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Last updated on February 6, 2024
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overnight visitors have a full board. Day visitors enjoy lunch on the island, included in the tour price.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Shallow lagoon with a diversity of reef fish and invertebrates
Free shore access
Shallow reef flat with sea stars
Free shore access
Fringing coral reef with colorful fish
Shallow coral beds with reef fish and sea stars
Vibrant coral reef with turtles, rays and tropical fish
Shallow seagrass beds dotted with rocks and coral patches