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Last updated on November 9, 2023
Mnemba Island, a small island laying off the northeastern coast of Zanzibar, is partially edged by a shallow coral reef. Listed as a marine reserve, Mnemba is the most popular snorkeling spot in Zanzibar. Moorish idols, palette surgeonfish, snappers and anemonefish are easy to spot at this location as they swim above a colorful, pretty display of corals.
Mnemba Island is reached by boat, mainly from Nungwi Beach and Muyuni pier. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the snorkeling spot from Muyuni pier, and 1 hour from Nungwi.
Mnemba Island is a private island with access restricted to guests of the sumptuous &Beyond Mnemba Island. Boats will drop you off directly at the reef, which lies a few dozen yards from the small island.
Full-day tours (approx. 9am to 3pm) generally include a single snorkeling stop at Mnemba, as well as a lunch break on a nearby beach and a chance to spot dolphins. The price is about $60pp., all-inclusive. Half-day tours, approx. 9am to 1pm, starts from $45pp. You will have no trouble finding a tour anywhere on the island.
You will enter the water from the boat. Make sure to follow your guide’s instructions.
The north coast of Mnemba Island is bordered by a long shallow coral reef, less than a mile in length. It is in this area, renowned for its (relative) coral health and its underwater visibility, that you will be dropped off.
The depth is constant in the whole snorkeling area (↕6-16ft). You will snorkel above a reef that is, overall, very pretty. Some areas of the reef are healthier than others. In very shallow depths, the coral is in poor condition. As the reef is protected and fishing is prohibited here, the density of fish is higher than in many other spots in Zanzibar.
Hundreds of Indo-Pacific sergeants and scissortail sergeants swim around the boats, frequently fed by the guides. A few palette surgeonfish, aka Dory, like to swim among them.
During your reef exploration, you will encounter schools of dozens of Bengal snappers, Moorish idols, clownfish in sea anemones, powder blue tang, as well as a multitude of other species.
On the seafloor, you may spot a blue sea star, a red-knobbed starfish, or even a crown-of-thorns starfish, a venomous species that preys upon hard coral polyps. Occasionally, green sea turtles are spotted on this spot.
Landing on Mnemba Island is for the hotel’s guests only. Don’t get too close to the shore.
This spot is the busiest in Zanzibar and dozens of boats go there every day, so watch out for boats and other snorkelers.
The only accommodation on the island is the sublime &Beyond Mnemba Island. Day tours generally include lunch.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
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.
Just make sure that they really bring you to the marine Resort. We hade major problems. They wanted to bring us to a dead reef close by. Probably you need a special permit. So better go with a good Company like “one ocean” for example and not with the beach boys.
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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 coral beds with reef fish and sea stars
Free shore access
Shallow reef flat with sea stars
Shallow lagoon with a diversity of reef fish and invertebrates
Free shore access
Vibrant coral reef with turtles, rays and tropical fish
Shallow seagrass beds dotted with rocks and coral patches
Sand and seagrass plateau with small coral and fish