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If the coral reefs of Zanzibar are widely known for their abundance of sea stars, you will rarely see as many of these cute creatures as on Starfish spot, near Pingwe. Populated by hundreds of multicolored stars, this shallow area makes it easy to observe 5 different species, as well as small fish and critters.

Starfish snorkeling spot from the boat
View of Starfish snorkeling area from a boat.

How to get to Starfish snorkeling spot?

Starfish snorkeling spot is located on Pingwe reef flat, roughly opposite Kichanga Lodge. It is a popular stop for boat tours in the Pingwe/Dongwe area. It is easy to book a tour with your hotel or with the fishermen present on the beach.

Seasoned snorkelers might consider reaching Starfish with a 400 meters swim from the beach at low tide, but make sure to locate the spot well, not to go alone, and to use a dive flag to be seen by boats and jet skis.

Starfish snorkeling spot map, Zanzibar

Water entrance for snorkeling Starfish

If you are on a tour, you will enter the water from the boat ladders. If you explore it on your own, get into the water from the beach, in front of the snorkeling area.

Starfish snorkeling exploration tips

Starfish snorkeling spot extends over a hundred meters wide and features a mix of sand, seagrass, and small coral heads. The depth varies from 3 to 6 feet/1 to 2 meters depending on the tides.

Multicolored knobbed sea stars in Zanzibar
The multicolored knobbed starfish is the most abundant at this location.

At this location, starfish densities are very high. In places, you will see dozens of sea stars over a few square meters. The most common starfish is the multicolored knobbed starfish, which can be green, bluish, yellowish, brown, or orange.

Cushion sea star in seagrass meadows
Cushion sea stars are usually spotted in the seagrass.

Other (less common) starfish species can also be seen at this location, including the red-knobbed starfish, the honeycomb sea star, the blue starfish, as well as the cushion sea star, more discreet.

Small coral and starfish on the reef flat
Small coral scattered in the sand attracts a diversity of fish.

Around the small coral scattered on the sand, you might occasionally spot a Valentinni’s sharpnose puffer, a Moorish Idol, or small communities of threespot dascyllus. Seagrasses are also popular with sea urchins, such as the collector sea urchin, the flower sea urchin and the black sea urchin.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Several hotels are located along the beach facing the lagoon, including Kichanga Lodge, Karafuu Beach Resort & Spa, Ras Michamvi Beach Resort and Pearl Beach by Sansi.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth7ft/2.5m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat (or a sandy beach)
  • Potential DangersBoat/jet ski traffic
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsCost of a snorkeling tour (or free from the beach)

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.