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Diving Mnemba Atoll on Zanzibar | Tanzania

Mantis shrimp - Mnemba atoll

The island of Zanzibar lies off the Tanzania coastline and is a unique mix of history, culture and natural beauty. There are dive sites all the way around the island but the Mnemba Atoll, which lies off the northern tip of the island and in the channel that separates Zanzibar from Pemba island, attracts the majority of divers.

The pear-shaped atoll measures around 15 square kilometres and to one side is tiny, pretty Mnemba island. This area is regarded as a conservation zone and is a charming spot with some impressive marine life. Although the reefs are not enormous they are home to a wide array of animals from the tiniest of shrimp to huge turtles. Two very rarely seen animals are easily found here – the outrageously patterned dragon moray eel and the world's largest nudibranch, the Djibouti Spanish Dancer.

While most dives are relaxing, easy and shallow, there are also a couple of very deep wall dives suitable for advanced divers.

Yellowfin goatfish - Mnemba atoll
Mnemba Atoll, Zanzibar image gallery Scuba diving features
Marine Life Turtles
Giant frogfish
Djibouti Spanish Dancer
Dragon moray eel
Top dive site Aquarium
Seasons Windy April-May
Visibility 10 – 40 metres, sometimes more
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Zanzibar
Flights via Nairobi or
Dar es Salaam
Dive operators and accommodation Hotels from budget to top class. Not all have an on-site dive centre but will use one nearby.

Access to Mnemba is by dhoni, the lovely local boats. The atoll is only 30 minutes from the village of Matemwe on the coast. Daily access is affected by tidal changes and you may have to drive up a bumpy track for some distance to be able to cross the shallow coastal reef. Nearby coastal accommodation tends towards the budget/backpacker style so is good value. An option is to stay at Mnemba Lodge on the island but it is very expensive.

More East Africa diving destinations
the Coast


Medjumbe Island
East Zanzibar
Mnemba Atoll
Pemba Island
SAFARI combining an East Africa diving holiday with a wildlife safari
These reefs are popular with day trippers and snorkellers but this is surprisingly rewarding diving with a good mix of patch reefs and hard corals, lots of interesting critters and occasional encounters with bigger animals. The diving is easy, currents are avoidable and the visibility is good for most of the year.
We were surprised by how much we liked diving around this small atoll. The marine life was far more varied than we expected. We dived with One Ocean Diving and thought their system, staff and operation were excellent. On a conservation note, there is an issue with local fishermen encroaching on designated dive areas, a situation which is constantly being monitored.
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Complete reports on this area are in
Diving the World.

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