Zanzibar island has a distinct allure, fine white-sand beaches, and a warm turquoise water border this small slice of island paradise. The stone town is rich in culture, with a number of influences such as Arabian, African, and Persian.
Located in the Indian Ocean around 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, the Zanzibar archipelago is a thing of postcard-worthy beauty. Fine white-sand squeaks between your toes as you walk along beside the crystal clear turquoise water. Zanzibar is the ultimate getaway for luxury relaxation.
Thanks to its location in the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar also caters well to scuba divers! Scuba diving Zanzibar promises unique experiences worth writing home about including some incredible coral reefs and a variety of marine life.
Placed conveniently on the coast of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar brings with it an abundance of unique diving experiences. You’ll have the opportunity to discover hundreds of new species of marine life, both macro and giant!
This part of the Indian Ocean grants access to almost aquarium-like conditions with over 30 dive sites on offer from reef to wall to wreck. This makes Zanzibar something of a diver’s wonderland and one of the world’s premier diving locations.
These waters also make for comfortable conditions, with warm blue water and immense visibility that often exceeds 100 feet, making it a great option for divers of all abilities!
There is no requirement to be certified to scuba dive in Zanzibar. While there are some dives catered to the more confident and experienced, there are plenty of options for newbies too.
There are many tour operators that cater to those of all levels of ability, no problem for beginner divers. Thanks to the vastly different conditions and diverse range of dive sites available, there are plenty of beginner-friendly and easily accessible dive sites to get your flippers wet for the first time.
It’s always recommended to get scuba certified to give yourself the best, most enjoyable diving experience possible. While you’ll have a great time scuba diving Zanzibar as a first-time diver, there’s a lot you can miss out on without the extra confidence and diving experience, such as the more challenging caves and wrecks.
In addition, becoming scuba certified will help you feel more comfortable and confident underwater. This leads to maximum enjoyment and safety from your diving experience and something worth considering.
Zanzibar Scuba Diving Requirements
Zanzibar has no specific laws governing scuba diving that those diving with an organized tour need to be aware of.
As always, tour operators state that you must be in good physical condition and have some swimming ability. Children must be at least 10 years old to scuba dive with a tour operator. You may be required to complete a medical form to confirm your eligibility to dive.
With that said, it’s always highly recommended to have a dive buddy when you’re out scuba diving in Zanzibar, as it is anywhere else. This is particularly the case if you’re out diving without a tour operator or guide. In this situation, it’s also good practice to make use of diver down flags.
Best Dive Sites in Zanzibar
If you’ve ever thought of diving in the African waters, I bet Zanzibar hasn’t escaped your eye. In tandem with a wide variety of marine life, the aquarium-ish conditions make it a premium diving destination.
While the coral reefs are home to about 500 species, the warm waters from the Indian Ocean are responsible for creating an ideal water temperature around 27-degree Celsius throughout the year. In my opinion, here are the 3 sites that you surely can’t afford to miss.
The 7 kilometers long reef of Mnemba Atoll is a successful conservative story in itself, opening its door for turtles, dolphins, and whale sharks from September to December. It’s one of the most sought-after marine reserves or conservation areas in Zanzibar.
There are no less than 12 diving sites surrounding the reserve. If you want to head out straight after reaching the island, I’d suggest going for the Aquarium that’s only a 20 minutes boat ride away. But my favorite is the Big Wall, which features a sharp vertical drop from 18 to 55 meters to get the adrenaline rushing!
If this sounds ideal to you, be sure to check out our recommended diving package experience below!
The largely untouched coral reefs in and around Pemba Island are bound to make your diving experience breathtaking. Not only does the average water temperature barely exceed the 26-degree Celsius mark, but the clear visibility extends beyond 30 meters.
It’s difficult to summarize the plethora of diving spots and their characteristics. However, none of them lack the spellbinding blue waters and healthy shallow reefs. The cherry on the cake is the pelagic fishes that find base in the hard and soft coral gardens.
A pro tip: the Swiss Reef is suitable for advanced divers, while the Shimba Hills can assist novices.
If you’re heading to Zanzibar and looking to get your first taste of scuba diving, this unique dive will definitely make lasting memories, check out our recommended diving package below!
Unlike its predecessors, Kizimkazi, like some sites in KK, remains a less explored and seldom busy diving spot owing to the limited inner reef. That said, it’s still good if you want a few dives on a leisurely day of your trip. What’s more, there’s the Kizimkazi reef down south, sporting a shallow stretch of water.
On the bright side, there are plenty of adjacent diving sites with varied diving depths. So before you set foot here, get hold of all the nearby locations. And move on to the next spot on your list only after swimming with the dolphins.
Best Time to go Diving in Zanzibar
October-November and March-April are considered the best times to go diving in Zanzibar. At these times there’s little wind and the water conditions are blissfully calm. Visibility is also best during these months. Having said that, Zanzibar is a year-round diving destination with water temperatures changing little throughout the year.
Depending on the site and conditions, expect visibility in excess of 100 feet and water temperatures of 78-85°F.
How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost in Zanzibar?
If you’re looking at booking a dive package experience through a tour company in Zanzibar, you’ll find prices between $120-$180. The prices generally include gear rental and levy’s so there are no extra fees.
In addition, a PADI Open Water Certification will set you back around $500, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Scuba Diving Gear in Zanzibar
There are plenty of dive shops located in Zanzibar. This means gear rental is always an option.
It’s worth noting, you’re left with one less thing to think about when going with a diving package from a guided tour operator as all equipment and gear are included.
However, buying your own gear might be ideal for you if you’re a more keen and experienced diver!
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