Snorkelling in Mnemba Island
Mnemba island in Zanzibar offers some of the most incredible snorkelling, in the whole island.
Located about 4 kilometers to the northeast, it is surrounded by a massive coral formation measuring several kilometers in diameter and is listed as a marine reserve. This makes it the most sought-after snorkelling destination in Zanzibar.
How to reach Mnemba island
The island is accessible by boat mainly from Nungwi, which you reach after driving about 1 hour 30 minutes from Stone Town. From Nungwi you will take another 20 minutes to reach the snorkelling area.
Note that the island itself is privately owned so access to its beaches can be problematic. Access is restricted to guests resident to the island hotel. But the islands’ guards will warn you if you arrive within 200 meters to the shore.
However, Mmenba is still the most popular snorkelling destination in the island, and dozens of boats arrive here each day. Check out other snorkelers and swimmers while in the water.
A well-organized trip is not a problem as the island Zanzibar itself advertises it as a commercial snorkelling destination. The tour guides will deposit you at the reef which is only a few hundred yards from the island.
Snorkelling starts at 9 am and ends at 3 pm. Booking for a snorkelling excursion is easy on the island. It costs about $60 per person and includes snorkelling gear, boat transport, and lunch.
The island is surrounded by reef measuring several kilometers in diameter.
The water depth is the same around the reef area and measures about 4 meters deep. You may snorkel above a reef of varying quality as some areas have been damaged by frequent snorkelling while others are wonderfully preserved. Fishing is forbidden as the reef is a protected area, making the density of fish here much higher than many regions of the island. You will encounter dozens of snappers, Moorish idols, anemones, clownfish and a host of other species.
At the sea bottom, check out for red-knobbed starfish, blue starfish or the deadly and poisonous crown of thorns starfish.
On another side, you may encounter green turtles since they swim to the island beaches to lay eggs at different times of the year.