Pemba Island Scuba Diving Tours, Holidays and Dive Courses - A Global Dive Destination
Tanzania is without doubt host to the most diverse dive sites in Africa. Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia and Mtwara confirm this poor but friendly nation as being the number one dive site in Africa. People ask us if we include the Red Sea in our deliberations, and the answer is yes. The ecosystem in East Africa is such that the Red Sea, while clear and stunning, holds only 350 species of fish. Dr Ewald Lieske visited Pemba in 2010, and continued his study of the Indian Ocean diving in East Africa. He informed us that the East African coast is host to 500 species of fish, probably 550. The two top dive destinations for biodiversity in Tanzania are Mtwara and Zanzibar. Zanzibar includes the remote island of Pemba. As the pioneers of diving in Pemba Island, allow us to tailor make your dive holiday in Pemba and your Tanzania Safari tour beforehand.
EXPERIENCE MARINE LIFE IN PEMBA ISLAND WITH OUR DIVE TOURS
Diving in Pemba Island is really quite something. It has the most spectacularly healthy reefs in Africa. Pemba Island is a stand alone, world class dive destination. As Gavin Goodhart, Director of Ambrosia Television (UK) said: “I would say that Misali Island and the north of Pemba are easily one of the healthiest 30 reefs in the world.”
Diving in Pemba Island will see you plunge over coral covered walls, soar over coral strewn reef slopes, and enormous, healthy bommies and fans that are surrounded by a plethora of reef fish.
The Njao Gap is host to schools of chevron barracuda, jacks and snapper. This is an area of fantastic biodiversity, with macro sites such as the Aquarium and Major Eggers Ascent, just south of the Njao Gap, and the occasional hammerhead shark patrolling inside the gap.
Misali Island has unbroken coral, steep walls, mobula rays and the occasional big shark come by.
The Fundo Gap sees dogtooth tuna hunting along its walls, schools of horse eyed Jacks and trevalley. Giant groupers sit territorially in holes in the walls and most sites have a resident Maori wrasse. The Fundo Gap is where the jacks can blot out the sun.
Pemba is also home to Ribbon Eels, Fire Dartfish and Leaffish. The Nudibranch’s are also prolific. When diving in Pemba Island you often see the famous 30cm Spanish dancer!
If you can find Raf’s secret site, Slobodan Milosevic’s bunker, you will be surrounded by fish for the entire dive. This is the number one dive site in the whole of Pemba, but you need slack tide to best enjoy it.
Long before we were involved in the travel industry, one of our co-founders, Raf Jah, set up a dive company on Pemba Island, called Swahili Divers. He lived, worked and dived on the Island for 19 years. With his team, he found many of the dive sites and named them. Raf, a PADI instructor and NAUI instructor trainer, sold Swahili Divers in 2016, but he remains the authority on Pemba’s diving.
WHY DIVE THE ISLAND OF PEMBA
In addition to the diving, Pemba Island is a quiet island- it is the last stop on the line. With four internationally owned hotels, Pemba is a dreamlike destination compared to the busy bustle of Zanzibar. The wonder of this means that you are diving in a manner similar to Captain Jaques Cousteau. There is simply no other boat on the reef. We asked Raf what he remembered the most about diving in Pemba, and he said, that as he descended, he was next to a man in a dugout canoe with a 1950’s mask, snorkelling for octopus. For him that was his Jaques Cousteau moment.
Contact us to book your dream dive holiday on Pemba Island. Add a safari? We do that too.
WHERE TO STAY AT PEMBA ISLAND FOR DIVERS
Since the sale of Swahili Divers, and the Kervan Saray Beach lodge, there is no quality budget accommodation on Pemba Island. This is simply because the cost of operation in Zanzibar is so high. Taxes can make up 67% of the price paid. The only budget affairs are extremely inconsistent and their quality leaves a lot to be desired. To dive Pemba safely, you either need your own boat with two engines, or you MUST dive with a reputable operator. And so our accommodation guide is written for divers.
We only recommend a few establishments on the Island. The best lodge on the Island, is Fundu Lagoon. It’s also the most expensive for standard rooms. But- it does have Philbert Ngelege, the only other person who has been diving in Pemba almost as long as Raf did. Philbert is the reason to dive from Fundu. He’s the manager and he knows where to go, and how to look after you in and around Misali Island.
From $2950 for a dive week all inc, booked 7 months in advance or more.
For experienced divers with EPIRB beacons and 3m surface marker buoys, staying at Manta Resort- (formerly Manta Reef Lodge) is a serious option. The Manta Resort is located at the northern end of Pemba. The Manta Resort often dives on the northern reefs of Pemba, which are the most unpredictable; strong currents abound on the hill like reefs (there are few walls at Lighthouse, Swiss Reef and Shimba Hills). It is imperative to make sure that your dive boat has two engines when diving north of the lighthouse. Waves can be high, take an SMB on every dive.
The Manta Resort also has the underwater hotel room, which is quite magnificent.
From $2832 for a week in the Manta Resort all inc booked 5 months in advance
Swahili Divers has morphed from the Kervan Saray Beach Lodge, a Turkish inspired budget camp, to the Gecko Nature Lodge, a much more plush affair with more comfort. That has rightly pushed prices up. Swahili Divers are cheaper than Manta Resort, but located between the Njao Gap and Swiss Reef.
From $1970 for a week of diving full board at Swahili Divers.