If you’ve never heard of Zanzibar, you aren’t alone. Though it’s an island paradise that’s carefree and features the scents of cinnamon and vanilla, most people haven’t heard of it. In Zanzibar, you will experience the Indian Ocean in a new and different way.
This place is famous for its idyllic beaches and spicy, tangy food, but you can’t visit the area without considering the top spots for Zanzibar diving.
Understanding the Essentials
The water temperature, on average, is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. Plus, visibility can be as far away as 60 meters or as few as 20. Regardless, this makes for excellent diving throughout the year.
Zanzibar is well-known for having a rainy season, which happens between March and May, as well as November and December. The best months to go diving in Zanzibar include March, February, August, and July. However, the high season runs from July to September, as well as December through January.
When to See Specific Marine Life
Many times, divers will have a particular interest, so it is best to go when those animals are migrating. This allows you the best chance to see what you want. These can include:
- Manta rays: December through April
- Eagle rays: June through March
- Hammerhead sharks: November through February
- Blacktip reef sharks: June through March
- Seahorses: June through March
- Whale sharks (only on Mafia Island): October through February
- Whitetip reef sharks, hawksbill turtles, and dolphins: Any time of the year
- Humpback whales: July through October
Zanzibar Diving Sites
Unguja Island in Zanzibar
Most people call it Zanzibar Island, but the official name is Unguja Island. It’s one of the largest in the archipelago. It’s home to the heart and soul of Zanzibar, Stone Town.
You’ll find that it has a variety of tiny islands that will all make excellent dive sites. We know that you want to learn more about each of the sites, so we have included a few options. Visibility around the island is often between 20 and 60 meters.
- Leven Bank
With an abundance of marine life and a spectacular underwater mountain feature, Leven Bank is a highly popular dive site in Zanzibar. It’s in the open ocean with a drop of up to 55 meters and significantly strong currents, so it is ideal for more advanced divers.
Of course, you’ll see many corals, but you’ll also experience whitetip reef sharks, rays, and dolphins. Rainbow runners, barracudas, guitarfish, and groupers are also plentiful.
- Hunga and Nankivell Reefs
These are two dive sites set side by side in the ocean. Nankivell has a depth of 12 meters, with Hunga having 16 meters.
Both of these options are ideal for novices. The magical underwater landscape is made up of bommies, coral formations, and more.
Some of the animals you might see include dolphins, reef sharks, snappers, and barracudas. You may also see silver sweetlips, parrotfish, lobsters, and surgeonfish.
- Boribu Reef
This reef features pristine waters and strange columna corals. It also has kaleidoscope corals by the billions, massive barrel sponges, and Gorgonian sea fans. Thus, it is one of the most popular diving sites in Zanzibar.
You’ll find that it goes to about 30 meters deep, making it ideal for more experienced divers. The marine inhabitants at this site can include moral eels, lobsters, Bluefin tuna, and barracudas.
Dive sites around the Unguja Island can also include Turtle Gap, Kendwa Reef, Chakatuni, and Shane’s Reef. If you’re interested in wreck sites around the Stone Town, options include the Pegasus Wreck, Great Northern Wreck, and Bahari Wreck.
- Mnemba Island
If you’d like to go a little further away from Unguja Island, 4.5 kilometers will take you to Mnemba Island, which is a private island. Beautiful coral reefs surround it as part of a marine reserve, so it has a variety of dive sites available.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced scuba diver, you’ll find incredible underwater excursions to meet your needs. Generally, visibility around the area is, on average, between 10 and 30 meters.
Wattabomi is arguably one of the best dive sites in the region. The gentle slope from six to 30 meters makes it ideal for any level. You can also choose from the reef and drift dives.
The marine creatures you’re likely to encounter include plate corals and coral bommies, as well as angelfish and black snappers. You’re also likely to see bottlenose dolphins, flounders, octopuses, and frogfish.
If you’re looking for a drift, reef, and wall, Kichwani is ideal. It goes from two meters deep up to 30 meters, so it works well for snorkelers, beginners, and experienced divers. You can choose to drift with the current or plunge deeper into the water to search for whitetip reef sharks.
Marine creatures you might encounter can include torpedo rays, moray eels, crocodile fish, and scorpionfish. You may also see trumpetfish, leaf fish, goatfish, and snappers.
- Big Wall
If you’re an experienced diver, you may want to try your hand at Big Wall. It features depths between 14 and 70 meters deep with strong currents. You’ll find a smooth descent along its vertical wall, which reveals mysterious caves and glorious overhangs.
The caves are adorned with sponges, as well as soft and hard corals. You may also see larger fish the deeper you go. Options can include dolphin fish, giant green turtles, and hammerhead sharks.
- Mnemba Island
Those who want a scenic dive site around the Mnemba Atoll will like the Aquarium. It features a sloping coral wall that is between 10 and 24 meters deep. It’s ideal for snorkelers and beginner divers.
You’ll see many remarkable marine creatures. However, you won’t be able to take your eyes away from the hard lettuce corals, which are the backdrop.
Animals you might encounter can include goatfish, green turtles, snappers, and rays. You may also see Moorish idols, lobsters, fusiliers, and silver sweetlips.
Dive sites around the Mnemba Island can also include Sand Banks, Turtle Reef, Small Wall, and West Banks. It’s also possible to visit the West Gardens, and Jack Fish Spot.
Though there are many other options available for Zanzibar diving, most people prefer the locations we discussed. With so many dive sites, you may not need to go anywhere else.