Best time to visit Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming side by side with these friendly creatures in their natural habitat is unforgettable

Best time: January–February | June–October

Swimming with Dolphins

Zanzibar's southern coastal waters are home to humpback and bottlenose dolphins. Some tour operators organize swimming with dolphins near the shores of the Kizimkazi fishing village. You can book a trip right from your hotel.

Menai Bay Conservation Area located not far from Kizimkazi is an excellent destination for marine safari due to its abundant and diverse sea life that includes mangrove forests, turtle breeding areas, and several coral reefs. Humpback and bottle-nose dolphins are frequent visitors in the conservation area. Many tours end with a picnic at one of the Menai Bay small islands.

Traditional small boats pick up tourists in the village and take them snorkeling on the coral reefs and swimming alongside dolphins. While bottle-nose dolphins are very playful and easy-going, humpback dolphins are rather shy and prefer to avoid people. Dolphins are especially abundant along the Fumba peninsula.

You should avoid sudden movements and allow the dolphins to come to you and do not chase the dolphins by boat! Also, the best time to encounter them is typically early in the morning. Try to avoid the rainy season because the visibility is not as good. The best period for seeing and swimming with dolphins is during the dry season, which runs from January to February and from June to October.

Practical info

What are the best months to swim with dolphins in Zanzibar?

The dry season, which occurs from January to February and June to October, is the best time to observe and swim with dolphins in Zanzibar. During the rainy season, dolphins may be less visible due to poor visibility. Early morning is when tourists can see the highest number of dolphins along the Fumba peninsula, with tours arranged by several different operators. Tours of this sort include activities such as dolphin watching, snorkeling, exploration of coral reefs, and an island picnic within Menai Bay. Show more

Where is the Menai Bay Conservation Area located?

Menai Bay Conservation Area is found in the southern coastal area of Zanzibar, close to Kizimkazi. Mangrove forests, turtle breeding areas, and many coral reefs can be found here, as well as an array of marine life. Tour operators regulate tours which involve swimming with dolphins, picnicking on the island of Menai Bay, and snorkeling. Visitors to the marine safari can observe dolphins and participate in nature walks and discussions highlighting conservation efforts in the area. Show more

What other marine animals can be seen in the Menai Bay Conservation Area?

Beyond dolphins, Menai Bay Conservation Area includes mangrove forests, numerous coral reefs, and a turtle breeding zone, featuring a broad diversity of marine life. Clownfish, Angelfish, Triggerfish, and other unusual fish species can be seen while snorkeling in the area. Visitors can also discover more about marine ecosystems and how they can assist in their conservation efforts during some tours. Nature walks, picnics on small islands, and dolphin-watching sessions are other possible activities offered by the tour guides. Show more

What should tourists avoid while swimming with dolphins in Zanzibar?

When swimming with dolphins in Zanzibar, visitors are advised to follow the guidelines provided by tour operators to avoid disturbing the dolphins, which may entail sudden or rapid movement or boat chases. Although bottle-nose dolphins are accommodating and social, humpback dolphins have an introverted disposition and are naturally scared of humans. Tourists must not touch or overexcite the dolphins for their safety, as the marine mammals remain untamed and should be respected. Following the tour guide's instructions is recommended for an enjoyable and secure experience. Show more

Is it possible to swim with humpback and bottle-nose dolphins at the same time?

In Zanzibar, swimmers can typically encounter both bottle-nose dolphins and humpback dolphins on the same tour, depending on the time of day and site chosen. Seeing bottle-nose dolphins usually require an early start to the day while humpback dolphins are shy and therefore less frequently observed. Travel operators offer tour groups the chance to swim with these animals, as well as go snorkeling, explore coral reefs and enjoy picnics on Menai Bay small islands. Whether humpback or bottle-nose, the dolphins must be respected as they are wild and vulnerable creatures. Show more

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