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Rift Safari
Travelling along the Rift Valley: Diving Zanzibar
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WHERE AND WHEN:

In this section of our website we describe 6 areas where a series of diving sites has been identified.
The area of Matemwe [northwest coast] is generally considered the best diving place in Zanzibar however any consideration need to be contextualized taking into account the experience of divers, winds, travel time, specific interests ... after reading the below you should be able to know which area fits best for you.

Winds and best months to dive:
Best diving months go from October to March.
The arrival of Kuzi, usually in April, brings an increase of rainfall and for about two months it can rain every day even if in between rains it is often sunny and temperatures are very pleasant. Starting from June this wind begins to become rather strong and until about mid of August it blows at a speed ranging from 11 to 22 knots with some rare days when it can reach 25+ knots which obviously influences visibility negatively and creates marine drifts above all in the southern and eastern dive sites. From September this wind fades more and more and October is probably the best month to dive in Zanzibar with a particularly calm sea.
Between November and December until March the monsoon swings from south - southeast to north - northeast always blowing parallel to the east coast [Kaskazi]. This is a much more gentle wind but still potentially able to create less ideal conditions for divers. The very best months for diving when Kazkazi wind is blowing are January and February.

Marine migrations:
These concern only those divers who have got specific interests [whale sharks, marine turtles, whales].
Approximately we could say that the best months to encounter whales are August and September;
Five species of marine turtles occur in Tanzania’s waters. These include green, hawksbill, loggerhead, olive ridley and leatherback. Only two species [green and hawksbill] nest while little is known about the other three species [loggerhead, olive ridley and leatherback] however tag returns and accidental catches by local fishermen seems to demonstrate that they feed in Tanzania en route to nesting sites in Tongaland and Natal in South Africa.
The green turtle is the most common and widespread species in Tanzania. While low density nesting has been reported along the mainland coast from Tanga in the north to Mtwara in the south, the most concentrated numbers of nests appear to be on the offshore islands of Zanzibar, Mafia and particularly Juani Island and possibly the Songo Songo archipelago. The main nesting season is between February and July. Hatching occurs approx. 55 days after. There is evidence that some green turtles are resident while others are migratory moving to and from nesting and feeding grounds in Kenya, Seychelles, Comoros, Mayotte and South Africa.
Hawksbills are also widely distributed but are less abundant. The most important nesting sites in Tanzania are Misali Island, off Pemba, and Mafia Island. The main nesting season is during the northeast monsoon between December and April. Although no animals bearing tags from other countries in the region have been recorded, the hawksbill is a migratory species so it is probable that Tanzania harbours both residents and migrants. For more information link to SeaSense.
For whale sharks the best period seems to go from November to March, with February and March probably near the top of the table. However these are extremely difficult forecasts.

Dive traffic:
In high season, diving sites of Matemwe and Nungwi tend to be particularly busy.
Matemwe because it is considered the best location given its proximity to the area of Mnemba.
Nungwi because it becomes the obvious choice when all facilities in Matemwe are fully booked [Nungwi / Matemwe = about 15 minutes drive] and because over the past 10 years this area of ​​the island has undergone the highest tourism development.
Kizimkazi, Fumba, Paje, Bwejuu and Jambiani are less explored areas and definitely less busy.
In our opinion one should stay in two different areas combining the northern coast with the south-western one or alternatively with Stone Town.

Divers experience:
More experienced and demanding divers rarely take into account just one area and they normally prefer to split their stay not only among different areas of the same island but also between more islands giving preference to the more remote and less busy areas.
Experienced divers therefore first choose the sites to explore and after that they look for an hotel to stay at.
Beginners and those who are only relatively interest in diving will rather follow other parameters: beginners tend to choose an hotel hosting a high-quality diving centre; non serious divers usually choose the hotel first and then look for diving possibilities in the same area.

Costs: following the below links you will access the diving centres web site, find their updated price list and last offers.

Emergencies:
A decompression chamber is located at Matemwe on the northeastern coast of the island.

AREAS, SITES AND DIVING CENTRES:

1. MNEMBA AREA:
It is considered the best diving area of the whole island and offers a variety of diving sites suitable both for beginners and experienced divers.
Thanks to the circular shape of the island there are sites sheltered from drifts, with good visibility all year round often in excess of 20 m. This area deserve at least 2 or 3 days.

The most popular and recommended diving centre here is One Ocean which operates with 3 basis:
Matemwe Beach Village base [for guests staying at Matemwe Beach Village, Waikiki, Nyota Beach Bungalows, Zanzibar Retreat Hotel];
Matemwe Bungalows base [for guests staying at Matemwe Bungalows, Matemwe Retreat, Matemwe Beach House, Che Che Vule, Mchanga Beach Lodge, Azanzi Beach Hotel, Kasha Boutique Hotel];
Stone Town base to dive off the coast of Stone Town [it serves all hotels in town].
The centre has two boats leaving daily at the same time, a Dhow and a support tender which allows to send in water groups with no more than 4 divers per guide. The maximum number of divers per boat is 12 people with four staff members [2 instructors and dive masters 2]. Logistically speaking it is advisable to stay in the facility housing the diving centre.

Another experienced operator specialized as well in deep-sea fishing is Zanzibar Watersports based at Ocean Paradise but serving also guests staying at Matemwe Bungalows, Matemwe Lodge, Matemwe Retreat, Azanzi Beach Hotel, Nyota Beach Bungalow, Kasha Lodge, Mchanga Beach Hotel.

Diving Sites nearby Mnemba island
Diving sites in Mnemba

Mnemba Big Wall: depth 25-55 m. [recommended]
Located on the eastern side of the island, this is an advanced dive consisting of an amazing vertical wall dropping from about 25 to 55 meters. This site does not offer many corals, but some divers like deep dives with strong currents in hopes of seeing larger pelagics and possibly sharks. Drifting down you should encounter rainbow runners, blue-fin trevallies, common dolphin fish, lobsters, moray eels and green turtles and in deeper waters reef shark, tuna, trevally are often seen. Occasionally manta and eagle rays, hammerheads and whalesharks might be seen in the blue waters beyond.
Only for expert divers at slack tide due to strong drifts.

Jackfish spot: depth 10-50 m.
Located on the eastern side of the island this site consists of a vertical wall dropping from 10 to 50 m. Along the wall there are several small caves in which spiny lobsters and various reef fish can often be found. There's also a good deal of pelagic fish with sightings of eagle rays, mobulas, napoleon wrasses, batfish, barracudas, reef sharks, jackfish, rainbow runners and stingrays.
The site is suitable both for beginners and experienced divers provided that weather conditions are mild.

Indian gate: depth 10-30 m.
Located on the northern side of the island this site consists of a gentle slope dropping to about 30 m with beautiful coral gardens and a great variety of tropical fish and nudibranchs.
Suitable both for beginners and experienced divers provided that weather conditions are mild.

Westbank:depth 15-30 m.
Located on the western side of the island this site is well known for the extremely large coral formations that can reach up to 15 m. height and for the vast array of colourful tropical fish. Reef sharks, spade fish, rainbow runners and stingrays can often be seen in the blue waters beyond.
Only for expert divers and with mild weather conditions.

West gardens: depth 5-12 m.
Located on the western side of the island this site consists of interesting coral gardens offering a good variety of tropical fish. A good spot for snorkelers and novice divers.

Acquarium: depth 8–25 m.
This site is located on the western side of the island and there is usually a slight current. Patches of sandy bottom occur quite close to the reef with surgeon fish, moorish idols, parrotfish, groupers, large hawksbill and green turtles amongst the common sightings, along with the more occasional white-tip reef sharks.

Watabomi: depth 7-25 m. [recommended]
Located on the southwest side of the island this site consists of a gentle slope starting at about 7 m. at Eel City. Scorpion fish, stone fish, angelfish, moorish idols, moray eels, anthias are commonly seen along with green and hawksbill turtles which come to rest here on top of the plate corals. but also. Striped dolphins can be seen for most of the years. Bottlenose, spinner and common dolphins also occur in the clear waters around.
Suitable for divers of all levels.

Kichwani: depth 2-45 m. [recommended]
Set on the southern side of the island this site offers a splendid wall of mushroom, honeycomb, brain and staghom corals starting at about 2 m. before a steep drop at about 30 m. Gently drifting down you will encounter shoals of colourful tropical fish as well as frogfish, leaf fish, scorpion fish, porcupine fish, lobsters, mantis shrimp, moray eels, nudibranchs and occasionally dolphins passing by overhead. Below 30 meters, if lucky, you might encounter manta rays, stingrays and reef sharks. Suitable both for beginners and experienced divers

Small wall: set on the southern side of the island. Only for experienced divers.

Mnemba Sandbanks: depth 6-20 m.
This site is set on the southeastern side of the island. Along with a vast array of colourful tropical fish one could expect to occasionally sight here manta rays, stingrays, sea horses and frog fish. Suitable for divers with some experience.

Mnemba coral garden: depth 6-15 m.
Set on the southeastern side of the island this site offers a great variety of soft corals, fan corals, colourful sponges and a wide variety of colourful tropical fish. green turtles are occasionally sighted.
The site is suitable for novice but interesting as well for experienced divers thanks to the great variety of marine life.

Turtle reef: max depth 30 m.
This site is set on the eastern side of the island. It is suitable for divers of all levels. Lots of reef fish and occasionally turtles.

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2. NUNGWI and KENDWA AREAS:
If you wish to stay in a non tidal beach or if you are looking for a little more lively situation with some night life then you will probably be more attracted by this side of the island. Although not up to Mnemba here as well there are several dive sites suitable both for novice and experienced divers. From here you can also easily reach Mnemba by boat [about 30 to 40 minutes] or Matemwe by car [15 km approx 15 min].

Among the most popular and recommended diving centre we would suggest you:
Zanzibar Watersports specialized as well in deep-sea fishing. This centre has got a base at Kendwa Rocks but can serve guests of all facilities on Kendwa beach [Sunset Bungalows, Kilindi, Gemma dell'Est ...]. Another base is set at Ras Nungwi serving guests staying here at Essque Zalu as well as all other facilities on this stretch of coast.
Scuba doo is another good operator based at kendwa which we are happy to recommend you and it is based on the pontoon of Gemma dell'Est.

Finally comes East Africa Dive Centre based at Z-Hotel and serving guests staying in Nungwi west.

Diving sites at Kendwa and Nungwi
Diving sites in Kendwa and Nungwi

Haunted Wall: depth 2-15 m. [recommended]
Set on the western side of Tumbatu island just in front of Kendwa this site consists of a beautiful small wall rich in soft corals sheltering nudibranchs, leaf fish and bat fish. One could then continue diving along the main wall which hosts a large variety of coral formations sheltering a mass of colourful reef fish such as moorish idols, angelfish, butterfly fish ... along with also rays and eels. Green turtles are often sighted as well.
Suitable for divers of all levels.

Mwana Wa Mwana: depth 2–12 m. [recommended]
Set on the western side of Tumbatu this lovely dive site consists of a gradual sloping reef from 5 to 12 metres housing an array of pristine soft and hard coral bommies sheltering a mass of colourful tropical fish. Glass fish and frog fish are often seen here along with green turtles. Waters are usually calm and currents are gentle.

Nankivell: depth 12–18 m.
Set off the northwest coast this site consists of a large area of giant and weird plate corals sheltering a great variety of colourful reef fish, napoleon wrasse, giant remoras, groupers and occasionally small reef shark. Because of currents it can only be dived on specific tides.

Hunga: depth 12–45 m. [recommended]
Set off the northwest coast this one is considered of the best dive sites in Zanzibar with a large seawall made up of a series of interconnected bommies consisting of hard and soft corals, which starts around 12m and falls away to around 18m, with the drop continuing on down into the depths. Whereas many of the reefs are fringing reefs around the islands, Hunga is a patch reef four nautical miles out to open sea. Often seen are big shoals of barracuda, tuna and snappers. You can also expect to see parrot fish, unicorn fish, crocodile fish, schools of fusiliers, many different species of flatworms and nudibranchs and brightly coloured coral grouper. It is also a passing point for dolphins. A dive site suitable for beginners and ideal for underwater photography.

Kendwa Reef: depth 5–10 m.
This coral reef offers several dive sites which are ideal for beginners or qualified divers interested in a long shallow dive. Being located about 800 metres off shore, running parallel to it, it can be reached by boat in a couple of minutes. Enthusiastic snorkelers may also choose to swim to the reef but before of doing that please ask at the dive centre all important safety tips and pointers.
You will see many small reef fish, beautiful anenomes and juvenile fish hiding in the coral garden. There has been numerous sightings of sea turtles as well. Kendwa Gardens is a specific drop on this reef offering a shallow dive with many nudibranchs, spanish dancers, pipe fish and occasionally marbled electric rays. This is an ideal site for night dives as well.

Renco Bommi: depth 7–14 m.
Situated just offshore a short distance in front of the jetty at La Gemma Dell'Est the site consists of a huge coral bommi rising out of the sand. Rare staghorn coral grows in this area and frequent visitors include squid, cuttlefish and a variety of rays. Keep your eyes open for frog fish, seahorses and ornate and seagrass ghost pipefish! This spot is a favourite for night dives and for novice divers.

Nungwi House Reef: depth 8-14 m.
Also located just offshore from west Nungwi, this is a great warm-up reef for novices and rusty masks. Fan coral, soft coral and mushroom leather coral play host to octopus, squid, several varieties of lion fish, moray and snake eels, bat fish, stingrays, large groupers, ramora and the occasional nudibranch.

Shanes [or Shemzi] Reef: depth 12–16 m. [recommended]
Set on the northwestern side of the Nungwi reef this is a magical dive full of weird, wonderful and highly venomous creatures well compensating the fact the reef here is not as big and beautiful as many of the others. Every scorpion fish in Helmut Debelius' Indian Ocean Reef Guide has been spotted on this one reef, plenty leaf fish and even the bizarre Indian Ocean walkman [Inimicus didactylus]. Shemzi is also the most likely place to find the beautiful thorny seahorses as well as ghost pipe fish, frog fish, ribbon eels and loads of nudibranchs, stingrays and octopus.
The depth i ranges from 12 m - 25m at high tide. The majority of the corals can be found between 12 and 15 m. and it is a treasure hunting place for underwater photography. Being potentially exposed to currents this reef is only suitable for more experienced divers.

Chakatuni: depth 12–18 m.
A long stretching coral formation situated at the northwestern tip of the Nungwi reef at a depth of about 18 m. with many reef fish and larger pelagics, sometimes a turtle and some great soft and hard corals.
Ideal for beginners and coral fans. Being quite exposed to currents and is best dived on a slack tide.

Leven Bank: depth 14–50 m. [recommended]
Situated out in the deep blue waters of Pemba channel Leven bank is is an undersea mountain dropping to 160 m. An exciting deep dive for the more experienced diver [Advanced Open Water required] with a large variety of reef fish as well as big game fish like tuna or sailfish. Pelagic fish like Barracuda, King fish, Travelly, Rainbow runner, big Reef Rays, Napoleon fish, Moray eels and occasionally Reef shark and Hammerheads. With its steep wall Leven Bank offers some good drift diving.

Nungwi Coral Garden: depth 5–12 m.
Situated on the northern tip of the island, within the barrier reef, this site can be reached with an easy swim from the shore. You can see beautiful coral and many of the reef fish of the Indian Ocean and juvenile fish species. Suitable for night dives.

Ametatu: depth 6-12 m.
Set outside the northeastern tip of the Nungwi reef, this site consists of a several small coral bommies hosting a wide variety of marine life of all sizes and colours. Being quite exposed to currents and is best dived on a slack tide.

Mbwanagawa: depth 10-20 m.
Set at Nungwi northeast, just outside the barrier reef, this site consists of huge hard coral formation surrounded by stunning soft coral. Home to many reef fish, Rays, Scorpion Leaf fish, Turtles, Lobster, Eels and Guitar fish to name a few. The site is well known for the the frequency with which green turtles are found.

Haji: depth 10-18 m.
A sloping reef running parallel to the north east coast from 10m to 18m. with an impressive array of hard coral formations which attract an abundance of marine life and sports a vast array of hard coral formations. There are numerous crocodile fish and nudibranchs. Often dived in conjunction with Kichafi.

Kichafi: depth 10-18 m.
A sloping reef running parallel to the north east coast from 10m to 18m. this dive visits a particularly healthy section of reef with large expanses of plate corals in particular. A large sandy area to one side is an excellent spot for novice training. Often dived in conjunction with Haji.

Misoli: depth 12-18 m.
A large coral island set off the northeastern coast in direction of Mnemba. An ideal dive site for beginners with a maximum depth of 18 m. A reef of mushroom coral with big starfish, reef fish, moray eels, nudibranchs and some big turtles.

Leons Wall: depth 18-40 m.
Also well down the northeastern coast in direction of Mnemba, this is a dive site for the more experienced diver at a depth up to 40m. There is a range of soft corals and encrusted sponges where lion fish, schools of snappers and elusive leaf fish can be found. Sometimes you can see dolphins during your dive and even Manta and Eagle Rays, very often Turtles.

Mushroom: depth 12-14 m.
Another dive well down towards Mnemba. The site consists of three large bommies and its ideal for novice divers. Brightly coloured fish are common, with angelfish, butterfly fish, schools of yellow snapper and sweetlips. Plenty of nudibranchs too.

Kombe: depth 6-18 mt.
Situated well down the eastern side of the island, almost opposite Mnemba island, this site has channels which are ideal for stingrays and corals which provide ideal coverage for juvenile reef fish, as well as lion and scorpion fish.


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3. KIZIMKAZI
Relatively unknown until a few years ago if not for the opportunity to swim with dolphins in open waters, the southwestern coast of Zanzibar has started to gain attention in recent years. This area is part of the protected Menai Bay Marine Conservation Area and includes some of the best dive sites on Zanzibar with pristine coral gardens as well as good opportunities to sight large pelagic species such as reef sharks, rays, dolphins, whales, hammerheads, whalesharks and groupers. Keen divers are suggested to split their stay on the island first exploring the north en sites and then these southern ones.

Diving centres:
The up market Unguja Lodge has its own diving centre: Unguja Divers. For further info you can also contact Nick, the dive instructor, directly from his website Nickdivesite

Paje Dive centre has been relocated at Kizimkazi and serves all the little resort of the area among which we we point Karamba a mid range facility far more economical than the aforementioned Unguja Lodge.

Diving sites at Kizimkazi, Zanzibar
Diving sites at Kizimkazi

Kizidi Reef: depth 3-15 m.
The site is located 10 minutes from Unguja Lodge by boat. It is a mini wall with the top at only three to four meters deep and sloping down to the sandy bottom at twelve to fifteen meters and gently continuing to slope away. The reef has an abundance of soft corals, hard corals, interesting mommies, areas of sea grass and lots and lots of fish; big emperors, potato groupers, angel fish, black spot sweet lips, blue spotted rays, an occasional turtle, and for the observant you may find pipefish, leaf fish, nudibranchs including the amazing spanish dancer and others.
Excellent for novice divers and snorkelers.

White Reef [Mwamba Mweupe]: depth 10-14 m.
This is a coral plateau at ten to fourteen meters. It is located about 30 minute by boat from Unguja Lodge. At this site you will find an abundance of black spotted sweet lips, one spot snapper, unicorn fish and a variety of angelfish.
Since there can be a bit of current when the tide is running this dive is suitable only for experienced divers.

Angel Garden: depth 12 m.
This site is name after the variety and size of angelfish found here: semicircular, african, royal and goldbar angelfish all abound along with schools of fusiliers, sweet lips and occasional jacks. There are large coral outcropping from the bottom at only 12 meters which seem to attract the massive number of fish. You will almost always find a slight of current running at this site.

Tindiji Reef: depth 5-12 m.
This shallow reef offers a beautiful coral garden at a depth of four to six meters then sloping away to the sandy bottom at ten to twelve meters. As you might expect the healthy hard corals attracts a variety of tropical fish such as moorish idol, butterfly fish, trumpet fish, Angelfish to name a few. Occasionally you might also encounter pipe fish, electric rays, blue spotted rays, ribbon eels, cleaner shrimp, moray eels or even a giant frog fish.
This is an ideal dive for novice divers and a good site for snorkelers.

Dolphin Wall: depth 18-28 m.
The top of this wall starts at 18 to 16 meters and goes down to 25 to 28 meters. Dolphins are sighted only occasionally along with sailfish while you should be able to encounter big rays, ribbon eels, groupers and napoleon wrasse. Schools of barracuda and jacks are often passing out in the blue.

Groupers Grotto: depth 8-35 m.
This site consists of a sloping wall to depths around 35 meters where the sandy bottom gently continues to slope away and it is named after the presence of massive groupers. At the top of the slope when a current is running there can be masses of fishes schooling and feeding. Black tip reefs shark are often seen cruising by. This is a good site for a drift dive.

One Palm Reef or Mnasi Moja: depth 12-35 m.
This is a sloping wall starting at about 12 m. and dropping down to 35 m. where the sandy bottom continues to gently slope away. Many grouper are found here along with napoleon wrasse. Occasionally also green turtles. When the current is running this can be a fast ride drift dive.

Nicki Reef: depth 4-12 m.
This healthy, shallow reef located close to Unguja lodge with its very many different kinds of coral, butterfly fish, parrot fish, moorish idol is a great site for inexperienced divers and a very good snorkel spot. Chance of seeing closely stingray, lion fish, moray eels, red snapper and other big species are also quite high.

Kungui: depth 14-30 m. [recommended]
This dive site is located on the southern tip of Zanzibar about 40 minutes by boat from Unguja lodge. It consists of a beautiful coral garden starting at 14 m gently sloping to 20 m where it abruptly drop down to 30 m. It offers a great variety of marine life: scorpion fish and stingray, octopus, moray eel hiding among corals and king fish napoleon wrasse, barracuda, fusiliers, jacks out in the blue.
Whilst the reef is suitable for less experienced divers, the deep wall that follows is for experienced only. It starts at 35m and sinks out of sight, with very large groupers, big schools of barracudas and huge turtles often present.

Abbas Reef [small wall]: depth 6-20 m.
Located close to Unguja lodge Abbas reef is great for a quick morning dive an afternoon one. This reef is split up in many parts and the small wall is no doubt the most spectacular one: a 6 - 20 m drop off teaming with life, lion fish, nudibranch, electric stingrays, leaf fish, resident red snapper school and cobia to name a few.

Hammerhead: depth 16-80 m. [recommended]
This is an undersea mountain rising from about 80 to 16 m, located about 1,5 hours away by speed boat from Unguja Lodge. This site is special for the big fish and you are likely to encounter white tip sharks, black tips sharks, grey reef sharks, tiger shark and hammer head sharks but there are as well king fish, yellow fin tuna, great barracuda, grouper, rainbow runner, sail fish, huge honeycomb moray
eel, eagle ray. Due to massive down currents running this dive is suitable only for very experienced deep divers
Ask for this dive site in advance as it takes a while to organize. Only open from mid-October until mid-March.

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4. FUMBA
Like Kizimkazi also the marine protected area surrounding the peninsula of Fumba offers some interesting diving sites with pristine coral reef, presence of large pelagic species and very few divers.

Since beaches are are not much attractive due to the coral floor lagoon and mangroves there's only one lodge Fumba Beach Lodge which diving centre has picked out the following dive sites:

Diving sites at Fumba, Zanzibar
Diving sites at Fumba

Ukombe Reef [Amazon]: depth 10-17 m.
This reef consists of 5 nautical miles of fringing reef and coral outcrops. Pristine formations including plate, table and staghorn corals dominate the shallower depths making it a haven for numerous tropical fish. The shallow depths along this reef make it a fantastic dive for beginners and all levels of diver. Those wanting to try underwater photography will love this site for its beautiful corals.
Amazon site is part of Ukombe reef: a drift dive along a beautiful sloping reef dotted with smaller coral outcrops. Here you can view amazing whip corals up to 2 metres in length, christmas tree bushes teeming with damsel fish, lion fish, pipe fish, anemone, geometric and marbled moray eels and the occasional giant lobster. The dive site is famous for its population of blue spotted stingrays which can be seen on every single dive hiding under crevices and darting across the sandy sea bottom. Pelagics do roam this site and you can often see Spanish mackerel, snappers and tuna darting into the deep. Occasionally also green and hawksbill turtles.

Kipwajini: depth 30 m.
A seamount at a depth of 30 metres, which can be done as three separate dives in one outing. Bigger game fish are common, including pelagic fish such as barracudas, king mackerels and tunas circling the deep waters. The mount is surrounded by steep coral mountain sides and topped off with coral gardens where you can see many species of anemones, soft corals and shoals of tropical fish.

Laiuni
A seamount surrounded by coral garden slopes. Visibility often reach 30m and amongst the giant sponge barrels and spiralling whip coral, you may find camouflaged reef dwellers such as frog fish, leaf fish and the bottom dwelling crocodile fish. Sting rays are common.

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5. STONE TOWN
the cluster of little islands off Stone Town are all surrounded by stretches of coral reef with beautiful coral gardens and even endemic species that cannot be found anywhere else. These waters also offer a range of wrecks suitable for divers of all levels.

The diving centre One Ocean, the same one leading diving operations in Matemwe and around Mnemba has a base here in Stone Town located just along the front from the House of Wonder. This is the only diving operator able to grant regular excursions in this area and it is also possible to buy packages covering both Mnemba and Stone Town.

Stone Town offers a good range of hotels to choose from.

Diving sites off Stone Town
Diving sites off Stone Town

Bawe: depth 3-18 m.
This island is located about 6 km off Stone Town and has a reef stretching around it with a maximum depth of 18m. Here you will find beautiful corals like acropora, staghorn, brain corals and a large variety of reef fish.

Wrecks :
The Great Northern: a British steel cable laying ship built in 1870 which sank on New Years Eve 1902. It has become a magnificent artificial reef after these many years and is home to a number of leaf fish, lionfish and geometric morays. Parts of the ship can still be identified and some relics may still be found though not taken. The Great Northern is an ideal wreck for the beginner diver as it is only 12 metres and is a snorkellers paradise.

La Royal Navy Lighter: this wreck lies at 30 m. depth. It is home to large schools of rainbow runners, trevally, sweepers, yellow finned goat fish and sometimes reef sharks. Suitable only for experienced advanced divers and above.

La Penguin: a pontoon steam sand dredger which lies at about 40 m. depth. This is a fantastic dive thanks to the huge numbers of big blue fin trevally, barracuda, large stingrays, morays and lots more ... but suitable only for experienced deep divers.

Murogo: depth 8-24 m.
Located about 25 min off Stone Town by boat this site has a sloping reef wall with a huge variety in coral and fish. Turtles as well are occasionally seen.

Pange reef: depth 3-14 m.
This reef is adjacent to the first sandbank off Stone Town about 5 km far away. There is an enormous variety of coral and lots of tropical reef fish such as clown fish, parrot fish and moorish idols to name a few.
This is an ideal dive for beginners since waters are usually calm and shallow. it is also suitable for night dives when you may see cuttlefish, squid, crab and other night dwellers.

Nyange: depth 6-16 m.
Set about 10 km southwest off Stone Town, Nyange is the largest of all reefs on the west coast and contains several dive sites [i.e. Turtles Den, Groupers Play Ground and Coral Bay] all of which are unique. A new species of coral has recently been identified on this reef and marine biologists believe it to be endemic to Nyange.

Boribu: depth 12-30 m. [recommended]
Situated 14 km off Stone Town, a 45 min. fast boat ride, Boribu is considered one of the best dive sites of Zanzibar. Huge Barrel Sponges, enormous gorgonian fan's, large moray eels, large pelagic fish and large lobsters are all features of this dive. In season, whale sharks pass through. The maximum depth is 30m. Boribu has an underwater reef unlike any other in Zanzibar with beautiful mountains of varying corals including the spectacular columna corals.

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6. PAJE, BWEJUU E JAMBIANI
This part of the island is not particularly renowned for diving but obviously there are here as well some interesting sites suitable both for novice and more experienced divers.

There are several diving centre:
Buccaneer Diving is located in Paje at Arabian Night Annex but it serves also guests of other facilities of the area such as Paje by Night.
It covers almost all dive sites mentioned below.
Rising Sun Dive Centre is situated at Bwejuu inside Breezes Beach Club and serves as well guests of The Palms and Baraza.
Easy Blue Divers, situated at Jambiani inside Blu Oyster Hotel. We do not recommend any accommodation of this area because of the massive presence of sea weeds and coral outcrops in the lagoon up to the beach. The area itself do not offer high standard facilities therefore we would rather suggest to stay in one of Paje mid specification facilities taking advantage of their stunningly beautiful beach from where Jambiani can be reached in 5-10 min by car or directly by boat.

Diving sites on the southeast coast of Zanzibar
Diving sites on the southeast coast of Zanzibar

Ciupis Garden, Fisherman Point, Mwamba Reef: depth 8-20 m.
All three of these dive sites feature barrel sponges which are the best spots for turtles and giant eels and beautiful coral gardens starting at 8 m. and gently sloping down to about 20 m filled with coloured reef life and set against a white sandy bottom home to huge stingrays, eagle rays and the occasional guitar shark. This site is particularly recommended to lovers of macrophotography.

Blue Wall, Cave 20, Ukweli Reef: starting at 25 m.
All three of these dive sites are pristine coral walls starting at around 25m where you will encounter large pelagics including oceanic and reef sharks, huge stingrays, groupers and barracudas. At this depth, even the more regular reef life such as moray eels, angelfish and bat fish are much larger. Occasionally it is also possible to encounter who live in big groups and hunt all along this coast.

Ciupis Sponges, Pale Pale Reef, Sponge Reef: depth 23 m.
All three of these dive sites feature barrel sponges and offer therefore high changes to encounter turtles. The sandy bottom is home to huge stingrays, eagle rays and the occasional guitar shark.

The lagoon: depth 6-18 m.
Situated inside the barrier reef off Paje shore this is an ideal site for novice divers. Common sightings include nudibranchs, leaf fish, snake eels, pipefish, big schools of bat fish, scorpion and lion fish, puffers and trumpet fish.

Cement wall: depth 12-35 m.
Situated inside the barrier reef this site is named after a ship that in the 1930's lost it’s cargo of cement. Three large anchors can still be seen and one of them lies in front of a small cave rich in marine life. Black tip sharks can occasionally be encountered here.
It is possible to dive across the garden or alongside the wall therefore this site is suitable for all levels of certification.

Riva: depth 8-30 m.
This site lies just in front of the entrance channel to the lagoon and features wonderful corals. Occasionally you might also see some large pelagis and black tip reef shark.

Stingray City: depth 5-18 m.
Set inside the lagoon just off Jambiani shores, this dive ends up at Stingray City where you should normally see dozens of blue-spot stingrays darting across sea grass.

Napoleon Wall: depth 12-35 m.
This spectacular drop off lies outside the lagoon off jambiani and it is named after the presence of many resident napoleon wrasse. The site features as well soft and hard corals home to many tropical fish and moray eels.

Jambiani Amphitheatre: depth 10-30 m.
This site is located outside the lagoon starting at about 10 m. depth. From the diving point you will drift along the coral wall and the current will eventually lead into a wide amphitheatre. The high coral walls provide an astounding view as they give way to a sandy bottom at about 30m. Turtles are occasionally encountered here.

Sau Inn Garden: depth 6-20 m.
This site is located in the lagoon off jambiani. it offers beautiful garden of assorted corals with amazing colours and a plenitude of fish. It can be a good second dive of the day as much of it is conducted at a depth of less than 10 m. and a pleasant ride when some current is running. Keep your eye out for leaf fish and the occasional ribbon eel.

Big Cave: depth 12-25 m.
This cave, located on the outside of the reef at 25 m depth can be reached with a drift dive finally ending up in a very beautiful coral garden with plenty of fish. Along the way you are likely to encounter large moray eels, groupers and lobsters to name a few.


Haunted Wall Mwana Wa Mwana Nankivell Hunga Kendwa reef Renco bommi Nungwi House Reef Shanes Reef Chakatuni Ametatu Nungwi coral garden Mbwanagawa Haji Kichafi Misoli Leons wall Kombe Mushrooms Big wall Jackfish spot Indian gate Westbank West gardens Acquarium Wattabomi Kichwani Small wall Mnemba Sandbank Mnemba Coral garden Turtle reef Karamba Unguja Lodge Abbas reef Dolphin wall Tindiji reef Kizidi Reef Mnasi Moja Groupers grotto Kungui Nicki reef Amazon, Ukombe reef Laiuni Kipwajini Bawe Pange Wrecks [relitti] Murogo Pwakuu Nyange Boribu Ukweli reef Cave 20 Fisherman point Blue wall Ciupis garden Pale pale reef The lagoon Cement wall Riva Stingray city Napoleon wall Jambiani anphitheatre Sau inn Big Cave