Enjoying a Game of Fish Chase in Nungwi, Zanzibar

Five fish, same type, no Nemo and definitely no Ariel. That’s pretty much my experience of snorkelling in Nungwi, Zanzibar. Four of us from my tour from Zanzibar to Nairobi – two English girls, an Irish man and a Dutch man – paid 15,000Tsh each (£6) to go out on a dhow boat to explore Nungwi’s coastline from the other side.

Going snorkelling in Nungwi

We were promised fish by their shoals, vibrant coral reefs and I’m sure an octopus was mentioned at one point, maybe not. I even took my waterproof disposable camera out to catch some shots, but unfortunately we were greatly oversold and undelivered to.

After passing endless hotels from empty half-built shells to luxurious 5-stars – our dhow driver decided we’d gone far enough. I stepped into my flippers and felt the rubber suck my feet in securely. I balanced the mask on my head and followed my new Dutch friend’s lead and  jumped off the dhow into the beautiful Indian Ocean.

Excitedly I bobbed my head under the water and frantically scouted around for something cool to snap on my camera. There was literally nothing to see in the clear waters. It was a choppy day out at sea and as the waves splashed over my head they went down my tube causing me to cough and splutter my way back to the dhow boat 10 minutes and one fish later.

Snorkelling in Nungwi

Something along the way got lost in translation – or the sailors were just taking the piss. They just kept pointing to spots in the ocean and gesturing for us to go over there. When we’d managed to fight all the odds what with our short snorkels and all, and reach the point to bob under there was nothing to see. I’d surface and do a ‘no-fish-here’ gesture (basically waving my hand in front of my throat as if to say ‘cut it out’, they understood) and they’d gesture to another spot. This game of fish chase went on for a good hour before I gave up.

In place of the tropical snorkelling trip I was promised I found it was much more fun to sunbathe atop the boat and jump in the water when I got too hot. Jumping off boats is literally one of my most favourite things to do. The feeling of freedom is hard to recreate.

Beach in Nungwi

The bemused sailors fed us a seemingly endless supply of fresh mango; skilfully sliced off in the flick of a knife. It tasted incredible sucked from the skin on board a dhow boat in the Indian Ocean. In fact, this is now my favourite way to eat mango, especially as you get to wash off your citrusly sticky face in the water after.

As the ocean became even more choppy our new sailor friends decided we should head back. Instead of using the engine they put the beautiful white sail up to complete our dhow boat experience. This was without a doubt one of my favourite moments of my trip to Zanzibar. I came, I saw, I sailed. We sliced through the endless blue waters white beach bound back to the safety of the rest of our group.

I’m afraid I definitely won’t be recommending Nungwi for snorkelling, but if it’s a great value dhow boat ride you want I’ll give it 5 stars.

Exploring the Indian Ocean on a Dhow Boat

What's it Like Travelling in a Tour Group?
Big Night Out at Vuvuzelas in Paje, Zanzibar


  1. by Outlet Michael kors on September 3, 2012  5:04 am Reply

    Thanks, for the great post

  2. by thepinaysolobackpacker on September 11, 2012  9:16 am Reply

    sad you weren't able to spot some fish but despite that, you're still able to see the beauty of this place. thanks for sharing! :)

    • by Vicky on September 13, 2012  6:30 pm Reply

      No problem. Yeah I was sad too, but at least we found a different sort of beauty :)

  3. by Arianwen on November 12, 2012  10:01 pm Reply

    I love jumping off boats too - or anything for that matter! But generally there's less chance of cracking your head open in the sea than a river. Sorry you didn't spot many fish! Go to the Galapagos ;)

    • by Vicky on November 12, 2012  11:14 pm Reply

      Ha, love to! You still having fun? When are you home. We miss you :(

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