Zanzibar Dive Sites

Image - Zanzibar Dive Sites

Diving is becoming more popular in Zanzibar as the word spreads of the excellent sites on offer. The water is shallower and calmer than at Pemba and visibility is good. At present most of the sites are on the West side of the island and the East is largely unexplored.

When to go
Whilst the protected West side offers good diving year round the best months are October and November.

Diver There are sites to suit all levels of experience on Zanzibar. PADI and NAUI courses can be arranged through dive operators on the island. For the experienced diver there are many wrecks, and pristine areas waiting to be discovered.

Recompression Chamber
The closest recompression chamber is at the Kenyan naval base in Mombasa. The closest hospital is in Stone town.

Bawi Island

There are sites to suit all levels of experience on Zanzibar. PADI and NAUI courses can be arranged through dive operators on the island. For the experienced diver there are many wrecks, and pristine areas waiting to be discovered.
Access: 15 min boat trip from Stone Town.

Leven Bank

Diving is not always possible here due to strong currents but when conditions are favourable this is an excellent site for the experienced diver. The main draw is the large fish including giant guitarfish, large stingrays, moray eels and grouper.
Access: 30 min boat trip from Ras Nungwi

Nyange Reef

This reef is the largest of all reefs on the west coast and contains several dive sites, 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. The Zanzibar Dive Centre is the only dive shop to dive this reef on a regular basis. The sites dived are called Turtles Den, Groupers playground and Coral Bay. Has a good swimthrough and many scorpionfish, stonefish and snapper. The coral is diverse with big plate, mushroom and staghorn varieties. The shallow water also makes this a good snorkelling site.
Access: 20 min boat trip from Stone Town .

Pange Reef

Pange Reef is the first sand bank west of Zanzibar Town, maximum depth 14mts. An enormous variety of coral and lots of tropical reef fish such as Clown Fish, Parrot Fish, Moorish Idol and many others. Pange reef is ideal for Open Water Diver courses, as it offers calm and shallow waters. After the sun goes down why not try a night dive, where you may see cuttle fish, squid, crab and other night dwellers. this site is suitable for all levels of diver, there is little current and the shallow reef is covered in coral and many smaller fish.
Access: 20 min boat trip from Stone Town .


Access: another site with little current and suitable for all levels of experience. Falling to 28m the reef has good swim-throughs, many pinnacles and a large variety of coral. The marine life often seen include moray eels, turtles and Napolean wrasse

Murogo Reef

Maximum depth 24mtrs. It has a sloping reef wall with a huge variety of coral and fish. Turtles are often seen on this dive and this is usually the preferred third dive site for the Open Water Diver course. Only 25 minutes away from the dive shop in a traditional Zanzibar Dhow powered by a 100hp Volvo Penta. this is an easy dive and the dramatic drop off has superb coral, including brain, staghorn, acropora and plate. It is the variety of swim-throughs, pinnacles and gullies combined with the pristine reef and abundance of large and small fish that make this site one of the best in Zanzibar.
Access: 25 min boat trip from Stone Town .

Mwambe Ukombe

A year round site with little current this is suited to all levels of experience. Falling to 28m turtles are often seen and the coral is unspoilt.
Access: 30 min boat trip from Stone Town .

Bokibu Reef

Another site for any level of diver the reef is mainly formed by soft coral and is home to reef sharks, turtles, tuna and Napolean wrasse.
Access: 40 min boat trip from Stone Town

Stingray Alley

This site gets it’s name from the myriad of stingrays which inhabit the sandy gulley which cuts through the reef. With good visibility, calm water and an interesting variety of coral and fish adding to the spectacle of the stingrays, this is an enjoyable site to dive.
Access: 20 min boat trip from the Shehe Guest House on the East Coast.

Jambiani Reef (Unicorn Reef)

Another site with excellent visibility and the chance to see large game fish like barracuda, tuna and kingfish. There is a variety of coral including lettuce, brain and tabletop and an abundance of smaller fish, the large shoals of unicorn fish often lending their name to the reef.
Access: 30 min boat trip from Jambiani beach .

The Wreck

Lion Fish The Great Northern which sank on New Years Eve 1902 was a British steel cable laying ship. She has become a magnificent artificial reef after this many years and is home to a number of Leaf fish, Lionfish and Geometric moray’s. 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 12metres and is a snorkellers paradise.

For the experienced diver Leven Bank and Mwemba Island both offer excellent dives. For the less experienced with not enough time to dive all the sites Murogo is certain to satisfy any diver.

Dive Sites From Matemwe Beach Village

The dive sites from Matemwe Beach Village includes: Mnemba Island, kichwani, Wattabomi, Aquarium, West Garden and The Big Wall.

Mnemba Island

This is another site where some experience is required and you should expect a drift dive. The coral is excellent with honeycomb, pillar and a profusion of soft coral. Moray eels and turtles are often spotted as are large game fish.
Access: 25 min boat trip from Ras Nungwi.


Deep, clear, drift dive from 20m to 40m depending on the divers experience. Many coral species including Mushroom, Honeycomb, Brain and Staghorn. Below 30m a vertical wall of reef fish, Trumpetfish and large Napoleon Wrasse. Lucky divers see Reef sharks, Eagle and Manta rays.


Excellent site for snorkellers and novice divers. Schools of small reef fish, Regal Angelfish, many Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse, Semicircle Angelfish, Moorish Idol, eels, Blue Spotted Rays, Lionfish, and many more. Take your time looking for Flounders and Soles. These fish lie on their side buried in the sand, and are very well camouflaged. For most of the year you will be treated to the beautifully-patterned Striped Dolphin, but the Bottlenosed, Spinner and Common Dolphins also occur in the clear waters around Mnemba. This is an excellent photographic opportunity both above and below the water.


Depth to 20m. There is usually a slight current at this site. Patches of sandy bottom occur quite close to the reef with Surgeonfishes, Moorish Idols, parrotfish, Groupers, large Hawksbill and Green Turtles along with White tip reef sharks.

West Gardens

Depth 12 mtrs. Good spot for snorkellers and novice divers.

The Big Wall

Depth of 30mtrs dropping off to 50 mtrs You will descend down to 30 mtrs drifting along a vertical wall. On your silent drift along this wonderful wall you will be passed by different species of pelagics, schools of Rainbow Runner, Bluefin Trevally and sometimes Common Dolphinfish.

Last Updated on Monday 7th December 2009