The paradisaical shores of Zanzibar are exotic as its name. Rugged coral and limestone scarps form a sheltered backdrop to tranquil, caster sugar beaches that slope gently down into crystal – clear waters, abundant with marine life. Tall coconut palms and stalking Pandanus cast their wondering shadows over the white sands and swaying hammocks, while Green Wood Hoopoes and Weaver birds flit and flutter between the green leaves and pendulous fruit high above.
Mangapwani is rather remote and therefore more peaceful and less visited, and its golden sands – fringed with palm trees and screw Pines – have the tranquil atmosphere of a lost paradise. Further up, on the northern tip of the island, is the popular Nungwi Peninsular, with its boats building industry, coral lagoons and Turtle Aquarium. On the southern tip of the island are some remote and rugged beaches, yet there are adventures and activities here to suit all tastes – including the Zanzibar Dolphin safari at Kizimkazi, which lies within the Menai Bay Conservation Zone.
Beach activities within the hotels and range from volleyball to horse riding, while many have dive schools, windsurfing schools, kitesurfing, pentanque and skittle. Unguja and Pemba are endowed with some of the best and most varied dive sites in the world, with diving courses catering for the novice up to Dive Master Standards. Steep wall dives; drift dives and world – class coral formations make this area a prime location for the experienced deep water divers.
Diving from a boat in the clear, blue ocean off Zanzibar is one of the most exhilarating experiences to be had on a holiday in this part of East Africa. The visibility is usually very good, the water warm and the marine life diverse and innumerable: Swaying weeds and soft coral all seethe with minute organisms that are food for the larger species. Shoals of fish weave and dart around in kaleidoscopic ballets, and playful octopus, Cuttlefish, Sea-Urchins, and Sea Cucumbers can be seen at every point.
Courses are run at the various schools, and one is able to train up to PADI standards of Sport Diver and Master Diver. For the professional Diver there are marvelous opportunities for deep water diving and underwater photography, and some of the SCUBA schools and dive centers are equipped with lamps and other specialized equipment to outfit such activities of diving in Zanzibar.