The 8 best diving and snorkeling spots in Zanzibar

plage de Nungwi

In need of a breath of compressed air? Come and discover the best diving and snorkeling spots in Zanzibar, Tanzania’s incredible pearl.

Zanzibar is a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa. This mysterious chain of islands is renowned for its palaces, Indian temples, churches and mosques. But above all for its magnificent white sand beaches, breathtaking lagoons and sumptuous coral reefs!

What better way to admire them than to discover the best diving and snorkeling spots in Zanzibar? We’ll describe each of them to help you make your choice. Now all you have to do is put on your fins and adjust the elastic of your mask. Isn’t life great underwater?

1. Leven Bank

Leven Bank - plongée Zanzibar

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Aqua Images

    📍 D eparture point: Nungwi beach

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: N1

    🐠 Fauna and flora: nudibranchs, barracudas, rays

Leven Bank is one of the best diving spots in Zanzibar, and more generally in East Africa. Imagine a mountain submerged by the ocean, between 12 and 55 meters deep! Imagine a wide variety of corals, nudibranchs, moray eels, jacks and barracudas. Imagine humpback whales, which can be spotted offshore between August and September…

Leven Bank is all this and more, accessible from Nungwi beach, one of the archipelago’s main departure points for water sports. Because of the sometimes rough currents, we recommend this spot for experienced divers. But what a spectacle…

2. Wattabomi

plage de Nungwi

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Valeriia Krasnova

    📍 D eparture point: Nungwi beach

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: beginner

    🐠 Fauna and flora: groupers, red-toothed triggerfish, snappers

On the outskirts of the stunning Mnemba atoll, Wattabomi promises sensational underwater scenery between 6 and 30 meters. This Zanzibar diving spot is suitable for beginners to advanced divers, who simply choose the depth they prefer. It can be described as « lunar » due to its large expanse of sand punctuated by coral spats.

Wattabomi is ideal for drift dives, when you let yourself be carried along by the current with a minimum of effort. The boat will be there to pick you and your group up, so don’t worry!

In the meantime, it’s time to contemplate the enormous, multicolored coral reefs, home to bottlenose dolphins, plaice, octopus, jacks and stonefish. The stronger the current, the better the visibility. A veritable profusion of life just a few meters from the surface!

3. Kichwani

Kichwani - plongée Zanzibar

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Gideon Ikigai

    📍 D eparture point: Mnemba atoll

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: beginner

    🐠 Fauna and flora: mullets, nudibranchs, dolphins, napoleons

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or an expert: the Kichwani diving spot is accessible to all and promises great underwater sessions. Here, the shallow drift dive follows a 45° slope to a depth of thirty meters. Soft corals, mackerel, nudibranchs and white-tip reef sharks make their home here.

Snorkeling enthusiasts are not left out, with beautiful aquatic walks along the shoreline. This site is distinguished by the large number of species that can be encountered close to the surface. On certain days, mischievous eels and clownfish will swim close to the beach in the company of webbed humans. In fact, we strongly advise them to take advantage of this beautiful stretch of white sand – it’s a real paradise on earth!

4. Big Wall

Big Wall

Photo credit: Shutterstock – blue-sea.cz

    📍 D eparture point: Nungwi beach

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: N2

    🐠 Fauna and flora: tuna, moray eels, lobsters

Big Wall is aptly named: a vertiginous wall plunging to a depth of 55 metres off the coast of Dongwe, east of Zanzibar. Reserved for experienced divers, it is home to a rich variety of aquatic flora and fauna. The stars of the scene: barracudas, groupers, moray eels, snappers…

This drift dive is an opportunity to enter small underwater caves adorned with soft and hard corals and sponges. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that this Zanzibar dive spot is sometimes home to giant green turtles. Impressive yet fragile, their shell measures an average of 120 cm and the animal can weigh up to 140 kg!

5. Aquarium

atoll de Mnemba - plongée Zanzibar

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Jorge Lascar

    📍 D eparture point: Stone Town

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: beginner

    🐠 Fauna and flora: mackerel, lobster, lionfish

It, too, lives up to its name. Departing from Stone Town, Zanzibar’s picturesque capital on the island of Unguja, this Zanzibar diving spot is a sure bet. It is located on the Mnemba atoll and features a wall of coral sloping between 10 and 25 meters.

Aquarium is accessible to beginner divers, who will encounter gobies, trumpetfish, lionfish and lobsters. Low currents, exceptional visibility and an abundance of underwater life are just some of the reasons to visit Mnemba. From April to September, the area (very calm and unspoilt) is also the nesting ground for many sea turtles.

6. Chumbe Island (snorkeling)

Chumbe Island

Photo credit: Shutterstock – BBP76000

    📍 D eparture point: Stone Town

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: beginner

    🐠 Fauna and flora: dolphins, Hawksbill turtles, rays

Chumbe Island is an exceptional marine reserve renowned for its ecosystem. There’s no need to bring tanks and wetsuits: masks, flippers and snorkels are all you need. This island paradise is located just a few kilometers off the south-west coast, near Stone Town.

It includes a fully protected coral reef sanctuary between 1 and 3 meters deep. They are home to over 500 different species of reef fish. You’ll also have the chance to admire (but not touch, it’s forbidden) colorful sponges and starfish. Chumbe Island is one of Zanzibar’s last unspoilt coral islands, making it well worth a visit.

7. Tumbatu Island (Snorkeling)

Tumbatu Island - plongée Zanzibar

Photo credit: Wikimedia – Matt Kieffer

    📍 D eparture point: Nungwi beach

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: beginner

    🐠 Fauna and flora: octopus, scorpionfish, nudibranchs

Tumbatu Island is a small haven of peace off the northwest coast. This snorkeling spot in Zanzibar has many advantages: with its weak current, it is reassuring for beginners. The area is also ideal for snorkeling initiations. Three different sites are accessible: Shetani, Popabawa and Mwana, all with flourishing coral reefs.

Turtles, leaf fish, octopuses and moray eels are all present at depths of between 3 and 12 meters. Moray eels? There are many different kinds of moray eels on Zanzibar: pepper moray, giant moray, leopard moray, blue ribbon moray… For the record, this is one of the few species of fish that can swim… backwards.

8. Magic Reef

Magic Reef

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Vojce

    📍 D eparture point: Nungwi beach

    🌡️ Water temperature: 26 – 30°C

    🤿 Level: beginner

    🐠 Fauna and flora: moray eels, turtles, seahorses

Once again, it lives up to its name. The « magic reef » is an ideal place for an introduction to scuba diving. At depths of between 12 and 20 meters, your progress will allow you to share the home of a beautiful diversity of animals. Stonefish, lionfish, jacks, seahorses, leaffish and turtles all live in peace in these incredibly clear turquoise waters.

This diving spot in Zanzibar generally lends itself well to underwater photography. The current is not very strong, so you’re sure to get some great shots. Click here!