The tropical weather of the island sets the perfect conditions and makes this the ideal destination for snorkelers all year around. The optimal time to snorkel, though, is during the “long dry season,” which is from June to October. Either way, don’t overthink it if you can’t visit during that time, as tropical weather is unpredictable and even if it’s raining, the experience of snorkeling is irreplaceable.
There are many spots to snorkel around the island, but here a few that you shouldn’t miss!
On this private island, it isn’t possible to actually walk ontoit – instead, you swim and snorkel around it (as it tends to be with protected islands). That being said, Nmeba Atoll is one of the most popular places to snorkel in Tanzania and with good reason.
Here, you’ll easily spot all kinds of marine wildlife: colorful fish (such as clownfish), eels, enormous sea stars, turtles, and even dolphins!
Yes, there’s a great chance that’ll see dolphins while snorkeling here and even swim with them. You’ll also see a vast coral reef that will take you from the deeper areas of the ocean to the shallower parts next to the island.
Nmeba atoll is in the northeast of the island, so it’s really convenient for those staying on the east side of the island – especially in places like Matemwe and surrounding areas.
Oh, and one last thing: This spot is also perfect for divers!
For those staying in Nungwi, a fantastic place to snorkel is Tumbatu Island, because it’s located on the northwest side of the Zanzibar island and is only 2 km away from the coast.
This is probably the second-most visited snorkeling spot but is less crowded than the previously-mentioned Mnemba Atoll.
Tumbatu Island is well known for its vivid coral garden and banks of fishes.
Chumbe Island Coral Park
The next options are great for those staying in the capital, Stonetown, or those staying on the west side of the island (and that don’t have enough time to reach the other side of Zanzibar).
Chumbe Coral Park is known for its coral diversity – more than 200 coral species exist here (90% of the coral diversity in East Africa!). It’s also home to hundreds of fishes living around this island.
And for those interested, note that scuba diving is not allowed on this island.
Prison island is a famous stop to visit when you’re in Zanzibar – not just because of its water, but because of the history of this island, given that it was used as a prison in the 19th century.
Aside from this, Prison Island is also known for its gigantic tortoises that originate from Seychelles. And, since you’re already on the island, why not take the opportunity to explore its underwater life?