Today we decided on a snorkelling trip with a 9 am start on the beach shortly after breakfast. The staff at the Watersports centre were lovely, accommodating and kitted us out with snorkels, masks, fins and even the t-shirt off their back to protect us from the hot sun. The boat had been stocked with items such as life jackets, towels, drinking water, biscuits, watermelon, first aid products, two staff members and four tourists climbed into a little boat, and we travelled along the coast and over to Mnemba Island which took around 25 minutes. The boat ride itself was fun, and it was great to get a view from the sea of the beach bungalows and get a sense of your surroundings.
Mnemba Island is astonishing. The sand is white, the sea is turquoise, and the beach is lined up with leafy palm trees. It's the stuff of the brochure photos drawing you to Zanzibar. We snorkelled in 2 locations over about 1 1/2 hours - each swim around half an hour. As the boat moved in between the two sites, we were treated with the various food and drink.
Although we were pretty near the beach on the second location, we still jumped in off the side of the boat. I mention this because if you've never snorkelled before, this is a tough experience from walking in from the beach and being able to touch the bottom and get out when you choose. Having said that, it's not deep, you can wear a life jacket if you like. You're able to swim with a guide while the boat moves around to pick you up when you're done. It felt very safe, and we were looked after.
We weren't, however, the only people there. There were around ten tiny boats at each location - which could mean up 50+ tourists in the water at a time. So you're certainly not on your own. But, it didn't matter to us, there was plenty of space for everyone.
When you're facing down, looking at the aquarium underneath you, it doesn't matter how many other people are also sharing the same experience. Unfortunately, I've been spoilt by learning to dive in the Red Sea, but while this wasn't on the same level with that, there was plenty to see. There were many colourful fish, some tiny, some 20cm or so. Nothing too big or scary. There is an 85% chance of seeing Dolphins, but sadly we were in the 15%. However, our guide informed us that usually, you could spot them and often you can jump in and snorkel with them. But today wasn't one of those days.
The trip cost $35 per person.
If you're looking for some fantastic adventure below the seas, then look no further. Mnenda Atol is the ideal location for some out of this world sea viewing. Make the most of your time, by discovering some unique underwater creatures.
By Louise Briggs