Some of the best locations for beginners and novices are off the west coast and Zanzibar Town. Access is generally easy and the underwater topography, fauna and flora are varied and excellent. There are also some good wreck dives for the more experienced diver.

The experienced divers will invariably head for the sites off Pemba Island. The diving here is generally more challenging and rewarding. The added advantage of being a little further from Zanzibar Island is that there are fewer divers during the high season.

When to dive? If you are coming to the Zanzibar Islands specifically for the diving then you should bear the following in mind:
1. The rainy season from March to May often produces variable weather and consequently variable diving conditions.
2. The monsoon winds are an important determining factor! From June to October during the southwesterly winds you are
....better off in the north of the island. Conversely, during the northeasterly winds from November to March you are better off
....in the south.
3. September to December is generally the calmest time of year.
4. On Zanzibar the western, more sheltered coastlines are generally better for diving.

 

           

Zanzibar Island - STONE TOWN
Stone Town is a great place to start off your dives as there are various reefs close by, which can be used as a refresher if you have not dived for a while. The dives in the area are relatively cheap and some of the wrecks provide some spectacular sights. Below is a summary of what you can see.

Pegasus Wreck
Depth: 40m
This is a 50m long wreck thought to be the remains of the Pegasus, which was sunk in 1916 by the German gunship Koenigsberg. It is for experienced divers only and you will be able to see tuna, trevally, barracuda, jack fish, lionfish and giant stingrays.

Boribu Reef
Depth: 30m
This is a great reef with impressive coral formations including spectacular columna corals, honeycombs, Georgian Fans and massive barrel sponges. Some larger pelagics including barracuda, jacks, tuna, moray eels and large lobsters. It is about 45 minutes out of Stone Town so is quite a trek, but is well worth it.

Bawe Island
Depth: 18m
The reef is located about 20 minutes outside Stone Town and you will find beautiful corals like Acropora, Staghorn, brain coral and a large variety of reef fish. On occasion you may see moray, octopus and pufferfish.

Bahari Wreck
Depth: 30m
This is a 50 year old wreck which would have been used for transport of spares and heavy equipment from the quayside to Royal Navy ships anchored in the harbour. It is the home of Sweepers and Fusiliers, and resident Silver Sweetlips. Other fish that you might see include Guinea Fowl Blaasops, Large Stingray, Scorpion Fish and Cobia. It is located about 20 minutes out of Stone Town.

Great Northern Wreck
Depth: 16m
This is the remains of an old cable layer that sank in 1900. The wreck has plenty of fish, eels and a huge variety of coral. Visibility in the area is excellent.

Murogo Reef
Depth: 24m
This is home to many turtles and has a sloping reef wall with a large variety of coral and fish.

Pange Reef
Depth: 14m
This reef is ideal for Open Water Dive courses as it is calm and shallow. An enormous array of coral and tropical reef fish can be found, including Clown Fish, Parrot Fish, Moorish Idol and many others. Many people do night dives on the reef to see cuttlefish, squid, crab and other night dwellers.

Unidentified Barge
Depth: 40m
This is definitely only for experienced deep divers. The wreck attracts huge amounts of Big Bluefin, Trevally, Barracuda, Sting Rays, Cobia, Jew Fish and Morays. Only 4 people are allowed to go out to the reef at a time. Beacause of this, the dive costs a little extra.

Nyange Reef
Depth: 26m
This is the largest reef on the west coast and has several unique dive sites. A new series of coral which marine biologists believe is endemic to Nyange, has been identified on this reef.


Zanzibar Island - NUNGWI
Nungwi is the one of the most popular places for diving on the island of Zanzibar. Although there are only 3 major reefs if you get tired of these, most dive shops can arrange diving out to Mnemba.

Leven Bank
Depth: 40m
Due to the strong currents this is only for experienced divers. In our opinion this is the best reef off the island of Zanzibar. What makes it so attractive is the array of reef and pelagic fauna that includes Guitarfish, Tuna, Moray Eels, Barracuda, Dolphins, and White Tip Reef Sharks. There is a huge variety of coral with clusters of Honeycomb and Pillar Coral.

Hunga Reef
Depth: 20m
The reef is ideal for beginner divers and has a large variety of reef fish amongst some very well preserved coral. Large schools of Unicorn and Surgeonfish can be seen and the occasional Barracuda and Reef Shark.

Nankiville
Depth: 20m
This reef is also ideal for the less experienced diver. The large coral rock formation has some very impressive Brain and Plate Coral. You will see a good variety of reef fish, Lobster, Wrasse and Barracuda.


Zanzibar Island - MNEMBA
Mnemba and the East Coast provide for some spectacular diving, particularly for the more experienced divers. The reefs are easily accessible and many resorts on the East Coast have dive facilities.

Kichwani
Depth: 20 to 40m
This reef includes large coral species such as Mushroom, Honeycomb, Brain and Staghorn coral. Below 30m a vertical wall of reef fish, Trumpetfish, Large Napolean Wrasse, Reef Sharks and Manta Rays can be seen. Now and again you might come across a dolphin. Kichwani is excellent for drift diving along a wall.

Wattabomi
Depth: 10-15m
This is excellent for snorkelling and novice divers. The reef includes small reef fish, Regal Angelfish, Bluestreak, Cleaner Wrasse, eels and Blue Spotted Rays. Look for Flounders and Soles who lie buried on their sides in the sand. Most of the year you will find Bottlenosed, Spinner and Common Dolphins.

Aquarium
Depth: 18m
The name speaks for itself; it is like swimming in an aquarium. There is a very slight current and you should see Surgeonfish, Moorish Idols, Large Hawkesbill, Green Turtles and White Tip Reef Sharks.

The Big Wall

Depth: 30-50m
Descending down to 30m you drift along a vertical wall. There are many pelagic schools of Rainbow Runner, Bluefin Trevally and sometimes Common Dolphin fish. There are also many small caves to explore. During September and October there is a possibility that you can catch a ride on the back of a Whale Shark.

Coral Garden
Depth: 25m
This reef has a very large variety of beautiful coral, particularly Big Fan coral. There are plenty of fish including Goatfish, Moorish Idols, Kingfish and Barracudas, which drift along the backdrop.


PEMBA ISLAND
The diving around Pemba Island is some of the best in the archipelago! Here’s why!

Emerald Reef
Depth: 30m
The average visibility on this reef is 30m. It derives its name from the green coral covering. It is located on the southern most point of Pemba and is subject to strong currents. There is a gentle slope from 7 - 30m where many large brown marbled grouper are found. Most varieties of fish life are found between 20m & 25m and these include damselfish, goldies and fusiliers. A large school of giant barracuda frequent the area. On occasion hammerhead sharks have been seen.

Panza Wreck
Depth: 14m
A shallow dive on an old 100m long Greek freighter called the Paraportiani, which sank in 1969, lying on an inside passage between the outer and inner reefs. You can only dive on a slack low or a slack high. Strong currents do occur. Best visibility is on a slack high, when there is always a mild current present. The stern, which is intact, lies at a depth of 7m to 9 m while the bow lies in 12m to 14 m. The large helm is still in place. An enormous variety of fish call the wreck home, including glassfish, a resident juvenile napoleon wrasse, abundant unicorn fish of different types, lionfish and trevally.

Samaki Reef
Depth: 20m
This is a large flat reef on the edge of the Pemba Channel, at a depth of +20m. It is best for experienced divers, as strong currents are common. There are scattered unspoilt corals richly inhabited by diverse marine life. Look out for lobster, octopus and moray eels hiding amongst the bommies, surrounded by large schools of Trevally, Surgeonfish and Fusiliers.

Mesali Big Blue
Depth: 40m
For experienced divers only!! Drop into the blue and get swept along Mesali's Southern Channel. You need eyes in the back of your head for this dive, as the possibility of reef sharks, barracuda and giant rays is high.

Makarere Reef
Depth: +30m
An interesting, undulating reef set on a sandy slope on Mesali's southwestern edge. A series of coral hillocks extend from the top of the reef at 8-10m to the bottom at more than 30m. The corals are home to torpedo rays, moray eels and lobsters, along with many reef fish while the sandy valleys are home to schools of surgeon and unicorn fish, roaming napoleon wrasse and large spotted eagle rays. This area is in dolphin territory and you can often hear a pod of friendly spinners nearby.

Mesali Coral Garden - Razorback Reef
Depth: 45m
The coral garden runs North - South mainly conducted as a drift dive. It consists of a multitude of different corals, all in extremely good condition. At its Southernmost point the corals might not be at their best but turtles can be sighted here. The whole site has at least three resident Napoleon Fish, varying in size. The Razorback Reef and a further deep reef for experienced divers can be included on this dive. The inside face of the razorback reaches 30m while the outside face reaches 40m. There is excellent fish life all around this reef. The deep reef can be looked at from the top at 45m, from where very large Napoleon Fish and a 2.5 m bull shark have been seen.

Mesali Coral Mountain
Depth: +45m
Rose coral dominates this beautiful mountainous site, to which some unusual fish such as the leaf fish, are attracted. Octopus and lobsters can be seen here and manta rays have been spotted passing through the area. Depths reach 80 m. Many other game fish such as dog tooth tuna, rainbow runner and trevally hunt on the mountain and blue striped fusiliers abound.

Mapinduzi
Depth: +45m
A wall dive dropping to 45 m with large gorgonians and fan corals adorning its sides. This site has also had sightings of manta rays, big shoals of barracuda and sharks. Giant triggerfish live here in large numbers. They are Pemban triggers and are not aggressive.

Uvinje Gap
Depth: 40m
A spectacular sheer wall, dropping to over 40m, with breathtaking overhangs and numerous fish such as Moorish Idols, Butterfly and Angelfish hiding amongst the black corals commonplace in this area. Large Groupers and Napoleon Wrasse can be spotted at depth. There is plenty of life in the shallows, with thousands of goldies playing amongst the large coral bommies.

Uvinje Outer Walls
Depth: +40m
The coral on the North wall is in excellent condition with large gorgonians and fan corals surrounded by the thousands of ever-present goldies. Manta and spotted eagle rays are known to frequent the area as well as giant reef rays and hawksbill and green turtles. Schools of Tuna, Barracuda and large Napoleon Wrasse have been seen here. The top of the site starts at 7 m and in places, terraces down to below 40m.The South Wall starts at 6m and drops again to 40m+. Here again you may see Napoleon Fish, large Grouper and some Pelagics. Here let the current swing you into the gap along the spectacular sheer wall.

The Balcony
Depth: +30m
A deep wall from 7 m to 100m, covered in Sea Whips and Gorgonian Fans, with a giant overhang hence the name. Look out for large Napoleon Wrasse, big Mackerel, Jackfish and large numbers of Fusiliers.

The Cave
Depth: +30m
The top of the reef is a shallow 4 m sandy bottom with a sheer cliff face dropping down to more than 100m. A cave is found on this wall at depth. Large Pelagics are ever present and the currents can be strong. Look out for turtles on the wall.

Fundu South Wall
Depth: +40m
Strong currents can be present and as on many dives in Pemba, only recommended for experienced divers. The reef lies from 5m to 40m+. Shallow caverns and sheer wall faces make up the topography of this wall with superb coral formations and plentiful fish life. Kingfish, Jacks, Barracuda and Napoleons are present with Humphead Parrotfish and Sweetlips swimming around the Yellow Fans.

Manta Point
Depth: 40m
A coral pinnacle reaching up from 40m to within 8m of the surface situated just outside the mouth of Fundu Gap. Due to its name you would expect proverbial luck not to provide manta ray sightings. However they do still come into this area occasionally - sometimes visiting a cleaning station and sometimes just cruising out of the blue at any depth. The pinnacle is covered in beautiful dense, corals and drops dramatically on its Western side. The abundance of fish on this reef makes it a superb dive - one of the best - with or without the coveted manta ray. Circling the pinnacle you can watch the behaviour of large Jack fish, schools of Surgeonfish and Fusiliers, the occasional Reef Shark and turtle.

The Gauntlet
Depth: 25m
This exhilarating dive at Fundu Gap is best on an incoming tide dropping into the water at the top end of the reef at around 10m, where you can find a series of pretty coral bommies to swim over and down at 25m where you will find yourself on top of the wall, being swept into the Gap and across the Gauntlet. This can be extremely quick so sit back and enjoy the ride. Interesting overhangs and rock formations caused by deep fissures in the cliff face are a spectacle.

Mandela Wall
Depth: 15m
The top of Mandela Wall is between 8 and 15m deep and drops dramatically to 200m + in some parts. The vertical drop is adorned with gorgonian sea fans and whip corals. Keep your eyes peeled for large pelagics and also for the beautiful manta ray which may pass by.

Njao Gap
Depth: 18m
Njao Gap North is a beautiful coral garden starting at 5 m and sloping down to 18 m before dropping away into the deep blue of the wall. Resident green and hawksbill turtles are a common sighting and the currents can be strong and exhilarating. Njao Gap South is best dived using the Northerly current to sweep you inside. Drift dive this reef with large Napoleon Wrasse and look out for more turtles in the cabbage corals which abound. As you enter the gap look out for Manta Rays as the bottom again drops away to form a breathtaking immense vertical wall reaching un-diveable depths.

home | about islandsonly | editors choice | explore resorts | travel shop | enquiries | site map | site credits

Copyright © IslandsOnly TravCo (Pty) Ltd 2004 - 2013. All rights reserved. Terms of use
webmaster@islandsonly.com