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The best diving sites in Tanzania

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Diving in Tanzania

Situated on the Indian Ocean, Tanzania’s islands always have warm waters, teeming with vibrant tropical fish. The coral reefs are some of the best in the world, and the diving experiences available here are truly unmatched.

While Tanzania may be most famous for the Serengeti and amazing wildlife such as lions and elephants, the islands of Tanzania have some of the best diving in all of East Africa.

Here is a rundown of some of the best diving locations in Tanzania:

Mafia Island

Mafia Island may be small and secluded, but it has some of the best diving in Tanzania and East Africa. Here, you can swim with gentle whale sharks while exploring unique coral reefs in the Indian Ocean’s perma-warm waters. There is also a chance of spotting enormous Manta Rays while diving around Mafia Island.

Don’t worry! Whale sharks only eat plankton, not people.

Mafia Island is not only Tanzania’s largest marine park, but the largest in all of East Africa. Here, divers can see over 400 species of tropical fish! The coral reefs are beautiful and over 40 different types of coral have been identified around the island.

Mafia Island might be small, but the diving experiences here are some of the best in the world.

The best time to visit:

Mafia Island is October through March, for ideal weather. March to June might be rainy.

Recommended Diving Locations:

Chole Bay for some great diving around reefs and the well-known Kinasi Wall diving site.

Other popular sites include Jina Pass and Dindini Wall for more advanced divers.

Pemba island

Pemba Island is not as well known as its neighbor, Unguja. However, together, these two make up the Zanzibar Archipelago.

Pemba Island may have a small population and few hotels, but the diving here is incredible! On Pemba, divers can find beautiful reefs and sea fans and dive along some amazing dive walls.

Diving is most popular in the north, due to the chance of spying various types of sharks, including Hammerhead Sharks. If you want to interact with marine life, consider diving around Pemba Island.

Best time to visit:

The ideal time to visit is from August to March for pristine waters and great marine life sightings.

Recommended Diving Locations:

If you are a confident diver, check out the North Horn and Mtangani for some great dive sites.

Zanzibar - Nungwi

If you’re planning to visit Zanzibar’s main tourist island, you are in for a treat! The northernmost tip of the island regularly sees migrating whales. If you had a great land safari in Tanzania’s national parks, then take in a whole other type of safari in the waters of the Indian Ocean from Nungwi.

Divers can share waters with Humpback Whales and even Sperm Whales as they migrate through the open ocean. Other times of the year divers may spot manta rales and whale sharks around the area. There are vibrant reefs all around Nungwi and the tide does not greatly fluctuate, offering great diving any time of day, especially for newbies.

Best time to visit

September through early November is the ideal time to see migrating whales. December until late March for other marine life, including Whale Sharks.

Zanzibar - Mnemba Atoll

Beginners can have an amazing diving experience at Mnemba Atoll. This Atoll is famous in the world as the Tropical Fish capital of East Africa. Be ready with your underwater camera to snap pictures of the most brightly colored fish you can imagine.

The reefs of Mnemba Atoll are truly beautiful, offering some amazing, but not difficult diving for beginners.

Best time to visit

Mnemba Atoll offers great diving year-round. However, due to the tide, visitors should come early in the morning to get the best experience.

Misali island

With a name like ‘Coral Garden’, you know the diving must be exquisite! This tiny island often is known as Misali Island Coral Garden, and here you will find some of the most fantastic diving in Tanzania.

Situated off of Pemba Island, adventure-seekers who first dive around Pemba can take a day trip to this beautiful, remote location. There are no accommodations on the island, however, so you will need to play accordingly and pack your own food for the day.

Being a secluded island means that the reef, or coral garden, around Misali Island is incredibly healthy and undisturbed. Turtles, eels and manta rays can all be found in the waters around this shallow, vibrant reef.

If you want some epic underwater photography, make sure to visit the tiny Misali Island.

Fresh water diving in Lake Tanganyika

If you thought diving in Tanzania was only limited to the Indian Ocean, think again!

The world’s second largest, and second-deepest lake is Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika. Divers can swim in the clear waters of Lake Tanganyika for a unique, fresh water diving experience. Pair with an epic safari at Gombe Stream National Park or Mahale Mountains National Park for a truly unforgettable Tanzanian experience.

Lake Tanganyika is home to the largest number of Cichlid species in the world - actually, an estimated 95% of all cichlid fish types are represented in its waters. Scientists regularly conduct research here, but tourists who love fish can enjoy the beauty of these small fishes, too!

If you’re awed by all these incredible places, and having a hard time choosing which location for your diving adventure in Tanzania, contact our team. We will be happy to share more information with you!

Published on 9 November 2023 Revised on 11 March 2024
About this article
Thomas Becker
Expert Articles: 16
Written byThomas Becker
Travel Expert Tanzania
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In 2013, Thomas Becker relocated from Germany to Tanzania, captivated by the country's charm. He explored various regions, immersing himself in local culture, traditions, geography, and wildlife. He personally successfully ascended Kilimanjaro’s highest point - Uhuru Peak.

Prior to joining Altezza in 2023, Thomas held the role of general manager at several lodges, including Kaliwa Lodge. At Altezza Travel, he oversees the operational facets of all expeditions and manages our mountain team of over 1700 members, the largest in the region

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