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By Lauren 10 January 2020

Best 5 Diving Sites in Zanzibar

The depths of the Indian Ocean hide some of the world’s most unique creatures; it's a paradisiacal place for keen divers. Whether you’re on your 1000th dive or don’t know your fins from your mask, there is something for everyone in Zanzibar.

You’ve just had the most incredible few days on safari. Perhaps you’ve descended the slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater, chased the Great Migration in the Serengeti, or experienced the authenticity and off-the-beaten-track nature of the other spectacular pockets of Tanzania and Kenya. And now the time has come to hit the beach for a few days of rest and relaxation – or so you think….

Yes, it’s fair to say that staying on Zanzibar is an amazing way to get over the early mornings that come with safari – and if lying on the beach with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other is your idea of heaven then this is the place for you. However, if you’re the type of traveller who craves continuing the adventure, having fallen in love with the reward of searching out wildlife, Zanzibar Archipelago has so much to offer you too.

Below we share the best diving spots in Zanzibar!

1. South coast of Zanzibar

Nestled along the south-west tip of the island is a little spot called Kizimkazi, which is well known for its dolphin population. The area also offers good chances of spotting small reef sharks, and if you are really really lucky you might spot the odd manta ray too. As dive sites go, the spots in this area are predominantly wall dives, with some pretty flat and coral-filled shallow spots as well. There are no protected lagoon areas here, so you can find yourself in some ‘fun’ currents – as such, it’s not necessarily the best place for those who are a little nervous or very inexperienced.


As for accommodation, Unguja Lodge is a great little property down here, with its own dive centre and remote sites that no one else explores.

5 activities diving 3

2. South east coast of Zanzibar

This is a stretch of coastline that’s home to villages such as Jambiani, Paje, Bwejuu, and Dongwe, all offering some beautiful dive spots. Dotted up the coast here you’ll find some beautifully coloured lagoons, typically yielding gentle and calm conditions that are perfect for those just starting out. With depths from 12 metres down to around 19 metres, these spots are enjoyable regardless of your qualification level – the night diving in these little havens is absolutely phenomenal!

090 DIVE 1


Here you can expect sea horses, harlequin shrimps, snake eels, and octopus, as well as the weird and wonderful Indian Ocean walkman.

About a kilometre from shore, you cross through the ‘mlango’ (Swahili for door) and onto the outer reef. Out here, the conditions can become ‘fun’ and, depending on the season, fairly wild. The area is home to some deep wall dives and whipping currents, so it’s ideal for those seeking a bit more of an adrenalin-fuelled adventure. With calm weather, there are a few sites here that are just fine for those who are less experienced, but for the most part you would want to have your Advanced Open Water qualification behind you.

3. Mafia Island

Mafia Pole Pole

Mafia Island is a relaxed and remote little place whose overall economy is driven by conservation efforts and the tourism this attracts. (For all intents and purposes, it’s a protected marine reserve.)

Mafia’s Marine Park was the first of its kind in Tanzania, and contains some of the most thriving coral reefs and stunning sea creatures imaginable. Not only that, you are pretty much guaranteed sightings of whale sharks from October to February. The area is a real hit with any level of diver.


There isn’t the hugest pot to pick from when it comes to the properties here, but one of our favourites is Pole Pole, a smashing little boutique lodge well known for its high standards of service.

4. Pemba Island

Pemba is an island well worth considering – the marine life here may be incomparable to the likes of Mafia Island, for example, but the underwater topography is among the most beautiful I’ve come across. With steep and deep wall dives, absolutely epic drop-offs, and some gorgeous coral gardens along with some hectic currents, this is an area that typically appeals to those with a little more experience.


Similarly to Mafia Island, you are somewhat limited with regard to your property choices. Constance Aiyana is the newest property on the island, and we’re expecting really great things from it. Fundu Lagoon is worthy of a mention too. Both these properties have their own in-house dive sites.

Misali Cabbage Corals

5. Mnemba Atoll

When discussing diving around Zanzibar, you simply have to consider the Mnemba Atoll. Being the only protected marine reserve on the island (with no fish zones), the abundance of life here is incredible.



It’s also an excellent area for dolphin, turtles, and reef sharks – there’s a reason this area is considered the island’s best. The dive sites here vary from shallow coral gardens to deep wall dives, so there’s something to suit any level.


Mnemba Island is the most exclusive lodge on the island, offering a simple approach to luxury – a true Robinson Crusoe kind of experience. Its fabulous reputation comes with a rather hefty price tag, though, so if you’re looking to spend less then Sunshine Marine Lodge offers brilliant value and has teamed up with a first-rate company called Dive Point. It’s worth knowing that many of the dive sites along the south-east coast will organise day trips to Mnemba Atoll upon request.

Please note: Beginner divers without Open Water certificates can dive up to 12 metres. If you would like to dive deeper, an Open Water certificate is a minimal requirement but the practical element can be completed in a day. If you would like more information on diving in Zanzibar feel free to call us on 020 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected].

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