With spectacular deep-sea fishing, boasting record breaking catches, Zanzibar is a fisherman’s paradise.
Superb deep-sea fishing is possible all year around with marlin, sail fish, tuna, barracuda and trevally running deep. Deep-sea fishing in the Zanzibar archipelago is an experience to be savoured. The Indian Ocean is rich in fish, with tuna and pelagics migrating through the Pemba Channel every year, with a continual supply of snapper, grouper and sharks. Imagine sailing through deep blue waters, the sun on your back as you wrestle a 30kg dorado or yellow fin tuna on board.
There are a number of private companies and tour operators specialising in deep-sea fishing offering fishing safaris for the dedicated angler. Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia islands are the most popular destinations in Tanzania for deep-sea fishing. Customised boats have light and heavy tackle, electronics, GPS and safety equipment for the serious fisherman. Excursions usually last for a day, with boats bringing you and your catch back to your hotel in time for dinner. Liveabroad options are also available. If you’re after an authentic Zanzibari experience, you can head out on the water with a fisherman in a dhow or a ngalawa canoe and see how the locals do it.
Diving in Zanzibar is a magical experience as you find yourself in crystal clear tropical water, amongst unspoilt corals, shoals of fish darting through the reefs, sea turtles gliding through the water and schools of barracuda circling overhead. Zanzibar has something to offer divers of all levels. The dive sites around the Zanzibar archipelago rival those found in the Red Sea and deservedly place Zanzibar on the international map as a diving destination.
There are 17 PADI dive centres throughout the country, with skilled instructors and dive masters equipped with world-class equipment and a number of liveabroads offering trips to Mafia, Pemba and Unguja. In case of any accidents, there’s a fully operational decompression chamber in Zanzibar, which opened in 2006. The best diving is generally between October and February, when visibility can be up to 30 metres.
Zanzibar is home to the world famous Mnemba Atoll, a protected marine park with some of the best diving in East Africa. Hawksbill and Green turtles rest on top of plate corals oblivious to hovering divers snapping pictures. Lionfish hide beneath the reef, Moorish Idols dart through the corals and Clown Fish dance possessively around anemones. Turn to the sky and watch hundreds of fish, schooling and circling through the water, yellow snappers a vivid contrast to the blue of the water. It’s not uncommon to see White Tip Reef sharks in the ocean and divers are sometimes lucky enough to have a pod of dolphins as an escort on the way back to the dive centre and can sometimes catch a glimpse of humpback whales with their calves.
Pemba is a treasure trove of marine life and is a better suited diving location for experienced divers due to strong currents, making most dives drift dives. Pemba’s corals are pristine. Misali Island, once a hideout of Captain Kidd is now a marine conservation area, rich in biodiversity, with over 40 different species of coral, 350 different species of fish and 5 different species of sea turtles. Out on the reefs, black snappers school around Coral Mountain, eagle rays and manta rays glide through the water with deadly grace, while lobsters and octopus peer out at inquisitive divers from coral shelves. Green turtles perch on cabbage coral and hammerhead sharks have been spotted coming in with the tide.
Mafia Island became Tanzania’s first Marine Park in 1995 and the diving is here astonishingly beautiful. Most of Mafia’s best dives are at depths of less than 30 metres, making it accessible to less experienced divers. There are over 400 different species of fish with many more yet to be identified. Kinasi Pass and the Pinnacle are a must if you come to Tanzania to dive, giant silvery barracuda swarm around you, shoals of reef fish populate the coral like colourful confetti, huge moray eels lie in wait to ambush prey and rays soar through the water. Between November and March, there’s the annual whale shark migration, giving divers and snorkelers a chance to see the world’s largest fish up, close and personal.
They can live to up to a 100 years, growing up to 13 metres long and weighing up to 13 tonnes. It’s a true test of nerves to come face to face with these huge creatures. Look beyond the mountains and safaris and come and explore Tanzania’s underwater world, which offers huge surprises, a fabulous adventure and immense diversity to rival anything found on the surface.