The aroma of exotic spices lingers in the air around Zanzibar, while white-sailed dhows make sparkling tracks in the turquoise Indian Ocean. There is much to love about this paradise location. And, although Zanzibar is known for its spicy tang and picturesque beaches, diving in Zanzibar is one of the most spectacular experiences you will have.
Zanzibar’s coral reefs are among the world’s most diverse, with hundreds of different marine species. With that, Zanzibar is a dive destination with something for everyone, including snorkelers, photographers, and deep divers. With over 30 dive sites including reef, wall, and wreck diving, diving in Zanzibar provides many opportunities to come across big game fish like kingfish, trevally, and tuna—all of which thrive in the powerful currents of the ocean.
Visitors diving in Zanzibar should also note that Zanzibar is one of the best places in the world to see the ocean’s largest fish, the whale shark. Turtles, dolphins, and whale sharks can be observed in the months of September to December at Mnemba Atoll, a seven-kilometre reef that is a conservation success story, and definitely worth putting on the diving destination bucket list.
When to go diving in Zanzibar
Diving in Zanzibar is a year-round activity. Water temperatures in the Indian Ocean are regularly around 27°C, with visibility often exceeding 30 meters. From September through December, divers can observe turtles, dolphins, and whale sharks. March to May and November to December are the wet seasons. The best months for diving in Zanzibar are February, March, July, and August, but divers should note that the peak season runs from July to September and December to January.
For divers with special interests, there are migration seasons with the highest concentration of certain marine creatures and the greatest likelihood of sightings. Manta rays can be seen from December to April, while blacktip reef sharks are sighted between June and March. Those wanting to see hammerhead sharks should book a diving trip between November and February. The impressive whale sharks are generally spotted around Mafia island during the months of October to February, while humpbacks make an appearance between July and October. Whitetip reef sharks, dolphins, and hawksbill turtles can be seen year-round.
How to get there
Airlines such as Ethiopian, Kenya, Oman, and Qatar travel directly to Zanzibar, however, most big international airlines fly to Dar es Salaam, which is only a short ferry ride away from the islands. Once on the islands, getting around is simple, with the mini-bus taxi sharing being the cheapest choice for getting from Stone Town to the north, east, and south beaches.