Perched on the northern bank of the Limpopo River, 224km (135 miles) north of Maputo, is the medium-sized town of Xai-Xai, the capital of Gaza province. Although severely damaged by the 2000 floods, Xai-Xai, with a population of over 100,000, has wide avenues lined with flamboyant trees, and offers ice (gelo), service stations, supermarkets, open-air markets, restaurants, international telephones, banks and a hospital. Clean toilets (a luxury anywhere in Mozambique) can be found at the first BP service station on your left, after crossing the toll bridge (when going south, a small fee is levied) over the Limpopo River.
Praia do Xai-Xai
On the northern outskirts of Xai-Xai town, turn down to Xai-Xai beach, 10km (6 miles) away. A favourite fishing spot of South African anglers, Xai-Xai tends to be busy during the South African school holidays (June–July and December–January). The beaches here are long and clean, but due to its exposed position Xai-Xai has developed a reputation for being somewhat windswept.
Walking 7km (41?2 miles) north from the developed area, you will encounter Praia do Chongoene with the abandoned Hotel Chongoene (now part of an ambitious new project). On the nearby beach are the remnants of a rusty shipwreck almost completely covered by sand.
A large tidal pool known as Wenela (after a house owned by the recruitment agency of the same name), which overlooks the pool, lies 5km (3 miles) south of Xai-Xai beach. A large blowhole in the reef is exposed at low tide, but do beware of swimming near it due to the treacherous currents. To members of the African Pentecostal Church, Wenela is ‘Jordan’, a holy place where colourful baptism ceremonies are held.