The northeastern peak of Zanzibar around the Mnemba island.is the best for scuba diving. I recommend an accommodation in Matemwe and a resort like Kena (previously Azanzi) beach hotel with an onsite dive center. this would be a perfect scuba vacation set up. Kena (Azanzi) is a luxury boutique hotel best for relaxed dive vacations. The dive sites around Mnemba island are the best for all dive experience levels. There is a good chance for dolphin sighting and great macro coral reef photography. The visibility is minimum 20 meter and the water temperature hovers conveniently around 27°C.
Arrival at Zanzibar island
The archipelago of Zanzibar stretches around 80 km along the coast of Tanzania. The international airport (IATA: ZNZ) in the capital Stonestone is the main gateway to Zanzibar. The airport connects Zanzibar directly to central Europe, Kenya and the Middle East. I actually arrived with a local small propeller plan from Arusha in the Serengeti to end to safari with a couple of days scuba diving. From my experience the best dive spots on Zanzibar are around Mnemba island located off the northeast peak. By car it takes around 1.5 hrs to Matemwe village and Kena (previously Azanzi) beach hotel.
My Zanzibar dive resort impression
Kena (Azanzi) beach hotel commodities
Kena claims itself a “luxury boutique hotel” and it really keeps the promise. The resort is cozy and accommodates 35 rooms and villas. The dive resort is located directly at the beach with Scubafish an onsite 5* PADI dive center. The pool sets up the center of the resort with villas, a restaurant and the pool bar around. A lounge and the main restaurant on the upper floor are connecting over pool. Live music, entertainment and sunset makes the bar a very nice romantic place.
I booked one of the 6 stylish deluxe villas which are very roomy and have high bamboo ceilings. The spacious ensuite bathroom has an open air shower. And on the small terrace you were almost at the pool but also a bit private behind some bushes and plants. The hotel’s beach and garden are beautifully designed with lounges and shades around bushes and palm trees. This is definitely a boutique hotel as for me friendliness, relaxation and coziness are in the best sense luxury.
The air temperature in Zanzibar is throughout the year around 25°C to 29°C. Just during the month of April to May a stronger rain is a bit disturbing. During my stay there in June it was dry with rarely some drops of rain and a mild breeze made it conveniently tempered.
My scuba diving experiences
How is Mnemba island dive sites?
Mnemba is a private high-end hotel island off the northeastern tip of the Zanzibar archipelago. The island is surrounded by a stunning coral reef and the best area for scuba diving. It is a declared to a Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area (MIMCA). Diving conditions vary upon the side of the island and the tide.
Mnemba is one of these rare spots with a good chance to scuba dive with dolphins. In one of my dives dolphins approached us a couple of minutes into the dive on 25 meter and we were lucky enough to have them swimming around us for a while.
Generally the reefs are still in good conditions with lot of marine life like turtles or stingrays are a common encounter. Encounters with reef sharks are rare and if you need to be lucky enough to see a whale shark. With the great visibility a perfect spot for marco underwater photography.
How was the scuba diving?
Scubafish is a well organized and structured dive center. The team is friendly and it feels like family. With the pool in the mid of the hotel the dive center is well equipped for PADI trainings. The wooden dive boat is spacious and it is very refreshing opposed to all the typical GRP laminated dive boats. I was diving with rental equipment and it was in a well maintained condition. The only caveat would be the reef crest. During low tide the water level is too low to cross it and you need to jump on a shuttle to board the boat in the northern tip of the island.
Diving at Mnembe island is a year-round activity, the water temperature is stable at 27°C. That means for me a 3 mm wetsuit dive. And the visibility is always brilliant with a minimum of 20 to 40 meter. Around the Mnembe island you can experience drift dives. The stronger current is a perfect set up for pelagic encounter. Moreover you also have easy slopes like Wattabomi, very suitable for beginner. Kichwani Wall a coral wall