Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Breathing Underwater

After an adventurous first couple days in Zanzibar I headed to Nungwi at the north tip of the island for diving. Nungwi boasts touristy beaches, five-star hotels and restaurants that line the beach. Busier and more touristy than Paje, Nungwi also is home to many dive companies and some of the most beautiful dive sites on Zanzibar.

I arrived to my guest house at Highland Bungalows in the early afternoon. Highland bungalows are a good 8-10 minute walk to the beach but it’s one of the cheapest in town.  For $20 a night you can have your own room and $30 a night for a double room. My friend Christian who had accompanied me from Paje joined me to find the best and cheapest dive company. We were recommended Spanish Dancer Divers, and after emailing them, acquired a 10% discount on all our dives.

We met up with our friend Amber, who we also met in Paje, and had dinner at Mama Mia balcony, overlooking the ocean. Thanksgiving Day, we woke up early and set off for Mnemba Atoll, one of the most famous dive sites in Zanzibar. With a slow boat the trip can take over an hour, but Spanish Dancer Divers speed boat got us there in 30 minutes. We strapped on our BCD’s and tested our equipment and took one large step out of the boat into the turquoise water.

The visibility was amazing as we descended under the water. We enjoyed many creatures including eels, Spanish dancers, many colorful fish, and beautiful coral. After a successful dive we headed back to our boat for snacks and our waiting period. We again descended down into the water to enjoy wide array of fish and coral before headed back to the boat. I was a bit disappointed that we did not see any larger animals but it was still amazing to be swimming with so many colorful fish.

For thanksgiving dinner Amber, Christian and I ate at Bracka Restaurant, located right on the sand. We choose a table nearest to the water and enjoyed cocktails and the sunset as the restaurant set out the daily catch. Earlier we had been told that Bracka had some of the best seafood in town. Before dinner they set out their catch of the day for customers to see and choose. I, of course could not choose only one because they all looked so good, so I choose the mixed seafood platter (assorted seafood’s, fries, salad and a house cocktail) for 25,000 TSH ($12.50 USD) and was able to try, prawns, lobster, tuna, snapper, squid and octopus. They were all amazing but the prawns were my favorite.

The next morning we woke up even earlier and Christian and I walked out to the beach to enjoy the sunrise.  If you don’t know me yet, I hate waking up early, so I almost fell asleep multiple times on the beach. As the sun rose the sky turned into a pastel of colors. We then headed back to the guest house for a quick nap and then we set off again for another two dives. Today we did two local dives. I again we strapped on the BCD and back-flipped of the boat into the water.

The first local site was Magic Reef, we spotted many animals including baby sharks, eels, rock lobsters, colorful fish and beautiful corals. The current was very strong as we swam, we swan hard fighting against the current and I began feeling a bit queasy. I have heard many stories of people throwing up into their regulators and attracting all kinds of fish. I did not want that to happen to me so I swam along trying not to exert myself. I of course was still at over a half tank but I wanted to hold out as long as I could so I didn’t cut short the dive for the others in the group. Luckily one of the guys already was at a quarter tank, so we headed up. I was so glad to be out of the water.  

I decided to sit the next dive out, but after the divers went into the water I decided to attempt snorkeling. I put on my flippers, mask and snorkel and swam out into the water. I followed the three divers on the surface until I began to spot jellyfish swimming around me.  Of course I got a bit nervous and headed back to the boat to check. The captain of the boat said the translucent jellyfish were harmless, and the stings were very mild, but if I saw a pink or blue one to swim away fast.

I went back out and snorkeled with the clear jellyfish until the divers came up. I felt much better after swimming around. When we arrived back to shore we had a quick bite to eat and headed home for a nap. For dinner we visited LangiLangi Beach Bungalow Restaurant and ate on the deck hanging over the ocean. Almost all restaurants have an amazing view and the prices are reasonable between 10,000 – 25,000 ($5 - $12.50) for amazing seafood, pizza, pasta and more.

The next morning we woke up early and enjoyed pancake breakfast at our guest house before heading off in a shared taxi to Stone Town. Overall Nungwi was amazing. In contrast to Paje, it was filled with tourists and restaurants catered to Muzungus. We were hassled more by the beach boys and Masai men who tried to sell us everything from tours and handcrafts to weed and sex. The diving was good but it’s a hit or miss if you are going to see large animals. The prices were a bit higher than Paje, but still reasonable for backpackers.


1 comment:

  1. This is so cool. I love beaches so much, I envy you that you get to enjoy at such a fun beach. The picture of sunrise is beautiful.