stuntchica

Zanzibar & Pemba Scuba Diving

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We are starting our Tanzania trip with a northern circuit safari and ending with beach time in Zanzibar. We only have a few days and we were wondering what people's thought are about the best dives. We are new divers, certified and trying to decide on dive shops and dive locations. How are the corals, fish, and shipwrecks in Stone Town? Are they worth a visit? It seems like Misali Island off Pemba has one of the best places to dive followed up by Mnemba.

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We were In Zanzibar a few weeks back. Most of the activities are organized by the lodge where you stay.

During the stay, we visited Stone Town - its a grubby place loaded with history. You basically have to visit Stone Town or your trip to Zanzibar will be incomplete, but I wouldn't do it again - its not my cup of tea. - And if you want some advice - don't stay in Stone Town.

Diving is still very good in some places. Although we opted not to scuba, the snorkeling was great. We were fortunate enough to have a manta ray pass us, and swam with dolphins a bit. Lots or ornamental little fish and colorful corals. The place we dived was called Mnemba, but I believe that Pemba was also good.

 

For me, the highlight was to see the Zanzibar red colobus monkey, and to do the forest walk, also saw my first elephant shrew.

 

The cost of these excursions seem to vary, with the exception of the scuba diving.

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What many people don't know is that there are direct flights between Joburg and Zanzibar. This can result in a saving.

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How much time do you have exactly? Bear in mind that you can't dive for the 24 hours before you fly, which wipes out your last day, so if a "few days" is 3 days, you only really have 2 days in which to dive, maybe less depending on your arrival time.

 

I've been to Zanzibar once before, and am going again in Sept. I only did a couple of dives last time, in the Nungwe area. The diving was OK but nothing amazing (compared to other places I've dived). I didn't go to Mnemba which is supposed to be the best area in Zanzibar, although I've heard it can get pretty busy.

 

Pemba and also Mafia are supposed to be excellent, but it will cost you extra to get there and if you only have a couple of days of actual diving, I'd question whether it's worth it (plus the accommodation is on average more expensive than Zanzibar). Unless you are going in whale shark season, when I believe Mafia is amazing.

 

Zanzibar is quite a good option because you can spend the last night in Stone Town, thus doing the sightseeing stuff in the last 24 hour time period when you can't dive anyway.

 

For this trip we're staying at Unguja Lodge. It has its own dive centre on site, and they dive the less visited sites. I'm travelling with a non-diver, so the diving wasn't the sole factor in deciding where to stay.

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We plan to be on Zanzibar for 3 days (june, not during whale shark season) and possibly if there is time go down to Selous Game Reserve. We definitely will make sure however we schedule it, we wont fly without the proper wait time, that would be no fun! We heard Pemba, Mnemba and mafia are the best places, with Mnemba being the busiest out of those. Each place has quite a few dive spots, so we are trying to figure out what specific dive spots in say Mnemba or Misali (Pemba). Mafia island sounds amazing, but it seems to far for us this trip.

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If you are looking for recommendations of specific sites, I think you are over planning. If you go to a dive centre to book dives, you'll be going whereever they're going that day. You won't have a choice.

 

Are you planning to go to Selous after Zanzibar, or is that part of the 3 days? It's not exactly a day trip. I don't really think you can just pop over to Pemba for a couple of dives either. You could stay on Pemba instead of Zanzibar, but I don't think doing both is very feasible, not with 3 days anyway.

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Stokey girl,

 

If we have time we definitely want to go to Selous. Have you been? We were looking at specific sites, but you are right about over planning. Not to mention it will depend on weather, currents, etc... We for sure are going to Mafia Island, however we havent figured out exactly the easiest way to get there. We are curous if there is boat from Zanzibar to Mafia, or if the only way is a boat from Dar Es Salaam?

 

Thanks!!!!!!!

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I'm pretty sure the only way to get to Mafia is to fly- no boats from Zanzibar or from Dar.

You can fly there from Arusha, but this will cost more than to Zanzibar (see Coastal Aviation- they have schedule and prices on their website). But spending your 3 nights on Mafia instead of Zanzibar is possible. Accommodation on Mafia will be more expensive than Zanzibar.

 

I am still not clear on how much time you have for this. If only 3 days, I think you need to choose between Zanzibar, Mafia and Selous. Doing more than one isn't really feasible. Even if you were prepared to fly to Selous for just one night from Zanzibar, this would wipe out your diving, as the flight to Selous would stop you diving in the 24 hour period before the flight. The same problem applies to combining Mafia and Zanzibar- it's adding flights, so more "no dive" time.

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