The Best Snorkeling In Zanzibar 2023/2024

The Best Snorkeling In Zanzibar 2023/2024 : The Ultimate Guide : Are you looking for a thrilling adventure? Look no further: snorkeling in Zanzibar is one of the most exciting and unique experiences available. The Zanzibar archipelago, just off the African coast, is a tropical paradise with white sand, turquoise blue water, and swaying coconut trees. Its coastline, while overcrowded in some areas, provides excellent snorkeling from both the beach and the surrounding islets. In the shallow waters of the island, multicolored starfish, clownfish, butterflyfish, moray eels, and surgeonfish are especially easy to spot.

The coasts of Zanzibar, which are surrounded by coral reefs, experience significant tides. This is especially true on the east coast, where you may have to walk hundreds of meters to swim at low tide.

If you can snorkel from the beach in many places, you’ll mostly be restricted to seagrass beds and sandy areas punctuated by more or less extensive coral patches. The underwater life, on the other hand, is abundant, with numerous reef fish and fascinating critters to be seen.

This tropical East African island, home to a wealth of conserved coral reefs, fascinating marine life, and crystal-clear blue waters, offers more than just stunning views on land. Dive beneath the surface to discover some of nature’s most amazing underwater wonders! There are plenty of opportunities to explore under the sea in Zanzibar, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.

Read on as I dive into some of the best spots for snorkeling around this idyllic destination.

Zanzibar is surrounded by great snorkeling spots. While there isn’t much swimming directly from the sandy beaches, if you know where to look, you’ll find an abundance of underwater life that will keep you entertained for hours.


 Mnemba Island

One of Zanzibar’s most well-known snorkeling locations is Mnemba Island. It is a coral island just northwest of Zanzibar that is ringed by a white ring of sand, making it not only a spectacular location to visit but also incredible for underwater life.

 Normally, Mnemba Island has excellent visibility. You might see snapper, surgeonfish, clownfish, moray eels, and a plethora of other vibrant species. It makes sense that Mnemba is a popular location, so you won’t likely find it all to yourself. You can always reserve a night at the opulent Andbeyond hotel if you want to enjoy the reef with a little more privacy.

Chumbe Island Coral Park

The fact that Stone Town is nearby makes this one of Zanzibar’s top snorkeling locations. One of Zanzibar’s most important protected areas is an islet that is nearby and partially surrounded by reefs. Actually, the island has received recognition for its efforts in ecotourism and preservation.

 Among other things, you might see lionfish, octopus, lobsters, eels, rays, and reef fish. You can decide to spend the night here, and occasionally you can join a night snorkel where you might get to see various marine life. It’s also the time of year when the beach’s coconut crabs molt!

Prison Island (or Changuu Island)

This island is even closer to Stone Town, and you can visit both while taking a snorkeling trip here. Although the island was never a prison, the British First Minister of Zanzibar bought it in 1893 and built a prison complex there, giving it that name. It was later used as a quarantine for yellow fever patients; no prisoners were ever housed here.

 Due to the large population of these magnificent creatures that live there freely alongside antelope and peacocks, it is also known as Tortoise Island. Since they have happily resided here for more than a century, they are accustomed to having visitors to their island.

It’s common to combine a snorkeling trip with a visit here so you can see both the amazing wildlife on the land and the fantastic underwater life around the island.

Nungwi Beach

The best beach for snorkeling right from the sand is probably this one. There are some small coral patches and some nice reef fish to admire on the sandy drop-off.

Tumbatu Island

See if you can take a boat trip to Tumbatu Island, a sizable island situated 6 kilometers off the west coast, if you are staying in Nungwi. The local coral gardens offer some fantastic snorkeling opportunities.


The best snorkeling locations in Zanzibar tend to be off the tiny atolls that surround the island, so you should arrange a snorkeling tour to see them. There are many tours available, but we advise booking with a reputable tour operator such as Focus East Africa Tours and paying attention to reviews. There are a variety of snorkeling tours available here.

  1. Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour
  • Price: $55

When visiting Zanzibar, if you only have time for one snorkeling excursion, you should go to the Mnemba Marine Reserve. You’ll be astounded by the variety of life here as soon as you enter the water at one of Africa’s most stunning snorkeling locations. There are many tours available here, and getting there on your own without a vehicle can be challenging.

The day will be unlike any other; it will begin with pickup from your hotel. It will take you 30 minutes to get to Mnemba Island, so hop in your boat and head there.

Enjoy the sunshine while keeping an eye out for dolphins. In Zanzibar, you might even be able to swim with dolphins. When you get to the atoll, go snorkeling among schools of colorful tropical fish, including barracuda, turtles, and yellow snapper.

 Before finally returning to the shore, pause at a stunning Muyuni beach for a delectable, freshly prepared lunch.

 There are guides on board for this small-group tour to ensure that you get the most out of your time there. They have a lot of swimming experience and can guide you to the best locations and teach you how to use your snorkeling gear.

The Best Snorkeling In Zanzibar 2023/2024
Mnemba island
  1. Zanzibar Full Day Mnemba Island, Nungwi, and Kendwa Beach Tour
  • Price: $100

This tour is excellent if you want to fill your day with a variety of activities. To see sea turtles in their natural environment, go to the Baraka Natural Aquarium.

 Discover the bustling fish markets and dhow building sites in the fishing village of Nungwi. Next, take a boat over to Mnemba Island for some amazing snorkeling opportunities. You’ll be in awe of the pristine waters there!

Finally, cap off your day with a breathtaking sunset from a secret beach in Zanzibar. Although lunch is not included, there are some affordable options, and the food is tasty. On your way to the atoll, you might also get a chance to see dolphins, but if you get the chance to swim with them, be sure to educate yourself on best practices.

  1. Snorkeling the Protected Chumbe Island
  • Price: $140

 Dive into the magnificent Chumbe Island Coral Park to discover a world of unmatched beauty. Discover an underwater paradise with its amazing variety of fish, corals, turtles, and other marine life!

 More than 400 species of fish, more than 200 varieties of coral, turtles, and perhaps even a reef shark can be found on the nearly unspoiled reef.

 If you want to spend the night in this paradise, the park offers eco-bungalows, a visitor and education center, nature trails, historical ruins, and a coral reef sanctuary that is completely protected.

  1. Jozani Forest National Park and Snorkeling
  • Price: $146

Utilize the chance to travel to Zanzibar Island early in the morning and discover its wonders. Visit the fishing village of Matemwe for a chance to see graceful dolphins playing in their natural environment while snorkeling through stunning coral reefs filled with colorful sea life.

 Travel deep into Jozani Forest National Park from here to see rare red Columbus monkeys and other exotic wildlife like blue monkeys, elephant shrews, and bush babies! The best wildlife on Zanzibar can be viewed on this tour, both on land and in the water.

  1. Snorkeling off Changuu Island (Prison Island) and Stone Town Tour
  • Price: $78

This tour combines some serious culture with snorkeling off the well-known prison island. If you’re going on this trip with someone who isn’t too keen on snorkeling, Changuu Island might be the ideal compromise because it’s an interesting place in and of itself.

After exploring the island’s tortoise, peacock, and antelope populations, go snorkeling in the nearby waters to see the vibrant fish and coral. Many of the attractive fish species that inhabit these waters can be seen.

After exploring Changuu Island, visit the intriguing Stone Town. You’ll be given a tour of some of the most famous locations while discovering Zanzibar’s rich cultural heritage. Don’t forget to have lunch at a regular restaurant—you’ll be eager to do it after swimming off all those calories!


Despite intensive fishing and overcrowding, the coasts of Zanzibar, which are bathed in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, are home to a diverse reef life. Even in the protected areas, the shallow coral reefs are in very average condition and are easily accessible by swimsuit. However, you can also spot some stunning soft corals, branching corals, and gorgonians in certain locations.

The underwater environment is typically poor on the tidal flats, where the depth rarely exceeds 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters). However, a closer inspection reveals an amazing variety of marine life: anemones, clams, sponges, tiny soft corals, and crinoids cover the rocks.

Numerous other species, including young lionfish, shrimp, gobies, pipefish, small moray eels, and puffers, are readily visible all around. Red-knobbed starfish, Pentaceraster, and nearly a dozen different species of sea urchins can all be found on the sand.

 The Arabian angelfish, the palette surgeonfish (also known as Dory), the powder blue tang, and the blackspotted rubberlip are some of the most stunning fish that can be seen while snorkeling in Zanzibar.

The twobar anemonefish and the skunk clownfish, which frequently share their anemone with a porcelain crab or three spot dascyllus, are two species of clownfish that can be found in the archipelago and can be seen in Zanzibar. At snorkeling depths, they can be found everywhere. However, Zanzibar is not a good place to go if you want to see turtles or rays, as they are hardly ever seen in the shallows.


Prices for snorkeling in Zanzibar vary slightly depending on the tour you choose, whether it is a full day or half day, whether it is a private tour, and how many different stops it makes, but you can anticipate paying between $60 and $150.

 Typically, this includes transportation to and from your hotel, boat and marine park fees, equipment rental, a knowledgeable guide, and frequently lunch, snacks, and beverages. Before making a reservation, you should check each tour to see exactly what is included.


Zanzibar’s water typically maintains a fairly pleasant temperature. Particularly in contrast to the UK. The best time to go snorkeling is typically during the dry season, when the water is generally calmer and more visible.

Because the water is generally warm, you might not need a rash vest or light wet suit, but we still advise you to wear one that your tour operator will provide.  Both to avoid jellyfish stings and to protect against the sun.

Additionally, you should wear layers that are warm in case the wind picks up during the boat ride.


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about swimming with the underwater life in Zanzibar.

 Is Zanzibar Good for Snorkeling?     

Zanzibar’s vibrant marine life can be explored in a unique way by snorkeling. The archipelago’s surroundings in the Indian Ocean are teeming with vibrant coral and tropical fish, making it the ideal location for anyone wanting to get close to the area’s natural beauty.

You can easily spend hours at your leisure snorkeling in the warm, clear waters because the conditions are perfect for that. Additionally, knowledgeable experts provide guided tours of the region’s top locations, enabling even first-timers to snorkel to get a feel for the water and enjoy all that Zanzibar has to offer underwater.

 Without a doubt, snorkeling in Zanzibar is an unforgettable experience, whether you decide to go alone or take a tour. On a multi-day tour of Zanzibar, you can also go snorkeling.

Can you snorkel off the beach in Zanzibar?

There are some locations where you can see underwater life without taking a tour, even though snorkeling tends not to be quite as impressive right off the beach. Go to Nungwi Beach, where you can find shallow water with patches of coral and rock where fish like to hang out.

 From any beach you visit, snorkeling is worthwhile to try. There aren’t as many fish to be found if the bottom is all sand, but if you can find some patches of rock, coral, or weed, your chances improve.

Simply keep an eye out for fast boats and kite surfers, and if you’re unsure, bring a high-visibility float to make yourself more noticeable above the water. Having said that, if you are staying in Zanzibar for four days or more, we strongly advise taking a tour of one of the reefs.

Are there coral reefs in Zanzibar?

Many people are unaware that Zanzibar also has stunning coral reefs, despite the fact that the island is well-known for its breathtaking beaches and vibrant culture.

 The fascinating creatures that make up this particular ecosystem can keep one entertained for hours while snorkeling or scuba diving near these reefs. Zanzibar’s coral reef system is truly breathtaking with its clear waters, white sand seafloors, and dense network of hard and soft corals.

 What’s best?   Because of years of successful conservation efforts, its coastal coral reefs are still largely unaltered. If you’re thinking about going to Zanzibar soon, be sure to allow yourself enough time to explore these magnificent corals and appreciate their size and beauty.

What to expect during Snorkeling in Zanzibar?

An once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, snorkeling in Zanzibar gives you plenty of chances to see the colorful and diverse marine life that lives off its coast. The pristine, warm waters around Zanzibar are home to a wide variety of fascinating species, from brightly colored clownfish and sea stars to graceful yellow seahorses and spotted eagle rays.


Even though Zanzibar has some fantastic snorkeling locations, these tours are the best. Every location has something special to offer that will make your trip memorable. So put on your wet suit, grab your goggles, and explore Zanzibar‘s incredible underwater world!