The Best Diving In Tanzania
Spend two weeks embracing island life on the laidback islands of Mafia and Pemba, being seduced by unspoiled, deserted beaches and turquoise lagoons, swimming with whale sharks and experiencing the varied and pristine diving in Mafia Island Marine Park and the Pemba Channel.
Itineraries at a Glance:
- Snorkel with the gentle giant whale sharks off Mafia Island
- Dive in Tanzania's first marine park, Mafia Island Marine Reserve
- Experience some of East Africa's most pristine and varied diving in the Pemba Channel
- Sail into the sunset, cocktail in hand, on a serene sunset dhow cruise
- Embrace East African charm in two intimate, serene beachfront boltholes
Why Book with Original Diving?
When To Travel
All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you
Day 1: International Flight
Your overnight flight leaves for Tanzania, transitioning through East Africa or the Middle East en route. Depending on where you transition, the flight will take around 14 hours.
Day 2: Arrive in Tanzania
Your flight lands into Dar es Salaam airport in the morning. On arrival at the airport, once you have cleared customs, you will need to proceed to the domestic terminal for your flight on to Mafia Island, which will take half an hour.
Once you have been handed your luggage off the plane, you will pass through the terminal (it's a shack really so not too arduous) where you will be met by your driver and privately transferred to paradise. En route you will pay the marine park fee for the duration of your stay ($24 per day).
With only seven thatched bungalows nestled among swaying coconut palms, Pole Pole is an intimate, peaceful eco-retreat in a serene beach-side setting. Spend the afternoon relaxing, whether soothing any residual aches in the spa or taking a leisurely stroll along the beach. You will be spending the next six nights here.
Day 3: Pole Pole
Have a lazy morning lie-in before heading out to explore the island.
One of the most southerly islands on the Tanzanian coast, Mafia Island is a sleepy, tropical island boasting white sand beaches flanked by lush vegetation (think: coconut palms, mango, papaya and cashew trees) and calm aquamarine waters. Spend the day getting familiar with your surroundings, whether taking a traditional dhow boat to a remote, deserted sandbank or sunbathing back at the resort.
In the afternoon, head to the north of the island to visit the Ras Mkumbi lighthouse; the journey there takes you through small villages and past ancient baobab trees - look out for some of the 120-odd different species of tropical birds that call this island home. The Lighthouse itself offers spectacular views across a beach that stretches in both directions towards the calm ocean.
Arrive back at the hotel in time for a shower and sundowners before tucking into a delicious supper overlooking the bay.
Day 4: Pole Pole
This morning it's time to venture underwater as you head out to dive Mafia Island Marine Park.
The marine park is home to a staggering amount of marine life with over 460 species of fish identified (so far) and 50 genera of coral, from giant table corals to sea fans and blue-tipped staghorn corals. All of which can be found at depths less than 30 metres, providing a haven for divers and snorkellers alike. Visit between October and February and you'll also have the chance to snorkel with the gentle giant whale shark.
Spend your surface interval snacking on fresh fruit on a deserted sandbank before heading back below the waves. In the afternoon, relax back at your villa before setting sail on a traditional dhow boat to watch the sunset over the horizon.
Days 5-7: Pole Pole
Spend the next few days alternating between channelling your inner beach bum, exploring the island and diving the marine park.
A visit to Juani Island is definitely worth the trip to see the eerie ruins of the ancient Swahili city of Kua and its resident wild pigs, small antelopes and chattering monkeys. Head to the south of the island after to cool off in the crystal-clear waters of the blue lagoon.
- Spend the day snorkelling on Kitutia Reef, home to some of the archipelago's most beautiful coral formations and distinctive white sandbanks. Bliss.
Day 8: Transfer to Pemba
After a leisurely breakfast it's time to pack up your bags as you depart for the next part of your adventure.
You will be privately transferred to the airstrip in plenty of time for your flight back to Dar es Salaam. From here you will change planes and fly on to Pemba, with a quick touchdown in Zanzibar en route. The whole journey takes around three hours.
Once you have collected your luggage, you will be met by your hotel representative and transferred to your hotel. Depending on which accommodation you pick, this will either involve a car transfer or car and boat transfer. The journey should be no longer than one and a half hours. Once you have checked into your room, relaxation is the order of the day. In the late afternoon, head down to the beach for sundowners before dining under the stars.
Day 9: Pemba Island
Grab your mask and fins and get ready for some of the best diving in East Africa.
The Pemba Channel is home to some of Africa's most pristine and varied corals (of which there are over 320 species). Add to that an incredibly diverse amount of marine life and no one else around for miles and you can see why we keep singing its praises.
In the afternoon, either opt to head back underwater or take a canoe trip to explore the wildlife hidden among the mangroves. In the evening, set out on a sunset dhow cruise and toast as you watch the sun duck behind the island.
Days 10-12: Diving Around Pemba
Spend the next couple of days exploring the different dive sites that pepper the archipelago.
To the south there are some superb dive sites but also the picturesque Emerald Lagoon, more often than not dotted with photogenic dhows. Be sure not to miss diving Mapanduzi, where you can drift along a wall and see barracuda coming in on the strong currents.
Surface intervals can be spent luxuriously marooned on deserted sandbanks, deep sea fishing, visiting local villages and exploring ancient fortresses - there is no danger of twiddling your thumbs here.
Day 13: Misali Island
On your final day in paradise spend a slovenly day on the beach or visit nearby Misali Island.
Located smack bang in the Pemba Channel Conservation Area, Misali is a great for snorkelling, while to land you can stroll down picturesque white sandbanks or wander inland to spot wildlife in the forestry.
In the evening take a final sunset dhow cruise or find a hidden corner of beach to sip on cocktails before indulging in a private dinner along the beach shore.
- Located in the north of Pemba, take a guided trip to the Ngezi Rainforest to spot tropical birds before enjoying a picnic lunch on a hidden beach.
Day 14: Home Time
Sadly, today you will have to leave this little paradise and make your way back home. Take a final dip in the sea or opt for an extra leisurely breakfast before you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Zanzibar.
Once you have arrived in Zanzibar, collect your bags and check-in for your flight to London Heathrow. Your flight will stop in either East Africa or the Middle East en route, taking around 14 and a half hours.
Day 15: Arrival Home
You flight arrives at London Heathrow early in the morning.
Jacqui is our expert for this itinerary and as a seasoned traveller they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.