Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Zanzibar’s underwater marvels include a magnificent array of hard and soft corals and a diverse collection of sea creatures, including manta rays, both hawksbill and green turtles, barracudas, dolphins, and much more.
One of the best places for both diving and snorkeling is around Mnemba Island off the northeast coast of Zanzibar. There are many additional excellent dive spots, including wrecks, around the main Zanzibar Island, Pemba Island, in the channel between the two, as well as around Mafia Island. Excellent sites for snorkeling can be found in the Menai Bay Conservation Area off the southwest coast of Zanzibar, Chumbe Island, Mafia Island’s Chole Bay, and many locations right off the beach at low tide.
The best time for diving in East Africa is from September through March, though good diving can be found at any time of the year. February is the best time to view whale sharks. Water temperature at all sites ranges from 75° to 85° Fahrenheit (25° to 29° Celsius) and visibility ranges from 50 to 200 feet (15 to 60 meters). It is recommended to dive or snorkel as the tide starts to come in, as an outgoing tide may bring sediments that lower visibility at close-in sites.
A dhow is the traditional one-masted wooden sailing boat with lanteen sails used for long distance trade and travel in the Indian Ocean region. Its graceful form is a symbol of the East African coast.
Cruising the small islands around Zanzibar in a dhow for a day or a few hours is a memorable and romantic experience. Day cruises usually include a stop at a sandbank or outer island for lunch and swimming; evening cruises include light refreshments. The sunsets viewed from the dhow are evocative and timeless.
The village of Paje, on Zanzibar’s southeast coast is the main kitesurfing area with its shallow waters, sandy bottom, and consistent winds. The off-shore reef offers amazing waves for more experienced kitesurfers seeking wave riding, wake styling, and free riding.
swimming with dolphins
The most common place to swim with dolphins is off the village of Kizimkazi on the southwest coast of Zanzibar, where they can be be seen most days.
However, due to large numbers of boats and tourists at peak times, and uncontrolled chasing and “corralling” of dolphins by some operators, the dolphins are increasingly stressed. While a code of conduct for operators and swimmers has been established, it seems not to be carefully followed.