Leaving the mainland for a while, maybe at the end of your safari, you can see Tanzania from another (incredible!) perspective: looking down, deep in the Indian Ocean.
This area can be proud, today, of a wide coral reef system extending along the coast and around the islands, which is growing and improving year after year thanks to the establishment of several marine parks.
Conservation of the marine biodiversity is essential for preserving the health of the Ocean environment, and is having a constistent return on the market of tourism as well: divers and people who mind about environmental awareness can find here a very interesting spot, valued by a number of well managed projects.
Here you are a selection of locations where it is possible to admire the coral reef, both for expert divers and snorkelers as hobby. A good hint for an unforgettable end of your holidays.
Coral reef in Zanzibar
Coral reef structures, mostly surrounding Unguja and Pemba, are very rich: amazing coral gardens and large gamefish (barracuda, kingfish, tuna and wahoo), Napoleonic wrasse, manta rays and sharks are quite common in these areas. Visibility is quite good (20 – 60 metres) and the year-round average water temperature of 27°C.
Pemba, the smaller island on the north side of Unguja in the archipelago of Zanzibar, is a little bit off the beaten tracks, but it is probably the most exceptional spot. Aside, we have Mnemba in front of Matemwe Beach: this is a small private island surrounded by coral reef.
Exceptional is Chumbe Island as well, officially recognized Reef Sanctuary since 1994: this is a privately managed protected area, but also a successful ecotourism project funded by the European Union and by the German Aid Agency, among many other donors. Last but not least, the Menai Bay Conservation Area: with its 470 square kilometres, this is Zanzibar’s largest marine protected area, a project started by WWF and later supported by USAID, the British Government and Switzerland.
Many diving centers are active in the Archipelago of Zanzibar, providing courses using the international PADI system of diver education, being suitable both for learners and for experts who want to ugrade their qualification – experienced scuba divers can enjoy exciting wall dives, night dives and drift dives.
Coral Reef in Mafia
Mafia archipelago consists of one large island (394 km²) and several smaller ones, often inhabited. The main town is Kilindoni and the protected marine area is located in Chole Bay.
Mafia was well known in the past because of spices production, but at present also because of its Marine Park funded by the WWF. The fauna and flora variety growing on and around this island is impressive: an exceptional spot for divers and environment passionates.
Great plus of this spot is the presence of whale sharks. If you’re visiting from October through March, you will have high chances of seeing and swimming next to them.
Coral reef on the Tanzanian coast
Bongoyo and Mbudya uninhabited islands, right near Dar Es Salaam, are little tropical paradises, good for a day round-trip. Especially during the week-end, many people living in Dar Es Salaam and tourists take a day off to get there.
Bongoyo and Mbudya are nice places for relax, snorkeling, sunbathing and to have a tasty outdoor lunch. This is an excellent idea if your trip includes a stopover in Dar Es Salaam, before leaving to safari… and you’re not really in the mood of staying in the town’s traffic jam!
Let’s close our list with a special location off the beaten track, but still very interesting especially for expert divers and passionates of natural reserves. Mnazi Bay and the Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park, in the southern Tanzania after Mtwara town, almost reaching the border with Mozambique.
The park includes the last 45 kilometres of coastline to the Ruvuma River, probably one of the best diving locations in Tanzania: you will see spectacular outer reef drop offs, extensive spur and groove formations, channel and patch reefs. Over 400 species of fish have been identified here, and over 258 species of coral.
Map of coral reef spots in Tanzania
Visualize Coral Reef in Tanzania and Zanzibar in the full screen map.