Mnemba Atoll is the most famous conservation area in Zanzibar located near Matemwe. It is also one of the best places to snorkel/dive within the island with beautiful coral reefs and clear blue water.
If your idea is to see a lot of different species of fish this is the place to go. Turtles and dolphins can also be spotted here swimming around people. One of the best reasons to pick this area is that the visibility is great, reaching up to 10 to 30 meters.
Mnemba Island can be spotted from the snorkel/dive areas and it’s the largest island of Zanzibar Archipelago. The island is private and it can only be visited as a guest to &Beyond Mnemba Island, a beautiful place to stay with exorbitant prices per night, between $1000 US and $2000 US. A fine is given to non-guests if they try to go to the island or snorkel/dive too close to the shore.
How to go to Mnemba Atoll?
The best way to go out there to do water activities such as snorkel/dive is to go as part of a group with an organized company. Although, if you are experienced enough, you can rent a boat and go by yourself.
Having researched before the places to snorkel/dive I knew that I couldn’t go wrong with this area. Sure, there are other places around but if you are just there for a few days, like in my case, this is the place to go.
Divine Diving, Yoga & Dive Center were just around the corner from our accommodation. So when it came to choose a company we already knew it would be easy. We didn’t make many plans about it and at the end of the first day we just booked it on our way back from the beach.
The diving companies in Zanzibar kind of offer the same experiences and the boats, from what I have seen, are all about the same size.
My experience in Mnemba Atoll
We left from Nungwi at about 10am. It’s not a short boat ride but it’s a comfortable one. With the sun shining on us and the beautiful clear waters of Zanzibar it went quick.
On the same boat there were groups to dive and others to snorkel. I decided to snorkel because just before I dived in the Maldives so didn’t really thought I needed that again. Also, snorkel around is much easier and the water is so full of fish that I don’t think I missed anything. Nevertheless the area is good for both experiences.
The first spot was shallow and the water clear like a pool. I have seen all sorts of fish, most of them with bright colours and just swimming around us. Lots of surgeon fish, clown fish, corals and beautiful coloured starfish everywhere.
The second spot was deeper but with more coral reef. Oh my! Beautiful live colours everywhere and big shoals of fish around us.
I loved it, although this last area was a bit more crowded. It’s super easy to snorkel around as the waters are calm. We did have diving suits but it was just a matter of protection I think, because the waters were warm. The diving company also had masks included, but I had my one, that you can shop in the link below.
After snorkeling in these two different locations, we got lunch on the boat – pineapple and veggies and got back at around 16h, which was great as we still had time to relax on the beach.
Take care of nature
Please, like in other reef areas with corals and marine life avoid physical contact. I did many dives/snorkels around the world and have never seen behaviours like that anywhere else. In both snorkel/dive sites I have seen plastic water bottles and waste food. I have even some dive instructors from another company giving small pieces of food to attract more fish. I highly disapprove this attitude and it’s clear that there is a lack of education around. I have told my opinion to the company that took us out there.
It would be a shame to ruin such a beautiful place like Zanzibar and the reefs around the island, so please if you are reading this be careful and reprehend this behaviour.
Have you been to Zanzibar? How was your experience?
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