Scuba Diving In Zanzibar

Scuba Diving In Zanzibar: Everything to know about Zanzibar Scuba Diving: Many ardent scuba divers place Zanzibar diving high on their bucket lists, and it’s easy to understand why. In this Zanzibar scuba diving guide, we’ll go over the locations of some of the best dive sites in Zanzibar and the ideal times to dive there. We’ll also discuss the marine life you can anticipate seeing on your trip. Zanzibar has dives for everyone, whether they prefer wall or reef diving, macro or pelagic species, etc.


Zanzibar, which is made up of several idyllic islands encircled by pristine waters, offers an impressive variety of dive sites. The marine life is also incredibly diverse. On a single dive, you might see anything from minuscule leaf fish to groups of dolphins.

Zanzibar is a beach lover’s paradise thanks to its warm climate and abundance of palm-lined, white-sand beaches. Additionally, you can hop over to mainland Tanzania for a Wildlife safari trip in between dive days if you want to change things up a bit.


The Zanzibar Archipelago is a group of islands off the coast of Tanzania, about 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Dar es Salaam.

Its largest island is Unguja Island, also referred to as the main Zanzibar Island. Stone Town, also known as Zanzibar City, serves as Unguja’s capital. The silky waters near and around Unguja are dotted with numerous smaller islands, such as Pemba Island, Mafia Island, and Mnemba Island.

Prepare for diving in Zanzibar’s pristine coral reefs, which are home to an amazing variety of marine life, including marlin, turtles, dolphins, barracudas, tons of tropical fish, and, if you’re lucky, reef sharks.

Zanzibar, which has a rich and dramatic history, has a variety of things to do for tourists, including intimate dhow sailing, cultural excursions through local villages (Nungwi), walks among the ruins of the once-opulent Maruhubi Palace, and, of course, the renowned spice tours, which brilliantly inform visitors about the intricate connections between the East African slave and spice trades.


Three inhabited islands and a number of uninhabited islands make up the Zanzibar archipelago. The majority of them are part of Zanzibar, a region with some autonomy. The United Republic of Tanzania is made up of Zanzibar and Tanzania as a whole. Only 50 kilometers (30 miles) of the Indian Ocean separate them. Despite this, Zanzibar’s laid-back atmosphere makes it seem a million miles from the hectic mainland.

The largest and most populous island in Zanzibar, also known as Zanzibar Island, is Unguja Island. From Dar es Salaam, you can travel by plane or boat to Unguja. Flights last about 30 minutes, and boat trips last about 1.5 to 2 hours.

The second-largest island in Zanzibar is called Pemba Island. It is frequently referred to as the “Green Island” because of its lush vegetation. Bicycles are the most popular mode of transportation, and they are quieter than Unguja.

 It is possible to take a ferry from Unguja to Pemba, but the crossing can be challenging. As a result, the majority of passengers select a chartered flight. The flight costs fairly little and lasts about 30 minutes.

Many visitors to Zanzibar also go to Mafia Island, even though it isn’t actually part of Zanzibar. A quick flight (about 30 minutes) can get you there from Unguja Island. The smaller islands require a boat trip to get to; if you need sea sickness medication, remember to bring it.


Zanzibar’s coral reefs are some of the world’s most colorful, and they are home to more than 500 species of fish. There, you’ll discover all the typical reef fish of the Indian Ocean, such as butterfly fish, angel fish, fusiliers, parrotfish, and damsels. On most dives, you can also see a lot of the area’s more unusual inhabitants, such as turtles, cuttlefish, and octopuses.

Zanzibar differs from other top-tier diving locations in part due to the abundance of smaller species there. The well-known Spanish dancer is among the countless nudibranchs that abound on the reefs. Couples of seahorses with their tails intertwined can be seen, and there are countless leaf fish.

Additionally, diving with pelagic species is fantastic in Zanzibar. Dolphin sightings are frequent, and the drop-offs are frequently patrolled by barracuda, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, and giant trevallies. Additionally, if you dive during the right season, cross your fingers to see the following:

  • Hammerhead sharks (November to February)
  • Humpback whales: July to October
  • Manta rays: December to April
  • Whale sharks: October to February
  • Dugongs: year-round on Mafia Island


Zanzibar enjoys year-round highs of 29–33°C (84–91°F) and water temperatures that rarely fall below 25°C (77°F) thanks to its close proximity to the equator. Planning a dive trip to Zanzibar should take into account the fact that there are two monsoon seasons. Both last from March to May, with one lasting from November to December. Usually, the worst month of the year is April. Rough seas and a lot of rain can restrict activities on the water and on land during these times.

 Due to this, December through January or July through September are the busiest travel seasons for tourists in Zanzibar. Due to the excellent visibility, February, March, July, and August are typically regarded as the best months to dive in Zanzibar.


In summary, diving is possible year-round in Zanzibar, though the prime diving months are November through March. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced advanced diver, Zanzibar’s diving conditions are excellent. The water in this region of the Indian Ocean is exceptionally clear, the coral reefs are in excellent condition, and the temperature ranges between 27 and 29 degrees Celsius from November to May.

 The archipelago is a well-liked location for scuba diving because of its fantastic diving conditions and year-round high visibility. In particular, the Mnemba Atoll and Misali Island draw both experienced divers and those looking to learn the sport.

Thirty diving locations in the vicinity of Zanzibar offer consistently warm water temperatures of 27°C and visibility of up to 60m, making them ideal for scuba diving with large fish like whale sharks, tuna, barracudas, and wahoo.

 With its exceptional marine biodiversity and crystal-clear conditions, the stretch of water between Unguja and Pemba draws many divers to Zanzibar. It also has some of the best diving sites in East Africa. The majority of diving schools and day trips are run by reputable businesses, but before making any reservations, confirm that your instructors and guides are PADI certified.


Scuba divers in Tanzania have a wide variety of dive sites to choose from due to the abundance of islands in the country. Here are the list:

Unguja (Island of Zanzibar)

The majority of tourists arrive in Zanzibar at Unguja Island, which is surrounded by pristine waters and is dotted with tiny islands. Beginner divers or those who simply want to take it easy should dive the inner reef. For experienced scuba divers, there are also many deeper dives available.

Kizimkazi Reef

The Menai Bay Conservation Area’s Kizimkazi Reef, which is a part of Unguja Island, is situated there. The abundance of marine life in this area is not surprising. There are many coral gardens that are accessible to beginners, as well as some deeper wall dives. This area is known for its frequent sightings of dolphins and reef sharks, and depending on the time of year, you might also see manta rays or humpback whales.

Leven Bank

A boat trip to Leven Bank, which is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Zanzibar Island, will take a little longer than some of the closer dive sites, but it’s worth it. The ‘bank’ is really just a huge mound that rises from the ocean floor. The mound’s walls are covered in corals, which also support a variety of reef species. Because of the deep water nearby, Leven Bank is also a fantastic location to see pelagic species.

It’s definitely worthwhile to keep an eye out for these while you dive, including dolphins, Napoleon wrasse, whitetip reef sharks, and various ray species. Even at 12 meters (40 feet) below the surface, you can catch a glimpse of the mound’s tip. However, the majority of divers spend their time exploring the walls’ slopes, sometimes diving down to depths of 30 meters (100 feet).

 The site is vulnerable to strong currents due to its location. This means that the site is typically only available to experienced scuba divers, despite the fact that it keeps the water clean and the visibility clear.

Pemba Island

Just north of Unguja Island is Pemba Island, which has some truly breathtaking marine scenery. Untouched by human intervention, the pristine barrier reefs offer enough coral plateaus, wall dives, and pulsating currents to keep any diver occupied for days.

Scuba Diving In Zanzibar
Pemba Island

Coral Mountain

Here, you can explore a wall that slopes gradually from 5 to 20 meters (15 to 65 feet) down before ending in a sheer drop-off. Divers of all levels can take in the breathtaking scenery because there is typically no current here. This location has an incredible diversity of coral and fish species, as well as an abundance of macro-life and larger animals like rays, octopuses, and turtles.

Mapinduzi Reef

The name “Mapinduzi,” which means “revolution” in English, accurately describes the erratic currents that surround this dive site. It’s definitely not for the weak of heart. Advanced divers who are accustomed to diving in currents, however, will find a lot to enjoy at this location. Giant groupers, schools of barracuda, and Napoleon wrasse are frequently seen along the wall’s 30 m (100 ft) slope. There is a sharp drop-off at the wall’s edge where you can occasionally see hammerhead sharks and other large pelagic species.

Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island is just a short distance (less than 5 km) from Unguja Island. A marine reserve protects the area of water surrounding the island. As a result, the marine life in this area is thriving.

You can easily get to this private island from Unguja Island on a dive boat, though staying there won’t be in everyone’s price range. There is something for every level of diver at the various dive sites, which range from calm coral gardens to deeper wall dives.


The Wattabomi dive site, one of Zanzibar’s most well-known dive locations, is a haven for marine life. From 6 to 30 meters (20 to 100 feet), the wall gently slopes, offering plenty of exploration opportunities. It should come as no surprise that both novice and experienced divers like to dive there.

Pinnacles covering the wall itself are home to a wide variety of coral species. Schools of reef fish swim in the turquoise water, and you can also see octopus, stingrays, and other creatures there.

 You’ll enjoy finding scorpionfish, stonefish, and frogfish hiding among the corals if you enjoy macro photography. But don’t forget to stop occasionally and scan your surroundings for dolphins that may be passing by!

Mafia Island

Although technically not a part of Zanzibar, Mafia Island is frequently visited by tourists while they are in the area. The protected waters surrounding this undeveloped island are home to some of the world’s best coral reefs.

The main attraction on Mafia Island is seeing whale sharks. They are widespread on the island and virtually certain from October to February. If that wasn’t enough, dugongs and leatherback turtles can also be seen in the lagoons and nearby waters.


Epic reef diving with big corals in excellent condition and an abundance of marine life is guaranteed thanks to the protected status of many diving locations in Zanzibar and nearby island groups. There are more than 200 species of coral in this area, including soft coral, staghorn, Elkhorn, brain, tabletop, finger, and mushroom. The waters near Zanzibar are typically clear, and visibility can occasionally reach 30 meters. Sea horses, harlequin shrimps, snake eels, octopus, and the bizarre and fascinating Indian Ocean Walkman are all to be expected.


As a low-lying coral atoll, Zanzibar is ideal for beginning divers. A lagoon is surrounded by a ring-shaped reef with a coral rim and a few tiny islands or cays. Mnemba Atoll, which is located to the east of the main Zanzibar Island, is a prime example of this. It’s undoubtedly a place to start or advance your diving skills with its perfectly preserved coral walls and countless marine life in astonishingly clear waters.


In addition, Zanzibar is among the top locations in the world for spotting the infamous whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean. Although they can be seen from October to April, whale shark sightings are most frequent in November and December, which is also humpback whale season. Pemba Island’s North Horn is well known for its whitetip and silvertip shark sightings. The 7-kilometer reef at Mnemba Atoll is a fantastic conservation endeavor. Between September and December, dolphins, turtles, and whale sharks can all be seen here.


There is a small area called Kizimkazi, which is well known for its dolphin population, tucked away along the southwest tip of the island. Dolphins can frequently be seen playing in the waves.

Another excellent place to see dolphins is Kiwengo Bay, particularly during the dry season when they enter shallow waters in search of food. Every day except Sunday, dolphin-watching excursions leave from Kiwengo Beach.


Here is a comprehensive list of the majority of diving locations in the Zanzibar Archipelago for your reference.

  • Shane Reef (Northwest Zanzibar)
  • Coral Garden, Mbwandawa, Haji, Kichafi, Misoli, and Leon’s Wall (Northeast Zanzibar)
  • Hunga and Nankivell Reefs (West Zanzibar)
  • Mnemba Atoll Dives (a small island east of Zanzibar)
  • Nankivell and Hunga Reefs (northwest of the main Zanzibar Island)
  • Kichwani and the Small Wall (South Mnemba)
  • Mnemba Sandbanks, Drift Dives, and Turtle Reef (Southeast Mnemba)
  • Coral Garden, The Big Wall, and Jackfish (East Mnemba)
  • Indian Gate (North Mnemba)
  • West Bank and West Gardens (Mnemba)
  • Grouper’s Rock, Aquarium, and Wattabomi (Southwest Mnemba)
  • Mwana Wa Mwana (Tumbatu Island, west of Zanzibar’s main island)
  • Ras Mskitini (Tumbatu Island)
  • Three Turtles (Tumbatu Island)