With The Spice Islands Tour behind us, today I want to tell you about two sea excursions in Zanzibar I think should definitely be on your bucket list. The first is Mnemba Atoll, a marine reserve near Mnemba Island. The atoll is teeming with wildlife and is considered one of the best regions for diving / snorkelling in all of Zanzibar.
Mnemba is a private island, located on the Northeast coast of Zanzibar Island (where we stayed) that a really rich guy has purchased.
The Island is home to the &Beyond Mnemba Island Lodge, and although for most travellers a stay at this hotel is not possible, the large circular reef (Mnemba Atoll) that surrounds the island is opened for exploration.
James, our captain. took us out to Mnemba Atoll for $50 (R750) for three hours. We snorkeled at this insanely beautiful and pristine spot for a while. I asked him if we could stop on the island so that I go to the ladies room and he proceeded to tell me that if we were to do such a thing the fine would be $1500!
So, holding that pee in, we jumped out his boat and went exploring with him as he lead us to the reef.
James was like Steve Irwin and was able to freedive all the way down, leaving Shaun and I dumbfounded and in disbelief, as we watched him record this cinematic National Geographic style video for us.
My top tips:
- Ask your hotel to book a tour to Mnemba Atoll, or if you want to try and get a cheaper price, walk out onto the beach and I guarantee you that within 5 minutes you will have a guide approach you to offer you his tour guide services – then you can compare
- Remember to barter down as much as you can. Our trip could have been cheaper (it was $50) if we had just booked with James himself, but we also had to pay our tour organiser on the beach too – so sometimes it pays just to walk straight up to a boat and see if you can locate it’s captain
- If you are staying on the east side, like we were, this trip will be significantly cheaper in taxi and boat costs, so bear that in mind if the Atoll is on your to do list
- You can also dive at Mnemba Atoll, just book with one of the many PADI outlets
My second recommendation – The Safari Blue Tour, in traditional hand-built wooden dhows.
This All-Day tour includes guided snorkelling with kit, dhow sailing, swimming in a mangrove lagoon, a very large seafood buffet, entertainment, massive tropical fruit tasting and true Zanzibar hospitality.
As you motor through the most stunningly beautiful ocean, you make your way to a Mangrove Lagoon, where you get to swim for the first time on the trip.
The water is tranquil, calm and clear and is shallow enough to touch the ground. (tide dependant)
The Safari Blue team then set off to Menai Bay, which is a conservation area located on the south-west part of the island. We snorkeled for a good two hours and even spotted dolphins – in our case fleeting dolphins – so no pictures.
You then make your way to the ‘Safari Blue Island’ where you are welcomed with a hearty seafood buffet – which may not look gourmet – but certainly fills the gap. You can wash it down with the local Kilimanjaro beer, or a fresh fruit juice.
After lunch, you get to chill on the beach for two hours, which we found very relaxing. There are beach vendors too, should you wish to shop, as well as a very ancient baobab to marvel at.
We fell asleep on the beach and were woken by our captain calling us to come back to the boat.
Our final stop was to the disappearing island, a powdery white sandbank that comes and goes with the rising and falling tide – so timing is everything when stopping here. We jumped out the boat for one last swim.
After a very full day of activities, it was time to head back to Fumba to our taxi. But The Safari Blue team had one last trick up their sleeves.
You see on the way there, the Dhow boat is powered by motor, which is of course practical, but a tiny bit noisy. So, to give you a true Zanzibar experience on the way back, they open the sails and you enjoy a slow sail home into the sunset…
Safari Blue, thank you for such a special experience that I will remember for a lifetime to come.
My Top Tips:
- The most important piece of advice I can give you – DO NOT BOOK THIS TOUR THROUGH ANYONE ELSE BUT SAFARI BLUE, because it will be marked up significantly. Email the owner directly – Info@safariblue.net or visit them here
- Safari Blue are the best and have been around since 1993. While I am not saying you shouldn’t book with other guides, keep in mind there are many people who have tried to copy Safari Blue and operate with the same name, so you might not experience the same quality Safari Blue provide
- The tour is not cheap – coming in at $170 for 2 people, but this price included all drinks and food and our taxi fare and we stayed very far from Fumba (where you disembark from)
- Bring a towel from your hotel, sunscreen, good quality flip flops and a light jersey in case you feel a little cold on the way back
- Bring sea sickness tablets (I personally didn’t need – but I gave two other naseous girls who were very grateful)
Next up on the blog – A Tour to Stone Town and Prison Island.