Many developing countries are expanding their network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to meet ambitious marine conservation targets set globally and to develop tourism nationally. This study explores the human dimensions of MPA planning in Mozambique by engaging local resource users in a series of structured discussions about marine resource use, pressures on marine resources, ways to address such pressures, and the potential positive and negative impacts of MPAs on the management of marine resources and livelihoods, from a community perspective. Findings show that the groups and communities interviewed are at best ambivalent towards MPAs while at the same time supporting increased government regulation, including conventional fisheries management measures. The study suggests that without significant community involvement in the choice of marine conservation tools, the drive to establish MPAs to achieve biodiversity conservation and tourism development goals may be counterproductive, at least in terms of poverty alleviation and sustainable resource use. It argues that a wider range of marine conservation approaches and tools needs to be considered in addition to MPAs, taking into consideration local views and institutional capacities.