Diving in Nungwi
Diving is especially popular here and many of the hotels offer dives and dive courses: you can go on the local reef, or go further afield to reefs such as Leven Bank and Mnemba. Over recent years several dive operations have come, gone or changed their name or location; at the beginning of 2006, five serious dive operations were in operation in Nungwi.
Spanish Dancer Dive Centre
PO Box 3486, Stone Town, Zanzibar; Ø 024 2240091/0777 417717/0777 430005; e firstname.lastname@example.org; www.spanishdancerdivers.com (SPANDA 5º43.891'S; 39º17.473'E). Taking its name from both an attractive marine creature and its owner's nationality, Spanish Dancer has been operational since 2001. Based in an open rondavel on South Beach, Spanish Dancer is run by Anna and Gregory, their daughter Sabina and her partner Carlos, 3 of whom are dive instructors. The team regularly dives 20 sites, inc Mnemba (1 hr 10min by boat) and Leven Bank (divers must have a min of 20 logged dives to participate).
Equipt and steel tanks seem in good condition, and there are 2 boats: a large one capable of carrying 25 divers, and a smaller one for 15 divers on a 2-tank trip. Oxygen and first-aid kits are standard on all boats and Anna is a doctor, which should ensure good safety standards. By rule, only the instructors carry surface marker buoys, so you may want to consider taking your own. Though the instructors are all PADI-registered and can teach dive courses in Spanish, Italian and English, the centre itself is not a PADI resort. Sunset cruises in a local dhow can also be arranged here. US$35/95/145/230 for 1/3/5/10 local dive packages (plus US$15 at Mnemba); US$60 PADI Discover Scuba Diving; US$350 PADI Open Water certification course; US$750 PADI Dive Master.
PO Box 3528, Zanzibar; Ø 0746 442203; e email@example.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org; www.sensationdivers.com (SENSAT 5º43.795'S; 39º17.484'E). This dive outfit is based opposite Amaan Bungalows on the Nungwi restaurant strip, and its managers are firm fixtures on the Nungwi party circuit. Sensation appears to concentrate on some of the more adrenalininfluenced options for diving. They have 4 dhows, a fast new 12m RIB (rigid inflatable boat) that reaches Pemba in 90 mins, a raft of underwater toys from DPV motorised scooters to camera houses, and Nitrox tanks. The centre is a PADI Gold Palm 5-Star Instructor Development Centre and all boats carry oxygen, first aid and cell phones as standard. US$35/90/150/225 for 1/3/6/10 dive packages (plus US$60/20 sgl/each multiple at Mnemba); US$60 PADI Discover Scuba Diving; US$300 PADI Open Water certification course; US$600 PADI Dive Master; US$150 PADI Nitrox course. 10% discount for divers with own equipt.
East Africa Diving & Watersport Centre
PO Box 2750, Nungwi, Zanzibar; Ø 0777 416425/420588; e EADC@zitec.org; www.diving-zanzibar.com (EADIVE 5º43.602'S; 39º17.535'E). Owned and operated by an experienced, straight-talking German–South African couple, Michael and Delene Kutz, this is the oldest dive centre on north coast. On the beach in front of Jambo Brothers Guesthouse, this efficient PADI Resort Dive Centre offers courses to Dive Master and a host of scuba trips. Dive sites are reached by dhow (inc 2 engines for long trips) or zippy speedboat, and each boat has 2 experienced captains, with power of veto over any potentially unsafe dive. Safety appears to be taken seriously here, with all boats equipped with first aid and oxygen; dive leaders and every third diver carry inflatable marker buoys; with steel tanks Bauer serviced every quarter and air quality tested annually.
Female divers also take note, the tanks here are all squat steel tanks, making them a much more comfortable shape on your back, and significantly easier to cart down the beach to the boat. A thankful Japanese diver created some stunning, accurate cartoon dive maps of the sites regularly visited by EADC, and these have been carefully laminated for dive briefings. Mnemba sites are visited every couple of days; Hunga is a frequent destination; Kichafi, Mbwangawa and Haji all feature on the east coast; Tumbatu is a weekly excursion and Big Wall at Mnemba is favoured over Leven Bank for safety and quality of marine life. US$40/105/165/240 for 1/3/5/8 dive packages (plus US$25 to Mnemba Atoll). US$60 PADI Discover Scuba Diving instruction and 1 dive; US$350 PADI Open Water certification course inc 4 dives; US$270 PADI Advanced Open Water inc 5 dives.
PO Box 4200, Zanzibar; Ø/f 024 2240014/0741 324744; e email@example.com; www.sazanibeach.com (SAZANI 5º43.775'S; 39º18.669'E). Based at Sazani Beach Hotel in Nungwi, Divemaxx does not currently have a resident dive instructor. The English lodge manager, Mike, is a dive master and will rent out equipt and escort group trips for experienced divers, but there are no scuba courses available here. US$40/50 local dives/Leven Bank or Mnemba sites; Mnemba snorkelling trips US$35.
Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel Dive Centre
PO Box 1784, Zanzibar; Ø 024 2233767/2232512; f 024 2233098; e firstname.lastname@example.org; www.rasnungwi.com/diving/ (RASNUN 5º43.809'S; 39º18.691'E). A Gold Palm 5-Star PADI Instructor Development Centre, this centre offers all PADI qualifications to instructor level. It all appears to have the same high quality as the hotel in which it's based; equipt, service, safety and staff professionalism all seem top-notch here. For guests coming here to learn to dive, it's worth emailing in advance; there's a home-study option which allows all the Open Water course reading and paperwork to be done before you arrive. Beginners confined-water sessions are held in either the swimming pool or the adjacent lagoon in front of the hotel. A strict refresher policy means that all divers who have not donned scuba gear for 6 months must do a refresher course on arrival.
New 3mm long and short Reef wetsuits, Aqualung masks and BCDs, Mares fins are neatly laid out pre-dive for individual collection. Watertight pelican boxes are available for cameras. Four permanent instructors, a local dive master and 8 local boat captains and snorkel crew keep everything shipshape on board the 4 large dhows. Two of these are capable of taking 10 divers on a 2-tank dive trip, whilst the other 2 sailing dhows are used for sunset cruises and snorkelling trips. Regular dive sites are predominantly on the west side of the island; though trips to Mnemba are also run regularly as clockwork. The 12 sites which they most frequently visit are chalked up on the centre's blackboard; they vary according to visibility and weather conditions. Trips to Leven Bank and Mnemba's Big Wall are strictly for Advanced Divers and above. Dive departure times vary by tide and sometimes depart from the village (dala-dala transfer) if the water in the lagoon is too shallow to allow their boat to pass through to the reef. US$40/70/210/300 for 1/2/6/10 dive packages (Mnemba: US$30 suppt); US$30 Refresher course; US$475 PADI Open Water certification course; Snorkelling US$30–65.