Whether you’re a dedicated bubble blower or first-time diver, spending time in the colourful underwater world is sure to be a highlight of your African holiday. Diving in theZanzibar Indian Ocean is an absolute pleasure: coral reefs teem with fish of every conceivable size and shape; dolphins, turtles and manta rays are often seen; and the translucent water not only makes for excellent visibility but is also wonderfully warm.
For the best of two very different worlds, we highly recommend combining your Africa diving holiday with a Big 5 safari: Zanzibar and Mafia tropical coastline is a short flight from anywhere in East Africa’s Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya or Tanzania. A variety of dive destinations can be found off Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline,the world-renowned dive sites off Mafia and Pemba Islands can be easily added to an East Africa safari; Beginners would do well to explore the calm water and shallow reefs surrounding the island of Mauritius while more experienced divers can opt for exciting drift dives off Pemba Island in Tanzania or the magnificent coral walls in the largely unmapped waters of Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago.
Our clients quickly discover that the focus of our Africa diving holidays is by no means restricted to the world below the waves. From family-friendly beach villas in the Bazaruto Archipelago to exclusive honeymoon hideouts on the private islands of the Seychelles, our recommended diving holidays usher in high levels of service and blissful locations on powdery-white tropical beaches.
From shallow coral gardens to adventurous deep-sea dives, our guide to Africa’s top diving destinations has something for everyone.
The warm translucent water off Africa’s Indian Ocean coast is home to an astonishing array of large marine life – whales, dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays – while the dark stains of deeper blue hint at incredible coral reefs waiting to be explored on an African diving holiday.
Mafia Island: off the beaten track; beautiful brightly coloured corals
Mafia Island has an incredible choice of sites: shallow flat-top reefs, steep banks of coral, beautiful densely packed bommies, channels, swim troughs, drift dives and caves. This beautiful tropical island falls within the Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania’s first marine national park and one of the largest protected marine areas in the Indian Ocean.
For the most part the coral is in great condition and hasn’t suffered the bleaching that’s occurred in other Indian Ocean island destinations. After diving, enjoy a picnic on a bright white sandbank with a stretch of beach all to yourself.
Zanzibar: Steep coral walls, shallow reefs& Drift dives
The Zanzibar Archipelago offers such a diversity of dive sites – from sheltered bays to exciting wall, drift and night dives – that anyone from an absolute beginner to a practiced pro will be left wanting more. The marine park around Mnemba Island: an atoll with a shallow reef fringed by steep coral walls dropping down about 40m is a must visit.
We highly recommend Pemba Island and the mainland: a deep channel with incredible corals of all descriptions, while the Levan Banks near the Pemba Channel is popular for advanced divers due to strong currents (you can literally go with the flow).
Seychelles: rich marine life, warm & clear water.
The Seychelles is a top diving destination with a range of sites to suit divers of all levels. Around the Inner Islands, enormous granite boulders lie heaped on the ocean floor creating shallow coral crevices with a kaleidoscope of exotic reef fish alongside hawksbill turtles, octopus, eels and nudibranchs.
Although some of the coral was bleached in 1998 it has recovered well, and the diversity of marine life in the warm, clear Indian Ocean is nothing short of astonishing. For more advanced divers, the remote sites around the Outer Islands offer the chance of seeing sailfish, mantas and maybe even a hammerhead shark.
Mozambique: colourful coral; whale sharks & manta rays
The beautiful tropical islands off Mozambique’s coastline are a perfect destination for your African diving holiday. For beginner divers we’d recommend the protected waters of the Bazaruto National Park: the reefs are relatively shallow with a rich array of hard and soft corals, reef fish, and often a turtle or manta ray gliding by. Whale sharks can also be seen between October and December, and there’s even the slim chance of spotting a shy and super-rare dugong.
Advanced divers or those looking for a private island escape should cast their eyes north to the far-flung islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago. Expect magnificent coral walls and dramatic drop-offs patrolled by pelagic fish and various shark species, turtles and – in the summer months – humpback whales. The upwelling of cold water in the Quirimbas has kept these reefs healthy, vibrantly coloured and teeming with life. This is still a relatively unexplored diving destination with new dive sites being discovered all the time.
Mauritius: perfect for beginners
The island of Mauritius is almost completely surrounded by a coral reef creating sheltered waters with weirdly shaped corals and brightly coloured fish darting about – perfect for beginners! – while more advanced divers are sure to enjoy exploring the wrecks, caves, tunnels and pinnacles further out to sea.
Scuba-diving is best off the south-western side of the island with dozen of sites to choose from – Flic en Flac being one of the best known – and the water is so warm that wearing a wetsuit is seldom necessary.
South Africa: exclusive; southernmost reef in the world Just off South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coastlinelies the world’s southernmost coral reef. On your way to your dive you may even get the chance to swim with dolphins and, once below the surface, you’ll find reefs are teaming with life: busy cleaning stations, moray eels poking their heads through coral crevices, turtles, snappers, kingfish, scorpion fish – the list totals over 1 250 species, a number which rivals that of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Diving is seriously restricted within this marine reserve