Pemba has more interesting, more varied and more often spectacular diving than anywhere else in East Africa. The coastline is dotted with tiny, uninhabited islands with the 800m deep Pemba channel with world-class deep sea fishing on one side and almost unlimited dive sites around the islets and in the channels between. There is a lot of excellent drift diving along the big walls and some huge independent bommies teeming with reef fish. These are for the more experienced divers only.
All of the recommended diving is found off the west coast and with the dive sites stretching from the northern to the southern tip, if you want to take is all the best that the island has to offer, you will need to stay in two different locations.
At the right times of the year, you can encounter schools of pilot whales and the awesome humpback, going gently about their business.
There are almost limitless dive sites in and around Unvinje, Fundo and Njao Islands and stretching right around the northern tip towards the east coast. Most of the good dives are fast drifts, catching the tide as it sweeps in or out through the gaps between the islets and there are also some excellent underwater bommies where Hugh schoals of pelagics congregate.
There is enough variety here to keep anyone happy with at least a week of good diving and access to these sites is best from Pemba Afloat, The Mission or from one of our yacht charters.
So named because it seems to catch a cold current from the depths. The deep freeze is the Southern side of Fundo Gap. Visibility varies from 15 metres to 70 metres. When the visibility is low, the site becomes a magnet for turtles and giant trevally, both bluefin and blackfin. When the visibility is high, you can see the bottom of Fundo gap at 90 metres. Makes you feel very, very small.
Do not expect to see mantas at Manta Point. Instead, as you swirl around this underwater mountain that rises from the depths to within 6m of the surface, you should look for the huge schools of jackfish and surgeonfish that streak out of the blue and in towards groups of divers. A great spot for pelagic watching.
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There is a couple of great drift dives either side of Njao Gap where you will encounter table-top coral, sea whips and gorgonian sea fans with giant groupers, Napoleon wrasse, titan trigger-fish and regular darting pelagics wahoo, jacks and giant trevally.
In the south, Mesali Island is a protected Marine Reserve and the coral jewel in the crown with shallow water reefs in pristine condition so even snorkellers can indulge and a wonderful beach to chill out on in between dives.
All along the southern coast, from Panza, where there is a small wreck, around as far as Mtangani on the south-east coast, there is an almost continuous wall of soft coral where there can be some very strong currents and hence excellent but quite difficult drift dives.
Again, there is enough variety here to keep anyone happy for 4 to 5 days of good diving and access to these sites is best from The Mission or Fundu Lagoon.
Just off from Mesali Island, this is a craggy wall is peppered with small caves, ridges and underwater peninsula. Large rivers of sand run off the top of the reef to form wide canyons that enter the wall at 25m. Gorgonian fans are in abundance below 20m. On a turning tide the marine life is exceptional and the currents quite strong. Huge giant grouper lazily drift through the reef and hundreds of surgeonfish cruise below divers, still visible at 40 to 50 metres.
Discovered on Christmas Day 1999 this reef is a very steep slope of pristine hard coral that descends from 12 to 35 metres where it too becomes a wall. Christmas is unique for its sheer density of coral and this site is a pleasure to drift along at any depth.