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Chumbe Island is a small, privately managed marine park located off the coast of Stone Town, on the west coast of Zanzibar. The number of visitors is restricted by the park, allowing the preservation of the coral reef which borders the west side of the island. Above intact corals, butterflyfish, anemonefish, angelfish, and occasional sharks, rays and turtles can be encountered.

View over the reef from Chumbe Island lighthouse
Chumbe Island lighthouse offers a great view over the bungalows, the beach and the reef.

How to go snorkeling a the Chumbe Island Coral Park?

Chumbe Island is a small island located off Stone Town, Zanzibar. The island is private and managed by the Chumbe Island Coral Park. The island is accessible only by boat, in two ways:

  • By staying overnight in one of the 7 bungalows installed on Chumbe Island. More information on the Chumbe Island Coral Park website.
  • By a day trip (9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.). The park limits the number of day visitors, and day tours can only be booked through the Chumbe Island Coral Park. The day tour costs $120 per person and includes lunch and activities. More details on day visits here.

The boat to Chumbe Island departs at scheduled times from Jungle Paradise Beach Resort & Spa, located near the airport, about a 15-minute drive south of Stone Town.

Chumbe Island Coral Park snorkeling map, Zanzibar

Water entrance for snorkeling the Chumbe Island Coral Park

As a light current generally occurs from south to north, the recommended water entrance is from the island’s small beach, just south of the visitor center. Entering the water from the beach, you will have to swim for a few minutes to reach the reef. Snorkeling is only permitted at low tide, as waves and strong currents can occur at high tide.

Another option is to enter the water from a boat: the resort offers one boat trip per day, included in the price of the stay or the excursion.

Chumbe Island Coral Park snorkeling exploration tips

The recommended snorkeling area at Chumbe Island is the coral reef which extends all along the west coast of the island. Depending on the tides, the reef is located at a distance of 100 to 200 meters from the shore.

The coral reef at Chumbe Island
The coral reef at Chumbe Island.

Between the beach and the reef is a shallow reef flat, covered in place with seagrass and small coral (↕1-3 feet/0.5-1 meter). This marine environment is pretty poor, but you can still spot small fish and invertebrates.

The reef itself is much more lively and colorful (↕3-12 feet/1-4 meter). It showcases healthy coral and exceptional reef fish diversity, including surgeonfish, sweetlips, groupers, wrasse, many species of butterflyfish, as well as skunk anemonefish.

Bluespotted ribbontail ray at Chumbe Island
A bluespotted ribbontail ray at Chumbe Island.

Chumbe Island is also one of the best snorkeling spots in Zanzibar to spot angelfish. At least three species call the reef home: the goldtail angelfish, the emperor angelfish and the regal angelfish.

Blue-spotted rays and small sharks are quite often encountered at Chumbe Island, both on the flats and the slopes. Turtles occasionally visit this location, and more exceptionally dolphins pass in the blue along the reef.

Goldtail angelfish at Chumbe Island
The goldtail angelfish is one of the angelfish species you may spot in the marine park.

Chumbe Island is also worth a visit for its lighthouse, which offers a superb view of the island, and for its land wildlife, which includes birds, coconut crabs, snakes, and geckos.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Overnight visitors have a full board. Day visitors enjoy lunch on the island, included in the tour price.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaChumbe Island Coral Park
  • Maximum depth12 ft/4 meters on the reef
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach or a boat
  • Potential DangersStingrays, sea urchin, scorpionfish
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsOvernight stay on the island, or day tour ($120 per person)
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.