xai City too.
It's this burgeoning city that could be the saviour for this nearby beach with the same name. Xai Xai City is hugged by the Limpopo River which flooded again this year after it made world headlines in 2000. This natural border is pushing Xai Xai towards its beach, giving hope that Xai Xai Beach will one day return to its glow of yesteryear after a seriously needed facelift.
What to do
Xai Xai is about the beach. Fishing, swimming, or just plain relaxing. To tick a box you should probably climb the "Stairway to Heaven" in the centre of town too. The "natural swimming pool" that the reef barrier creates at low tide is fantastic for families with small children.
What to Avoid
The natural rock pool is a delight for families at low tide, but for a couple of hours at high tide it becomes very dangerous with wicked rip. Also be careful of broken glass seemingly strewn around the entire beach.
Where to Stay
Check out our Xai Xai page for two fantastic options - the lovely self-catering homes at Reef Resort, or the comfortable rooms at Tsamisseka Guesthouse that open straight out onto the sands of the beach. Drive a little further north and you will find the pristine beaches of Chizavane and Chidenguele. Don't stay at the Faulty Towersesque "Halley's" on Friday nights if you have any wish to sleep. Fantastic Accommodation options also exist in nearby Bilene.
What to Eat
Seafood, Seafood and Seafood. Prawns, fish, oysters, you name it. Xai Xai's relative distance from Maputo ensures that seafood can still be bought at a bargain. Many of the South African lodges serve great servings of ocean fresh food. If you eat at Halley's, or its beach terrace, be prepared for a long long wait. If you long for something other than seafood pop into Xai Xai and eat at the fabulous, albeit grimy, Limpopo Restaurant for great Indian food.
There are few paved roads in this part of Mozambique so you can't get lost. Coming from the south along Mozambique's main highway, the EN1, you will cross the Limpopo River on a large metal bridge after the long drive across the elevated highway on the flood plain.
In Xai Xai after crossing a small bridge look our for a High School on your right. Turn Right at Joaquim Chissano High School on a thinner paved road and continue for 9km.
Written by Blake Gray
Blogs are subjective accounts and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Connection lda.