May 15, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
The shimmering white sands and glorious year-round temperatures make Tanzania a haven for beach lovers from around the world. For students from the UK who are doing their medical placement in Tanzania, this is the perfect place to indulge in some exciting island hopping and scuba diving at the nearby Zanzibar Islands. Imagine the bragging rights when you get back home!
The waters of the Indian Ocean along the coast of East Africa are clear, fresh and sparkling, the coral sands of the islands are white, powdery and soft and the marine life and coral reefs are thriving. In short, these island beaches are what you’ve always dreamed about and are too good to miss on a trip to the African continent.
Each of the islands has its own distinct allure – some are secluded and peaceful, others vibrant, colourful and noisy and still others offer great snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities. For some unparalleled snorkelling and scuba diving options, consider spending a day or two island-hopping in Zanzibar. Pemba, Mafia and Vamizi Islands that lie to the north and south of Zanzibar Island are simply spectacular, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced diver. Here are some of the major dive sites in the area:
Mafia Island Marine Park is the first of Tanzania’s official marine protection zones and is considered by many to be the best area for diving on the island with an assorted variety of dives adding to the excitement. You can choose from cave diving, bouldering, wall diving and drifts. This is generally the first choice for most keen divers.
Pemba Island to the north of Zanzibar is another exciting dive destination to head to if you are a keen diver. It is better known for the larger fish shoals that tend to populate these waters. It will give a medium to advanced diver plenty to stay occupied for at least a week if not more.
Mnemba Island is really a small atoll with a sandy bottom. It has a shallow wall dive that goes down to about 18 meters and is a popular destination for beginner divers. Despite its small size, it has quite an impressive coral cover along with some of the best garden reefs of any of the dive sites in and around the island.
Another interesting area to dive is off the western side of the island in the channel between the mainland and Zanzibar. While you may not get too many reef diving opportunities here, lots of sunken wrecks strewn around the ocean bed offer plenty of excitement and more than make up for the lack of coral reefs. This is channel diving though, and as expected, there is slightly more current to contend with.