Sunday, November 19, 2006

Diving in Tanzania and the Zanzibar Archipelago

by Ian Williamson

The warm clear waters along the Tanzanian coast offer superb and varied diving; with, some of the most spectacular sites in the gulf between Zanzibar and Pemba. Here the rough waters and strong currents are home to manta rays, white sharks, hammerheads and an abundance of pelagic life.

The best diving on Zanzibar Island is at Mnemba Atoll. The reef around this tiny East Africa Island offers a range of good inner and outer wall dives, as well as some beautiful coral gardens. Being located on the deepwater side of Zanzibar, this site is also a good place to catch sight of both whale-sharks and humpbacks during the migration. If you are going to restrict diving to Zanzibar Island only, then the most part of your trip should be centered around Matemwe and Mnemba Island.

The cluster of islands around Mafia island, which is south of Zanzibar, offers excellent locations for diving, holidays. The main island of Mafia has a hotel that offers diving trips within the marine park. Not many divers visit these sites yet, even though they are sheltered, relatively shallow and teaming with life. You can also dive in the unsheltered Indian Ocean side of Mafia which promises classic reef formation, walls, pinnacles, an abundance of tiger sharks and coral gardens, However, diving here is more difficult due to the swells, even when the waters are calm, The warm Indian Ocean waters surrounding Pemba Island are home to thousands of species of tropical fish and exotic marine life. The shallows around the numerous islands of Pemba offer stunning, snorkeling in aquamarine waters, lush coral gardens which stretch far ahead and then suddenly plunge into the dark blue depths of Pemba's incredible drop offs.

The small villages in this out of the way Island of Pemba have had little impact on the surrounding reefs; Pemba is relatively unknown and tourism is limited. These factors have helped to preserve the reefs and they remain in pristine condition. These exciting reefs stretch out as far as the eye can see. Large pelagic fish swim and hunt amongst the thousands of small, brightly colored reef fish that play around the plunging drop-offs and in the turquoise waters of the shallows - an underwater naturalist's dream. Pemba is renowned for its pristine and un-spoilt coral reefs but also for its vertical coral cliffs which plummet to depths of more than eight hundred meters. Underwater visibility often reaches forty meters or more. Looking over the precipice of some of the outer walls can be a mind blowing experience! Watch out for the Vertigo!

Pemba also has a stunning wreck dive in the South of Pemba Island at Panza populated by large groupers and Napoleon wrasse.

Mesali Island is famous as Pemba's only marine sanctuary. A visit to this beautiful reef is a must for all - beach lovers, snorkellers and divers alike. A perfect spot for a picnic and with delightful walks through the interior bush, you can spend the day relaxing on the white beach or snorkeling and diving on the numerous reefs around the island. The Mesali beaches are especially important as sea turtle nesting beaches.

Diving in Tanzania and in the islands off the coast offers some of the best diving the world has to offer. A driving vacation after a safari makes for a holiday of a life time. When you book please try to ensure you use operators, lodges that pay fair wages and help the communities on which they rely.

About the author
For further information Bethel Adventure on Tanzania, Kilimanjaro and the islands of Zanzibar. http://www.betheladventure.co.uk uses tourism to fund community initiatives focused on the education of the young and the medical care for the whole family.

1 Comments:

Blogger Earl John said...

nice post! this is the blog for divers and love underwater adventure like me. hope to see some pictures of the spot to convince the reader and can appreciate more the beauty of the site.

7:48 AM  

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