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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.

Snorkelers exploring Mnemba Island's reef
Snorkelers at Mnemba coral reef, with the island in the background.

How to get to the Mnemba Island snorkeling spot

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.

Mnemba Island snorkeling map, Zanzibar

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.

Water entrance for snorkeling Mnemba Island

You will enter the water from the boat. Make sure to follow your guide’s instructions.

Mnemba Island’s reef snorkeling tips

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.

Mnemba Island's coral reef
Mnemba Island’s coral reef.

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.

Skunk anemonefish in Mnemba Island
The skunk anemonefish is, with the twobar anemonefish, one of the two clownfish species living in Zanzibar coastal waters.

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.

School of snappers at Mnemba Island
A school of Bengal snappers at the foot of the reef.

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.

Snorkeler among sergeants in Mnemba
Sergeants abound under the surface of the water.

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.

Restaurants and accommodation on Mnemba Island

The only accommodation on the island is the sublime &Beyond Mnemba Island. Day tours generally include lunch.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a boat
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

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.