Zanzibar consists of over 50 islands which vary from tiny outcrops to the larger, more populated islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The beaches in Zanzibar are breath taking : powdery white sand, shaded by palm trees. The sea is shallow, but venture further out into the sparkling, turquoise water and you'll find coral reefs for great snorkelling and diving.
Though the Zanzibar is popular as a post safari relaxation point, it can be a great stand alone vacation. The island offers an exceptional diversity of accommodation, from simple beach lodges and small boutique hotels to all-inclusive beach resorts and even the odd luxury hotel.
You can visit Zanzibar any time of the year.
On a Zanzibar holiday you can enjoy the sun, the sea with its crystal clear waters and powdery white sand that trickles through the toes
Zanzibar offers some excellent snorkelling, and world-class diving
In Zanzibar the major dive areas are:
- Mnemba Island : offers a great dive destination for those that are strating out as this small atoll has a shallow wall dive down to around 18 meters with a sandy bottom. The coral cover here is very acceptable and, with some of the island's best garden reefs, it is also possible to combine with an afternoon of snorkelling easily enough.
- Kizimkazi Reef : arguably the only really good dive location on the island is right down in the south, right next to Unguja Lodge. This area is part of an inner reef system that runs out to the barrier reef which, as you are south facing, is not as deep or as complete as along the southern edges of the island. While the property doesn't really have any beach to speak of, this is certainly a good contender for those that would like Zanzibar and some diving.
- Off Stone Town - another interesting area to dive is off the western side of the island. While not reef diving as such, this inner channel, between Zanzibar and the mainland, has plenty of sunken wrecks to go and have a look at. As this is channel diving, there is slightly more current to contend with.
Mafia Island Marine Park
This small and sleepy island to the south of Zanzibar has long been held as one of the two locations that really does offer good diving and would provide a keen and experienced diver plenty to do over the course of a week.
The first of Tanzania's official marine protection zones, created in 1996, Mafia Island Marine Park is starting to show signs that it is benefitting from the respite from the dynamite fishing that is commonplace amongst local fishermen. As such, it is now the best area for diving on the island and offers a whole range of different dives from cave diving, wall diving, bouldering and drifts.
As the reef for most of the first dives is the outer barrier, Mafia is not the ideal spot for those that are keen on snorkelling.