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Zanzibar Dive Sites - Zanzibar, Africa

Zanzibar Dive Sites
Our partner diving centre, Buccaneer Diving is located in Paje on the wonderful South East coast of Zanzibar Island. Away from the overcrowded beaches of Kiwengwa, Nungwi, and Kendwa, Paje is renown for its stunning beaches, unspoilt village life, small sized guesthouses and lodges. The stretch reaching from Kizimkazi, on the south point of island, famous for dolphin spotting, through to the eastern tip of Chwaka bay, is often referred to as 'the secret coast' of Zanzibar. Here you will experience the real character of the island - untouched by mass tourism. However, there are still a variety of bars, evening hangouts, restaurants and regular nightlife around Paje to enjoy.

The diving around Paje is pristine with some of the finest corals to be found in East Africa. The protected natural lagoon which is only ten minutes boat ride from the Buccaneer Diving base at the Arabian Nights hotel is a great choice for all levels of divers and accompagning snorkellers and it also means that we can offer a number of good safe and protected dives in the rougher monsoon and in general for beginners. The lagoon also is an ideal spot for nightdives.

In addition there are a number of sites on the outer reef within a 25-minute fast boat ride from the centre offering a wide variety of topography ranging from walls, gentle slopes to caves and exciting marine life, some also suitable for beginners and some of which accessible only to more expert divers. There are also dives available from the south of the island at Kizimkazi . Renowned for its dolphins and idyllic sand banks, a day's diving followed by a seafood lunch is a must. There are also day trips to the atoll of Mnemba, located in a marine park that is a great location both diving and snorkelling.

The Weather Conditions
East Africa is very much subject to the trade winds that blow along the coast. Generally the best times for diving are October through to December and February through to late March with visibility up to 30m. The diving in August and September can be good in Paje and if the weather conditions do get rough there are a number of very good lagoon dives on offer.

Some Common Marine Life
Some of the fish you can expect to see at all sites are varieties of wrasse, angelfish, lionfish, scorpion fish, nudibranches, leaf fish, stingrays, sea cucumbers, snake eels, trumpet fish, moray eels, groupers, jackfish and more.

In the gardens and walls outside the reef we also find bigger fish like king fish, yellow fin tuna, barracudas, potato grouper, reef sharks, turtles, napoleon wrasse and from time to time dolphins and in season whale shark & humpback whales.

Here is a guide to some of the best diving sites from Paje, Zanzibar courtesy of Buccaneer Diving Centre.

Dive Sites Inside the Reef
There are 3 sites within the reef just 10 - 15 minutes boat ride from our base in Paje. Because the lagoon is within the barrier reef it is protected fro the elements and is an ideal dive site when the seas are rough. When the water gets colder and the sea more rough outside the reef, we will also see squid, jackfish and even the occasional schools of small barracuda and reef shark.

The Lagoon Depth: 6 - 18 metres
It is an excellent beginner dive as well as being perfect for the first dive trip of the holiday.
Common sightings include: nudibranches, leaf fish, snake eels, pipefish, big schools of bat fish, scorpion and lion fish, puffers and trumpet fish. This is the site where we often start training for underwater photography and uw videography courses.

Lagoon Mounding Depth: 6 - 16 metres
Beautiful inner reef dive site with varied marine life and a stunning coral landscape, quite similar to Lagoon. This site is where we usually run our regular night dives as the likelihood of seeing the stunning Spanish dancers in addition to other nocturnal species is very high.

Stingray City Depth: 18 metres
This dive is conducted along the wall inside the lagoon and culminates in Stingray city where chances are high to see dozens of Blue Spot Stingrays in addition to the same species found at the lagoon and lagoon mounding.

Dive Sites Outside the Reef from Paje
Dive boats in the South East region of Zanzibar access the outside reef sites through gaps in the barrier reef called ‘Mlangoes’ (Swahili for door). The mlango we usually use to get outside the reef is located by the lagoon, about 10 minutes fast boat drive from our dive base. The sites as listed below are located 5-20 minutes from the mlango and are all generally run as drift dives.Fish life outside the reef includes: napoleon fish, groupers, morays, lobsters and jack fish. Sometimes we also have dolphins, turtles and kingfish and in season we can often observe humpback whales. The currents outside will take us north or south so usually you can enjoy a leisurely dive over the gardens and alongside the walls.

Cement Wall Depth: 12 - 35 metres
Site named after a ship that in the 1930`s lost it’s cargo of cement, here we still find 3 enormous anchors during the dives, one of which is set in front of a small cave in addition to spectacular colors and rich marine life. Either we dive across the garden or alongside the wall, making it suited for all levels of certification.

Sau Inn Garden Depth: 6 - 20 metres
A stunningly beautiful garden of assorted corals with amazing colors and a plentitude of fish. A great second dive of the day as much of it is conducted at a depth of less than 10 Metres. Keep your eye out for leaf fish and the occasional ribbon eel.

The Big Cave Depth: 12 - 25 metres
A cave at 25 m where you in addition to the species mentioned previously, are more likely to find large moray, groupers and large lobsters. The site has very beautiful coral with plenty of fish. We drop by the wall that leads us to the cave and finish the dive in a coral garden.

Barracuda Point Depth: 10 - 25 metres
The dive starts with a drop onto a bed and follows it’s slope to about 20 m. It is a vast coral garden with mounds and overhangs that shelter a variety of shellfish and some of our more shy reef fish.

Powoni North, Powoni Hill, Powoni South Depth: 12 - 30 metres
Three divesites within 20 minutes of our base with particular magnificent table corals, normally crowded –among other species – by sweet lips and unicornfish, keep on throwing an eye in the blue for occasional pelagics.

Powoni Cave Depth: 15 - 30 metres
This sites characteristic is a gentle slope full of corals with a stunning overhang, among other species a lot of moray eels can be found here.

Napoleon Wall Depth: 12 - 35 metres
Spectacular drop off that has its name from the resident napoleon wrasse in addition to stunning soft and hard corals, you will find a wide number of species among which various moray eels.

Giant grouper Wall Depth: 12 - 28 metres
As the name said this is a wall dive, during which we can see a lot of groupers, in particular, potato groupers and with some luck we will spot some pelagic in the blue.

Woo North and South Depth: 12 - 30 metres
Spectacular soft and hard corals landscape with a lot of microlife, stunning colours . this site is a must for underwater photographers.

This is at the mouth of the mlango (Swahili for door) wonderfull coral and with luck bigger fish (sometimes here we see white and black tip reef sharks)

Other dive locations available with Buccaneer Diving to are located further north towards the area of Dongwe and Michamvi, with sites ranging from shallow lagoons to more difficult dives suited for more advanced divers
Special Full DayTrip to Mnemba Atoll
A full day trip including lunch and transfers to the launch basis in the north east of the island is available.

Mnemba Coral Garden Depth: 6 metres
Great for beginner divers and a shallow repetitive dive. The corals here almost reach the surface and harbour a myriad of marine creatures. For those of you with a keen eye, there are two resident giant Frogfish as well as Snake Eels and young Octopus!

Wattaboni Depth: 12 - 22 metres
Green Turtles abound! This dive features a sandy slope and fringing hard coral reef. Large Green Turtles come to rest here amongst the corals and as long as they are not approached too closely they seem quite indifferent to scuba divers. Also frequently seen here are Scorpion Fish, Octopus and many types of Moray Eels hiding in the holes along the reefs edge. Reef sharks have been spotted out in the blue and large Stingrays sometimes feed in the deeper waters. Suitable for all levels of diver.

Kichwani Depth Depth: 6 - 40 metres
A wall of hard and soft corals descends down into the depths from just a couple of metres below the surface. The marine life on this dive is simply breathtaking! Schooling fish feed in the shallow waters while larger predatory fish can be seen hunting in the blue. The macro life along the wall is vibrant and varied and includes many types of hard and soft coral, which provide homes for colourful creatures such as Lobster and Mantis Shrimp, Morays and Nudibranchs. There is also a large resident Napoleon Wrasse in the deeper waters. This dive is suitable for all levels.

Big Wall Depth: 14 - 40+ metres
As the name suggests, this site forms the Northeastern edge of the Mnemba Atoll. The wall itself is almost a kilometre long and has many interesting features and visitors! At a depth of 30m/100ft there are small caves and hollows where smaller reef and oceanic fish can shelter from predators and currents. Tuna, Trevally and Reef Sharks hunt in the deeper sections along the bottom of the wall. Manta Rays and Hammerheads have both been spotted in the blue water. Whalesharks cruise the area in season! Large Turtles keep the Morays and Lobsters company on the reef shelf. Best dived on a slack tide due to the presence of ocean currents. Suitable for Advanced and experienced divers only.

Dive Holidays Sportif

Sportif Dive is a specialist tour operator offering a wide range of diving holidays all over the world. Our choice of destinations is extensive from established locations in the Red Sea, Maldives, Caribbean and the Far East to the exotic and unusual such as Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean, Wakatobi, Truk, Palau, South America & the Pacific. Whether you are looking to for a Learn to Dive course, group expedition or trip of a lifetime we can help. With over 30 years experience and a personal approach, we can advise on the ideal location to suit your needs, at a price to suit your budget.

Our extensive knowledge of the destinations means we can recommend the right location for you. Our diving centres are selected for their excellent standards of service and safety. Whatever your priority, whether starting out or wishing to dive a technically challenging site we can recommend a range of options offering the best diving for when you wish to travel. We can organise all your travel arrangements for you, pre-book equipment and diving packages in advance to maximise your time when you get there.

As an independent tour operator, we select only the hotels, liveaboards and diving centres that offer the best standards and quality of service but at the right price. Without the overheads of a large mass market operator, we can offer the best value diving holidays often with great discounts and special offers.

Our consultants have many years experience in travel and are divers. They are able to closely match your needs and take time to recommend from a carefully selected range of accommodation and diving packages. With first hand knowledge, they are passionate about diving and travel and providing the perfect holiday for you.

Sportif also have a specialist multisport division offering instruction and rental packages for windsurfing, kitesurfing and surfing. Our specialist centres are located in some of our diving resorts, often minutes from the Dive Centre for easy coordination of activities. Packages offered included taster and learn to right through to intensive coaching weeks up to expert level. Children can start from 8 years.

Sportif Dive are an ATOL bonded operator which means that every element of your holiday is secure. With the worry of disruption to your holiday plans from weather disruption or airline failure you can be sure that we will be there to help every step of the way.