diving in pemba
What is the water temperature?
The water temperature varies between 29 C degrees to 24 C, warm enough to wear just a 3mm neoprene suit or a 5mm in the winter. Our "winter" is July-Aug-Sept.
What is the underwater visibility?
On our reefs and walls the visibility often exceeds 30 metres and can reach 70m. The visibility in the channels on an outgoing tide ranges from 10 metres up 30 metres. Due to the complexity of our Oceanic and tidal currents mixing we sometimes get a 30m clear blue dive in the morning and a 10 metre visibility dive in the afternoon. This is when we get to see the huge grouper and schools of jacks feeding.
What is the range of diving depths?
We find that the best life, light and healthy reefs exist between 15-25 metres of depth. Most of our dives are planned to a maximum of 25m (or 80 Ft). Sometimes, when there is something very special, we go deeper of course within the limits of your current certification. Due to the lack of a hyperbaric chamber nearby ( nearest one is 2 hours outside of stone town ) we limit all recreational diving to a maximum of 35m. For those with technical diving training we limit our decompression dives to 50 meters until we start blending trimix in the near future.
Are there strong currents?
In some of the channels, at certain times of the year we get strong currents that are good challenging drift dives. While these dives may excite some of you, we generally only go to these spots when you ask us to! On the whole our diving in Pemba is sedate, easy and safe.
Are the coral reefs alive?
Our reefs are in phenomenal condition, almost pristine. We are blessed with some of the most healthy coral reefs in the world – El nino did destroy small areas of coral above 8m, but below 8m the coral fields are healthy, robust, and endless. We have fields of cabbage patch coral, and lots of staghorn.
How does the diving compare with Zanzibar ?
The diving in Zanzibar is very different but in some cases equally as good. With the exception of Mnemba Atoll, Zanzibar’s diving is based upon the continental shelf on which it sits. This means that the types of fish are less often pelagic. The visibility in Pemba is also consistently better, and the spread of good sites is island wide. We do co-operate with the Zanzibar Dive centre and Scoobadoos and recommend both centres.
What will I see on my dives?
Schools of bigeye jacks, schools of chevron barracudas, hump head parrotfish, Maori wrasse, extremely colourful tropical reef fish, sea turtles, tons of anemones and clownfish plus a tremendous variety of hard and soft corals. We also have ribbon eels, eagle rays, occasional manta rays, Hammerhead sharks sometimes visit. We are also home to the 30cm nudibranch!
If you are interested in extreme close-up photography, Pemba offers an opportunity to photograph rare species such as the fire dartfish, leaf-fish, ghost pipefish, seahorses, and dozens of nudibranches.
How many dive sites does Pemba have?
We have explored and charted over 30 spectacular dive sites and there is stillmiles of uncharted reefs and channels.
Where is Pemba ?
Pemba is located 5º south of the equator and 43º East of the Prime Meridien. It is 50 Nautical miles south of Mombasa and 25 miles off the East African Coast of Tanga. The Southern tip of Pemba is 22 miles from the northern most tip of Pemba
How big is the island?
Pemba is 60 miles long north to south, but due to the long roads it can take 2.5 hours to get from the far south to the far north.
How long does it take to get there?
Dar es Salaam to Pemba takes one hour. The flight from Pemba to Zanzibar takes 30 minutes.
Do the islanders speak English?
No. Although many of the Pembans are educated to secondary level, the English spoken is often poor or non-existent. Pemba really is the back stop on the line.
What kind of money ( currency) do I need?
The Tanzanian shilling is the official currency of Pemba and the rest of Tanzania. We recommend that visitors bring U.S. dollars to pay for all tourist services in Zanzibar/Pemba/Mainland Tanzania. Swahili Divers is very happy to accept Euros and British Pounds as well as Dollars, although you will be invoiced in US$. There are ATM’s only in CHAKE CHAKE.
Are credit cards accepted in Pemba ?
We now happily offer credit card facilities at an extra 7% of total cost Visa, AMEX and Mastercard.
Should I rent a car?
Car rentals with driver are easily available. We will be happy to recommend the various taxi agencies to you. Self drive is not available. Due to our local driving conditions, we do not recommend motorcycle hire under any circumstances.
Are taxis available?
Yes, taxis are plentiful and reliable.
How far is it from the hotel to town?
The hotel is located an hour and a half drive to the North of the capital, Chake Chake, near the town of Konde, and 2 hours from the port.
Is there shopping?
A wide variety of shops can be found in town, offering all sorts of local merchandise and a good range of souvenirs.
Are there island handicrafts?
Yes there are many things made in Pemba; hand woven Baskets, Beautiful Cloth kikoys, Omani inspired Kofia hats, Henna, hand ground coffee, cloves, and hand woven Mkeka mats are some of the local items. We can tell you where to find them, or you can explore.
How safe is the island?
Pemba is extremely safe. The island has very little serious crime. By nature the Swahili People are cordial, friendly and sometimes honest.
Can I plug-in my electrical appliances?
Yes, Pemba uses the same electrical standards as Britain.
Are there any cultural tours?
Very much so!
the dive centre
Are there dive boat trips in the morning?
We depart every morning for a two tank dive trip. We usually depart between 0800 and 0900hrs.
How many tanks per trip?
2 tanks per trip are the norm but we certainly cater to our customers' desires. We can schedule 3 tank dives on request.
Are there night dives?
We now offer night diving at additional cost.
Are there shore dives?
Pemba does not offer shore diving because the best channels, coral gardens and wall dives are more than a mile from shore. Pemba’s western shoreline is mostly mangrove formations which provide the nutrients and nesting places for juvenile fish. The east coast is solid hard coral.
How many dive boats are available?
Swahili Divers owns and operates 4 custom designed dive boats. These vessels have been designed and equipped specifically for diving and contain all of the equipment to make your trip comfortable and safe.
What is your diver to guide ratio?
A maximum of 4 divers per professional guide.
Can non-divers come on the boat?
They are more than welcome. Spouses and family members often accompany our diving guests, making the overall experience more enjoyable.
Can snorkelers come on dive boats?
Again, snorkelers are more than welcome. Lots of dive sites offer the opportunity to snorkel and scuba at the same site. Our vertical walls and channels often rise to within a few feet of the surface.
Are there special snorkelling/diving trips?
Yes, Swahili Divers offers dedicated snorkelling trips to Misali Island. These trips depart in the morning and including appropriate number of guides.
What time do you get back from the morning dive?
Depending on the dive sites chosen for the day, morning dive trips return between 12.30-2pm.
Is lunch served on the boat or at the resort?
On the boat we have coffee, tea and snacks. Lunch is served at the resort upon our return.
How close are the boats to the Hotel?
Our 4 boats are moored directly in front of the hotel, so no need for transfers.
What safety equipment is on the dive boats?
All of our boats have first aid kits, Dan Oxygen systems, life jackets, cell phones, and 2 way radios as well as GPS receivers,all our guides are trained Emergency First Responders.
Are weight belts available?
Yes, weights and belts are provided by Swahili Divers. We have belts in a wide range of sizes and weights in 1,2 and 4 pound (.5 to 2 kilo) increments.
What size scuba tanks are used?
We use s-60 (9 litre) and s- 80 (11.1 litre) aluminium tanks. We also have a couple of s-100 (13.2 litre) tanks for the big guys! All of the tanks are regularly inspected and hydrostatically tested. For those divers qualified, or wish to be qualified we have right and left handed valves for side mount divers as well as manifolded doubles and stage rigged s- 60’s and s-80’s for the open circuit Tek diver
We now offer NITROX