African waters may not be the first place you think of when you think of diving but surprisingly they can compete with the very best of Australasia and the Pacific when it comes to coral reefs and warm clear waters. The Red Sea in Egypt is one of the world’s best dive sites and it is most definitely located in Africa. However as it is already pretty well known we are focussing instead on some lesser known locations in Southern and Eastern Africa.
1) Watamu – Kenya
Watamu is a beach resort on the coast of Kenya on the shores of the Indian Ocean. It sits on a headland and therefore offers three main bays; Watamu Bay, Blue Lagoon and Turtle Bay. These make up the protected Watamu Marine National Park. The Marine Park is considered one of the best snorkelling and diving areas on the coast of East Africa. Local community groups, the tourist sector and environmental groups have formed a unique organisation called the Watamu Marine Association to work together with the aim of protecting the area. The whole area is fabulous for diving with white sandy beaches, coral reefs, a huge variety of marine wildlife, mild weather conditions and excellent visibility due to the lack of pollution.
2) Pemba, Bazaruto and Quirimbas – Mozambique
The Quirimbas National Park offers a fantastic natural and unspoilt coastline for some superb diving. Pemba also in Mozambique is an ideal location for both snorkelling and diving as the coral reef is very close to shore. These waters offers protection to a massive variety of soft and hard coral that attract a huge variety of marine species, including the very rare and bizarre oceanic sunfish as well as dolphins, whales, whale sharks and turtles. It is also popular with Humpback Whales and sometimes up to 5 whales at a time often seen on the shore breaching. The area is also home to a fantastic range of rays including the magnificent manta ray. The Bazaruto Archipelago also offers incredible diving in a truly unspoilt landscape. This region has year round diving conditions as temperatures never drop below 24c even in winter (July and August). Mozambique is often combined with safaris in the Kruger National Park.
3) Zanzibar – Tanzania
The coastal and outlying islands of Tanzania have developed a rich mix of African and Arabian influences over the years that give the area a truly unique atmosphere and culture. There is a fantastic range of species mainly down to the healthy coral reefs. The diving is excellent with good visibility, warm waters and many exciting dive sites. The main dive sites off Tanzania are the islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba which all offer different experiences. Zanzibar is surrounded by Indian Ocean coral atolls so you get some fantastic dives coming up close to some of the largest species, especially whales. Pemba Island offers spectacular wall diving, clear water and Mafia Island is best visited during the Whale Shark migration (Nov-Jan) to see the world’s largest fish is all its beauty.