Zanzibar Hotels

Zanzibar Diving

Scuba diving and snorkelling are both excellent off the North coast of Zanzibar. While many visitors choose Mnemba Atoll or Pemba for diving there are plenty of great diving spots off the coast of Unguja itself. Furthermore, while Pemba is renowned for having the clearest waters, the stronger currents around the island make it less appropriate for novice divers.

What you might see when Diving off Zanzibar’s coasts

The attraction of Zanzibar for divers is its extensive coral reefs. In these coral gardens live myriad tropical fish of various colours. There are also many larger species of fish such as tuna, kingfish and barracuda. Other aquatic creatures such as dolphins and turtles can also be seen all year round, but whales and sharks are seasonal and you would be very lucky to encounter them. Depending on location and the dive centre one can also experience wreck dives, drift dives and night dives.

Some of the reefs can be seen snorkelling but Scuba Diving is by far the best way to get a more extensive and exciting underwater experience. Scuba diving, while often spectacular, is costly and requires the right arrangements and precautions. It is advised that you read all the information on this site before diving and also take a look at where you can also post any questions you might have.

Diving Safety

Scuba Diving is a very dangerous activity and claims the most lives proportionally of any sport. This is why it is vital to ensure the dive centre you are working with is fully equipped and has an excellent record. Though all the dive centres recommended here are PADI (professional association of diving instructors) accredited this doesn’t actually mean that much. Accreditation is based upon the number of divers the centre passes and PADI dive centres have not been visited or inspected by the association.

When organising your Scuba Dive the best thing to do is email or telephone the centre you intend to book with in order to get a real sense of how knowledgeable they are and how serious about Scuba; asking about whether the have marker buoys to signal strong drifts is a good start. You can also do some inspection of your own. Check boats and equipment especially. Any sign of disorganisation or battered equipment is obviously bad. Modern RIB boats with oxygen and HF radio are the best boats. Many companies use converted Dhows or even standard boats. All boats should have life vests and two engines.

Diving Courses and Costs

Diving is not cheap, and, being a dangerous activity, cannot be done on a budget. Beginners will have to undergo a course in order to dive at all. These are best completed at diving centres that offer e-Learning as this means the theoretical element of the course can be completed remotely before arrival on the island. All the centres listed below offer e-Learning.

For non PADI certificate holding divers who are unsure if scuba is for them there are often taster courses on offer at dive centres. These trial dives cost between USD 70 and USD 100. To take a dive course costs between USD 400 and USD 600. Once you hold a certificate dives will cost between USD 40 and USD 60 per dive. All these costs include transport and gear hire. If you have any gear of your own such as under-water cameras or computers you would be advised to bring these as hiring them locally can be very costly.

Recommended Diving Centres on Zanzibar

(please note that links are to external sites)

Diving Suggested Best Practice

Coral reefs are very fragile environments and there are certain codes that should be followed by responsible divers.

The following are the generally recommendations followed when reef-diving:

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