written in collaboration with aurelie (3 spots)
You reach Mnemba Island by boat, mainly from Nungwi, which is a 1 hour 30 min drive from Stone Town. It takes about twenty minutes to reach the snorkeling spot from Nungwi. Mnemba Island is a privately owned island with access restricted to guests of the luxurious &Beyond Mnemba Island. Tour guides will drop you off directly at the reef, which lies a few hundred yards from the small island.
The full-day excursions (9am to 3pm) generally include a single snorkeling stop at Mnemba, as well as a lunch break on the beach and a chance to observe dolphins. You will have no trouble booking an excursion on the island. The price is about $60 per person, all inclusive.
You enter the water from the boat: follow your guide's instructions.
Mnemba Island is surrounded by an oval reef measuring several miles in diameter, and which is called by some (mistakenly) Mnemba Atoll. Most tour guides will drop you off in the area near the island, famous for its sea beds.
The depth of the water is the same in all the reef area (6-16ft/2-4m). You will find yourself above a reef of varying quality (some areas are wonderfully preserved, while others seem damaged by the area's high visitor numbers). The reef is protected and fishing is forbidden, so the density of fish here is higher than in many other places in Zanzibar. In turn you will come across shoals of dozens of Moorish idols, snappers, clownfish in their anemones and a host of other species. On the sea bed, look our for blue starfish, red-knobbed starfish or the fearsome crown-of-thorns starfish, a poisonous, coral-eating species. Green turtles can occasionally be seen at this spot, since they go to the island's beaches to lay their eggs at certain times of year.
Access to Mnemba Island is strictly reserved to guests at the hotel. If you set foot on the beach, you run the risk of paying a large fine. In any case, the island coast guards will warn you if you go within 200 yards of the shore.
This is the most popular snorkeling spot in Zanzibar and dozens of boats go there each day. Watch out for other snorkelers and swimmers when you are in the water.
Restaurants & accommodation
The only accommodation on the island is the highly luxurious &Beyond Mnemba Island. Unless you are ready to spend $1,000 per person per night to stay there (and set foot on the beach), you will have to do with a day's excursion to reach the island. Excursions generally include meals and drinks: ask your tour guide for details.
Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.
Type of spot
Level of difficultyBeginner
Maximum depth12ft (4m)
Water entranceEasy, from a boat
Potential DangersUsual precautions
Access costsExcursion price (approx. 50$ pp.)
Public toilets & showersNo