Free shore access
This spot have a free shore access: you can go snorkeling there freely and without having to book a tour or pay an entrance fee.
This spot has been added by
Last updated on August 5, 2023
Nungwi, once a quiet fishing village in the northwest of Zanzibar, is now one of the island’s main resorts. Numerous hotels line its white sandy beaches, very lively at sunset. The coral reefs along the coast are not very spectacular but shelter a surprisingly rich underwater life, which will delight reef fish and critters lovers: clownfish, starfish, ghost pipefish, cowfish, razorfish, crabs, shrimps and scorpionfish can be easily spotted on its shallow waters.
The recommended snorkeling area is just south of Nungwi village, between the Z Hotel in the north and Sandies Baobab Beach in the south. You can of course snorkel on a much larger area, but this is where the reef is the narrowest and most accessible.
You can easily reach this spot by foot from the surrounding hotels, by walking on the beach (at low tide) or by the promenade that crosses the different resorts and ends at the Z Hotel.
It is recommended to explore this spot at low tide, ideally 1 or 2 hours before slack water. This period offers the best snorkeling conditions: you can get into the water closer to the reef, and the water is shallower, which makes the observation of the underwater life from the surface easier.
It is also at low tide that the underwater visibility is at its maximum, and the sea is the calmest. Avoid snorkeling after 12, as there is dense boats and jet skis traffic in the area, sometimes at high speed and close to shore.
Enter the water from the beach, being careful with the numerous sea urchins (not always visible, like the dreaded flower urchin) found at shallow depths.
It is recommended to snorkel in a strip of about 200m long and 100m wide along the beach (see map). While snorkeling from the shore, you first cross sandy areas, which are gradually covered with scattered corals and small rocks.
You soon see small fields of long-spined urchins in which tiny threespot dascyllus hide, as well as many red-knobbed starfish (↕1-3ft/0,5-1m). Valentinni’s sharpnose puffer, yellow boxfish and (rarer) roundbelly cowfish come and go between the rocks.
You’ll have to reach the deeper areas to discover a more lively seabed (↕3-8ft/1-2,5m). Here, beautiful coral heads, covered with soft corals, anemones, sponges and clams of all kinds, bathe under the sun, attracting around them a cohort of reef fish. African coris, Moorish idols, trumpetfish, porcupinefish, damselfish, hawkfish and lionfish are particularly common.
Two species of anemonefish, the twobar clownfish and the skunk clownfish, abound in the sea anemones. They will delight underwater photographers, who may also be lucky enough to encounter pairs of robust ghost pipefish or jointed razorfish. In the sand, try to spot a lizardfish or a small sole, which master perfectly the art of camouflage.
At about 100 meters from shore, a sandy slope slides into the blue. A few heads and pinnacles, teeming with life, are found in some places (↕9-14ft/3-5m), but can only be really explored by skin/freedivers.
This spot usually offers a very calm sea, with no waves. Visibility is average to good, more cloudy when the tide comes in. Some days, the currents bring down many small jellyfish along the coast, making snorkeling very unpleasant.
Many hotels and restaurants are available in this area of Nungwi. The closest are the Z Hotel, the Sandies Baobab Beach and the Nungwi Inn Cottage, located in front of the spot. Several beach restaurants can offer lunch after a morning snorkeling session.
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.
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