A lovely town today, and well worth exploring on foot for its many local attractions, Inhambane has not always had a fortunate history, having been used a slave port in the 1760s, and having been embroiled in the civil war that took place in Mozambique from the late 1970s to early 1990s.
Trade is noted as early as the 10th century, when the dominant Shona group had traded with Arab dhow sailors, offering beads, cloth, ceramics and salt in exchange for gold and ivory.
These days the locals make their living largely off the coconut palms that have been planted extensively in the area, along with crafts that can be purchased at the large and vibrant undercover craft market. Subsistence farming occurs in nuts, maize, mangos, and tangerines, along with fishing, and a now-thriving tourism industry contributes much to the local economy.
Among the sites to be seen are the Casa do Cultura, which houses an old metal-type printing press which is still in production, the Museum of Inhambane, steam engines and a statue of Vasco da Gama, who landed in the bay in 1498.
Inhambane is also home to beautiful beaches, including the famous Praia do Tofo and nearby Barra beach. These attract annual visitation by whale shark, manta ray and humpback whales, the greatest concentration being between September and February.