No trip to Zanzibar would be considered complete without some time in the water. Matt and I both love scuba diving and my cousin, Beth, had completed her open water dive certification just before joining us on this trip, so scuba diving was a huge priority for all of us.
A few different people told us Mnemba Atoll was the best place to scuba or snorkel. Located just off the North Shores of Zanzibar, the waters around Mnemba Island are known for their influx of sea life including regular dolphin pod sightings. When we learned from our Buccaneer Diving dive master, Waziri, he knew of a juvenile white tip shark in the area we were sold.
From the minute we pulled up on the beach we were not disappointed. It took us about 20 minutes to unload, get our wetsuits on and carry everything to the boat. Within just a few minutes from departure we saw our 1st pod of dolphins. Waziri prepared our masks and snorkels, and we jumped into the water to observe the dolphins up close. On this particular day, the dolphins were extra playful. They swam and rolled under and around us for some time. A couple approached us quite closely while a few kept their distance but were still visible through the crystal clear waters.
The boat ride was smooth and relaxing as we approached our 1st dive site, Wattabomy. This was our favorite of the two dive sites because we saw a turtle, two octopuses, and a juvenile white tip reef shark among a ton of colorful fish & corals. The water temp was about 26 C/ 79 F.
In between the two dives, we stopped to eat lunch, re-gear and rev up for our 2nd dive. Buccaneer provided a delicious lunch of fresh fruits (bananas, mangos, pineapple, oranges), chicken & fresh vegetable chapatti wraps, cookie/biscuits, ginger tea and sodas/water. They even provided Beth a gluten free meal of some homemade potatoes and sauce, which looked and smelled yummy. If you have any food restrictions, just let them know ahead of time.
The 2nd dive at Kichwami was located about 5 minutes from the 1st dive. Here we saw larger pods of fish and an eel. The amount of coral reef seemed to be a bit less, but the variety and number of fish seemed to be more than the first site. Beth and Matt both had smoother dives at the 2nd site, but I struggled with a blown eardrum and getting cold. Overall, we all preferred the views at Wattabomy over Kichwami. It was hard for any site to win over a turtle and a shark.
Our experience with Buccaneer Diving was really good. Our first contact with Buccaneer Diving was through Lauren, their Sales and Marketing Associate. She was awesome. She fitted us with all our equipment the day before to help our day of diving go faster and smoother.
Boat captains, Sibabu and Mussa, were very welcoming and extremely helpful to us as we entered and exited the waters. We had fun chatting with them about their favorite places to fish around Zanzibar. Neither were fluent in English, but we liked that they still tried to get to know us and us them.
We were disappointed we were only able to dive twice while on the island. I blew my right eardrum during my 2nd dive and had to switch from dive mode to healing mode. We wanted to checkout stingray alley and some seahorses, but it wasn’t meant to be. If you are looking to dive while in Zanzibar contact Buccaneer Diving to assist you with your needs.
Things to Know Before You Go:
-Mnemba Atoll Dives
- Stop into the shop early to try on your gear before your dive. Not required but saves time.
- Your day starts at about 6 am. If you are not an early riser, they do have dives closer to Paje, which start in late morning/early afternoon and have night dives available.
- The Mnemba dive location does carry an additional fee of $65 USD because of the permit entrance fees. If you can’t afford, the additional fees don’t worry we have heard the dive sites outside of Mnemba are wonderful.
- Lunch and some drinks are provided. The fruit and chicken chapatti wraps were delicious. If you have special dietary requirements, let Buccaneer know ahead of time.
- Drive to the dive site is about 1 hour one way. Buccaneer provides transportation between their shop location and the dive site. Hotel pick up may be available – just ask.
- This is not one of those luxury type dive boats but don’t let that discourage you. The dive master & captains assist with setting up and gear. It’s a local wooden fisherman’s boat full of character and charm.
- Backroll entries are required.
- You may be required to carry some of your gear between the car and dive boat. If this is an issue, ask for assistance.
- Bring a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, underwater camera and eye drops if you have sensitive eyes.
- Wear your swimsuit. Once you leave the dive shop, there is nowhere to easily change clothes.
- You may see dolphins on your way to your dive site. Be ready to jump in the water at any time.
Matt felt he could have dove without the shorty wetsuit. I was cold by the end of each dive. We recommend wearing a shorty because being cold while diving is not so fun.
Not a diver? No problem. Sign up with Buccaneer to snorkel. The water around Zanzibar is so clear making the snorkeling incredible.
Prices vary depending on dive type and location. Contact Buccaneer Diving for details
4 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. Type of traveler rating – adventure, romance, relaxation, partier, historical, bucket lister
* Thank you to Buccaneer Diving for the complimentary dives. As always, our opinions are ours – honest, not biased and as we experienced.