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Idyllic beaches, lush forests and historic architecture: what you see in Zanzibar above the surface of the ocean is just the beginning. Take a dive under the water and the Indian Ocean will reveal an aquarium full of bright colours. The water is always around 27 degrees Celsius and visibility is excellent ─ sometimes up to 60 metres.
The underwater world around Zanzibar is full of beautiful coral walls and vast reefs suitable for divers of all levels. Near Stone Town you will also find a number of wrecks that attract a rich diversity of fish and other sea life. Due to the relatively high temperature of the Indian Ocean there is little algae growth and the water is clear. Novice divers will feel most comfortable on the quieter west coast, whereas experienced divers will also enjoy exploring the east coast.
You do not have to go far to find beautiful dive sites. Just off the coast of Stone Town, the lively historical heart of Zanzibar Town, are several magnificent locations. The reefs of the islands of Murogo, Pange and Nyange are as packed as the city streets. The labyrinthine coral formations are home to large schools of colourful creatures, including stingrays, moray eels and pufferfish. The dive spots near Murogo are simply called Aquarium 1 and Aquarium 2, which says it all.
Bawe Island also boasts a beautiful reef. Its shallow location with a maximum depth of 18 metres makes it suitable for both advanced and novice divers. The wall of coral on the north side is a favourite hiding place for octopuses and with a little luck you may even encounter some sea turtles. Those who wish to make deeper dives can visit The Royal Navy Lighter, an imposing shipwreck inhabited by large groupers and moray eels.
“With luck you may encounter sea turtles and octopuses”
Near Mnemba Island, off Zanzibar’s rougher east coast, lies the so-called 'big wall'. This popular dive site for advanced divers towers 60 metres above the ocean floor and has a number of caves that are great to explore. From October to December a large population of whale sharks can be found in the waters around the island. An excellent opportunity for a close encounter with these huge fish that can grow up to 12 metres in length. Fortunately they are harmless.