Liveaboards are a must for any diver seriously wanting to explore the sites around Pemba Island.
The seas can be unpredictable in the Pemba Channel affecting visibility.
If you are unfit, not a strong swimmer or not confident about diving in 4 knot currents, think twice before getting in Pemba's eastern waters.
Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the whole country below 1800m. Prevention recommended.
BE AWARE: Lariam (mefloquine) is an anti-malarial drug used in regions of the world where chloroquine resistant falciparum malaria is prevalent. e.g. East Africa, South East Asia. Possible side effects of lariam such as dizziness, blurred vision and a disturbed sense of balance are common and could cause problems for divers. These effects can often imitate or even worsen the symptoms of DCI. There could also be confusion between the side effects of lariam and the symptoms of DCI or nitrogen narcosis resulting in a misleading diagnosis.
Inoculations: Typhoid, hepatitis A, diphtheria, yellow fever. Take advice before travelling.
Tropical along the coast, temperate in the highlands
Flooding on the central plateau in the rainy season; drought
Year round, best October to March
For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.
Most likely sightingsPossible sightings
Tanzania is in East Africa and bordered by Kenya and Uganda on the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique on the south. To the east it borders the Indian Ocean. And where exactly is that?
It has massive game parks, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater ; and the diving doesn't disappoint either; remote and little visited. It is busier in the north but relatively undiscovered in the south and offers a range of diving experiences.
Tanzania, has three main diving islands – Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia, but all are surrounded by a host of smaller islands that offer quiet getaways or exclusive retreats. These are often collectively called the Spice Islands.
To the north, the Zanzibar archipelago includes Unguja (generally called Zanzibar) and Pemba, while further to the south is Mafia Island, part of which has been protected as Mafia Island Marine Park.
Of these, Zanzibar is probably the most visited and has a good choice of dive centres and sites, including a number of recognised Conservation areas. It is also home to the historical sultanate capital of Stone Town, which has been classified as a World Heritage site.
To the north, Pemba island is more remote and some of its diving can be challenging. It too has recognised marine Conservation Areas, as well as ancient forests, Arabic ruins and possibly a more restful feel than Zanzibar.
Further south, Mafia Island has a number of dive operators both in- and out-side the Marine Park. The surrounding small islands make great day-trips, and the island is known for its visiting whale sharks between November and February.
On the mainland, diving starts in the north from Pangani (just south of Tanga and the border with Kenya) and continues down the coast with diving available in Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam, Kilwa and finally Mtwara. Just south of Mtwara is also the Mnazi-Bay Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park which extends from Mtwara south to the border with Mozambique.
The south is widely regarded as one of the unexplored gems of Western Indian Ocean diving. The underwater landscape is characterised by huge rock Monoliths and a coast that rapidly drops off to over 200m resulting in occasional surprises from the deep.
It is also the point at which the Southern Equatorial Current reaches the coast of Africa and splits to head north to towards Zanzibar or south into the Mozambique channel. Consequently, it provides a truly unique diving experience in one of the most diverse marine environments on the Tanzania coast.
Finally Tanzania has the distinction of offering lake diving as well on Lake Tanganyika.
[Thanks to Oliver Payne for the photograph]
In 2006, the Pemba Channel Conservation Association (PECCA) was set up to protect the entire western coast of Pemba island. Offshore sites are drift dives as the oceanic current never stops flowing.
Mafia - pristine coral and marine life protected inside the Mafia Island Marine Park. See whale sharks from November to January. Home to at least two greatly endangered species; the docile dugong (manatee or sea cow) is still thought to find refuge cruising the seagrass between Mafia and the Rufiji River Delta, and the small islands around the archipelago remain a popular breeding ground for leatherback and green turtles.
The Songo Songo Archipelago for fabulous reefs and little tourism.