Our diving adventures have taken us from Australia to South America and to lots of places in between. Diving in Africa has always been on our bucket list.
From the incredible coral reefs in the Egyptian Red Sea to megafauna in Mozambique, and the tropical fish capital of East Africa in Zanzibar, there is no shortage of amazing diving destination on the African continent.
Our recent trip to Zanzibar Island in Tanzania allowed us to finally get a taste for diving in Africa and the experience was even better than we expected.
SCUBA DIVING IN ZANZIBAR
Zanzibar offers something for everyone. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver with hundreds of divers behind your belt, there are dive sites in Zanzibar suitable for all interests and experience levels.
There are shallow dives with lovely coral gardens, deep walls, and even a few wrecks. The waters are home to turtles, dolphins, over 400 type of colourful fish, nudibranchs, and a variety of corals and other marine life. Whale sharks, manta rays, and reef sharks are rare but have also been spotted in the waters around Zanzibar.
Best time to Dive in Zanzibar is from mid-February to mid-May and from mid-October to -mid-December when visibility is at it’s best and the sea is flat. Water temperatures in Zanzibar can range from 24-25C in July/August to 28-29C in January/February.
The most popular dive sites around Zanzibar are clustered in the northern tip of the island and around the Mnemba Atoll in northeast.
DIVING AT MNEMBA ISLAND
The Mnemba Island is a privately owned island, located on the Northeast coast of Zanzibar Island. The Island is home to the &Beyond Mnemba Island Lodge, and although for most travelers a stay at this amazing island paradise won’t be in the books, the large circular reef (Mnemba Atoll) that surrounds the island is opened for exploration.
The Mnemba Atoll is a Marine Reserve and conservation area in Zanzibar. The atoll is teeming with wildlife and is considered to be one of the best regions for diving in all of Zanzibar.
There are about a dozen dive sites surrounding the atoll and a number of PADI certified Dive Shops in Stone Town and on the Northeast Coast of Zanzibar Island offer dive trips to the Mnemba Atoll.
OUR EXPERIENCE DIVING AT MNEMBA ISLAND
To escape the hustle and bussle of Stone Town, we made our way to Zanzibar’s Northeast Coast, where we booked a few nights at the Sunshine Marine Lodge, conveniently located just 3kms from the Mnemba Atoll.
At the lodge, the crew from Dive Point Zanzibar set us up with a 2 day dive package to the Mnemba Atoll. The following morning, we tried on our gear, and joined another group of three for a morning of diving. Our boat was small but perfectly suitable to accommodate 6 divers, 2 Dive Masters, and a support crew.
The trip to the first dive site took no more than 20 mins. It was just long enough for our instructor to prep us for the day ahead and for us to enjoy the beauty of the crystal clear waters surrounding the island.
Our first dive site was the Aquarium, located on the southern side of Mnemba Island. The site was shallow full of colourful fish and coral. We stayed down for just under an hour, plenty of time to enjoy the large schools of fish, spot a few turtles, and even a few nudibranchs.
Our hour-long surface interval was spent drinking tea and enjoying the views of the Mnemba Island. A pod of dolphins joined us for a little while, but sadly they were chased away by a number of boats handing out in the Atoll. The tourists just had to get closer to take a photo. We were pleased to see that our captain didn’t follow suit.
Our second dive, took us to the eastern side of Mnemba, to a dive site the Big Wall. This dive site features a vertical wall that dropped from 18 to 55 meters. The wall had plenty of caves and lots of marine life, including turtles, napoleons, groupers, and schools of smaller fish. We spent the majority of our time, around 12-15m deep, dipping down to 25m about half way through the dive.
The ride back was smooth and easy. The tide had gone out by the time we got back to shore, so our dive boat had to drop us off at the beach near Sunshine Marine Lodge where we grabbed a Dala Dala back to our huts at the lodge.
Disclaimer: We received a discount on our dive with Dive Point Zanzibar, but that in no way influenced our opinion of the company or our experience diving at the Mnemba Island.