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Diving Pemba Island | Tanzania

Pink leaffish - Pemba

Peaceful and pretty Pemba island is actually just a 30-minute speed boat ride away from the Kenyan coastal town of Shimoni.

There are two distinct styles of diving on this little visited tropical isle: the eastern side is exposed to the open ocean so the scuba diving is mostly big blue. Rough seas and strong currents can sometimes bring in schools of sharks – hammerhead sightings are said to be common – but the sharks are generally deeper than sport diving depth limits will allow. To the south, the channel that separates Pemba from Zanzibar has similar conditions. However, for more classic reef diving, the western side of Pemba has shallow walls, sloping reefs and a surprising number of unusual critters.

Coastal geography means that diving is limited by the vagaries of time and tide. Flat fringing reefs extend quite a way offshore and the inner lagoons are extremely shallow. Currents are an every-dive occurrence, although they are not as strong on the west as the eastern side and there are many small islands to shelter behind.

Mantis shrimp - Pemba
East Coast Zanzibar image gallery Scuba diving features
Marine Life

ghost pipefish
schooling barracuda

Top dive site Uvinje Gap
Seasons Windy, April-May
Visibility 10 – 40 metres, sometimes more
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Zanzibar, Mombasa
Flights via Nairobi, Mombasa or Dar es Salaam
Dive operators and accommodation Only a few hotels on the island, but most have dive operations on-site.

Getting to Pemba is easiest and cheapest from Kenya as there are so many chartered and scheduled flights to Mombasa. However, there are only a handful of hotels (who will arrange the transfers for you) and just one liveaboard of note.

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
For experienced divers, this area might seem a bit tame especially due to the restriction of no diving at low tide. All the same, there are a lot of small animals to see and some glimpses of bigger ones.
Eastern Africa is best known for wildlife safaris and there is nothing that compares with spending time looking into the eyes of a male lion, or a cheetah, or an elephant. Pemba's idyllic turquoise water, cool breezes and charming marine realm is the perfect foil to a week of hot, dusty travel across the plains. We dived from Manta Reef Lodge which was very pleasant but has since changed management and upgraded.
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Complete reports on this area are in
Diving the World.

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