Diving in Africa: 10 of the Best Destinations for Your Safari

Whether you’re a seasoned diving enthusiast or just learning how to dive, these luxury safari lodges are a dream come true. We know planning the perfect marine adventure can be a time-suck and overwhelming with so many incredible options. That's what we’re here for--to save you the headache and the time! We’ve rounded up our favorite diving-friendly properties in some of Africa’s most spectacular locations.

Not a diver? Not to worry! These lodges also offer fantastic opportunities for snorkelers, too! There’s something for everyone in our list of top marine properties. From Seychelles to Zanzibar and plenty of places in between, here are nine stunning lodges you won’t want to miss!

Aerial shot of a speed boat cutting across crystal-clear water, passing small islands of lush foliage. Underwater are rocks and coral and white-sand seabeds.
Seeing the sights with Alphonse Island Resort, Seychelles ©Blue Safari Seychelles

1. The Manta Resort - Pemba Island, Tanzania

A free diver swimming under the underwater room
The underwater room at Manta Resort ©Jesper Anhede

The Manta Resort on Pemba Island, just off the coast of Tanzania, is the perfect destination if you’re looking for someplace both wild and luxurious.

Have you had enough of overcrowded tropical island destinations? You’ll be delighted to find that Pemba island feels a world away from the grind of tourism. We love the simplicity of The Manta Resort’s luxury. And you can’t beat Pemba’s warm, welcoming people. Be prepared to be greeted like family!

From SCUBA diving to snorkeling, freediving to kayaking, there’s something for everyone in this pristine island retreat. And when you’ve had enough of the beach and diving (is it even possible?!), a trek or two through the Ngezi Rainforest is the perfect way to get a mix of land and sea during your stay.

Be sure to ask about the insanely cool Underwater room. Yes, it’s everything you’re imagining right now.

Ask the Expert:

“There is something truly magical about diving off of Pemba, Tanzania while staying at the Manta. There is simply so much life in those reefs, I don't think I've ever seen such numbers of reef fish swirling around coral heads--and even a massive school of jacks in a feeding frenzy on my last dive. Every time a dive ended, the silver lining was the smiling faces of the dive crew, just as excited as I was to talk about all we'd seen below! Divers at Manta learn about the day-to-day conservation efforts taking place to preserve and improve the reef ecosystems, all while collaborating with the local community--it's truly a feel-good dive spot in every way!” -- Lara Ray, EJ Safari Specialist

2. Kinasi Lodge - Mafia Island, Tanzania

Sunbeams fall across a luxurious, canopied king bed which looks out onto a balcony overlooking the jungle. Flowers are arranged on the bed to welcome guests.
The rooms at Kinasi are tasteful and airy ©Kinasi

South of Pemba is Mafia Island, home to Kinasi Lodge. This gorgeous property is tucked against the Indian Ocean and surrounded by Rufiji Mafia Kilwa Marine Reserve.

The waters of the Mafia Island Marine Park are an incredible destination for diving enthusiasts, especially if you’re looking for vibrant, untainted coral. And if you dream of swimming with whale sharks (November to December is best), look no further.

As for the property itself, you’ll love the unique, eclectic feel of Kinasi Lodge. It’s designs and finishes are in the “Shirazi” style with a mix of influences from coastal Tanzania, African, Indian, and Arab cultures. And you’ll love Kinasi’s Thai-inspired spa treatments, especially after full day of sun, sand, and gloriously clear saltwater adventures!

Ask the Expert:

“Diving in the Mafia Island Marine Park means diving the protected Chole Bay waters. The corals thrive in this bay, which is constantly flushed with cool, fresh ocean currents but protected from big storms. This makes for a pretty ideal environment that has so far kept the area clear of coral bleaching. Dives can be diverse, and I saw everything from tiny nudibranchs to massive VW-sized potato groupers! I would love to go back during whale shark season to dive with these seasonal visitors. Saving that for next time!!” -- Lara Ray, EJ Safari Specialist

3. Mnemba Island Lodge - Zanzibar, Tanzania

a thatched-roof banda, nestled beneath trees, features warm lighting and welcoming spaces to lounge. The bedroom looks out onto a gathering area.
The perfect end to a thrilling, adventurous day in the water ©Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island Lodge is located off the coast of Zanzibar on its own private island. This property offers the ultimate escape. With only 10 beachfront bandas to accommodate 20 guests, you’re guaranteed an exclusive, luxurious stay. Looking for a diving-friendly buddymoon destination? We can’t recommend Mnemba Island Lodge highly enough!

This barefoot luxury paradise is home to incredible snorkeling and diving, not to mention fantastic beach lounging when you’re ready for a “day off!” And if you’re looking to get certified, the island even offers a PADI dive school!

4. &beyond Benguerra Island - Benguerra Island, Mozambique

Benguerra Island in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago is home to two more of our favorite properties, one of which is &Beyond Benguerra Island. This property offers something for everyone in your group, including world-class diving and snorkeling among pristine coral reefs, deep sea fishing and fly fishing, bird-watching, and island walks.

And for marine biology wonks, Benguerra Island offers a chance to see Africa’s largest population of the rare, endangered dugong.

A dugong swims near the surface of brightly-lit, crystal-clear blue waters, flanked by a few hitchhiking bright yellow fish.
Dugong in Benguerra in Mozambique ©&beyond Benguerra

5. Azura Benguerra - Benguerra Island, Mozambique

aerial shot of a coastline with white sand beaches, pristine turquoise water, and a cluster of thatched-roof lodges at Azura Benguerra
You can’t beat this view! ©Azura Benguerra

The other property on Benguerra Island we love is Azura Benguerra. It’s arguably the most luxurious beach property in all of Mozambique. And you’ll be happy to know Azura offers options at a number of different price points, so chances are you can have your cake and eat it, too!

Snorkeling and diving at Azura Benguerra is excellent, though you will have to take a boat to reach the sites. (Our suggestion: make the most of it, and build in an island tour and a catered picnic on a deserted island while you’re at it!)

And if you’re eager to see the humpback whale migration, we recommend visiting from August to October.

6. Azura Quilalea, Mozambique

two snorkelers swim through crystal-clear waters toward a beachfront property. A rock shelf, eroded by the waves and covered with foliage, hangs overhead.
Two snorkelers off Azura Quilalea ©Scott Ramsay

If you’re a serious diver looking for one of the most stunning locations in the world, Azura Quilalea, situated in Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago, is your answer. This exclusive property is the only inhabited area on the 86-acre island, so you’re sure to have plenty of solitude for your dives. Snorkel on the reef right off the beach or opt for a more involved deep-water excursion.

The Quirimbas Archipelago, often called “the African Caribbean,” is world-renowned for its unspoiled coral. With 125 miles of pristine islands and crystal-clear waters, this region deserves a slot at the top of your diving bucket list.

7. Alphonse Island Resort, Seychelles

a diver swims above an explosion of color--fluorescent corals in pink, orange, yellow, and fuschia.
You have to see it to believe it. ©Alphonse Island

Alphonse Island Resort is tucked away on a private island in Seychelles in one of the world’s healthiest climates. Here, you’re guaranteed miles upon miles of unblemished shorelines, a vast array of marine life, and sustainability measures to ensure it all stays that way.

Alphonse is an ideal destination for serious divers. But the 13 spectacular dive sites here provide opportunities for divers of all levels. And with an international roster of guides, dive masters, and qualified managers, your diving experience here promises both thrilling sites and a fascinating education on this unique and breathtaking ecosystem.

Ask the Expert:

“Diving off Alphonse Island was simply amazing! There is very little fishing pressure here, so it's a wonderland of healthy corals, prolific reef fish, and the big pelagic fish cruising in and out. With visibility in April at 90 feet and an endless array of dive sites, including the best wall dives I've ever seen, this is world-class diving. And the crew at Alphonse Island are true professionals.” -- Lara Ray, EJ Safari Specialist

8. Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

a wood-beam, thatched-roof suite is enveloped by the surrounding jungle. The bedroom area looks out onto a sitting area, then to the foliage below.
We love the simple but beautiful rooms of the Constance ©Constance Tsarabanjina

Overlooking Nosy Mitiso, this incredible private-island property is a magnificent destination, both ecologically and culturally. Divers and snorkelers will love the incredibly pristine waters and marine life. The area is widely regarded as the number-one diving location in all of Madagascar.

Fans of history, anthropology, and culture will appreciate the island’s significance. Tsarabanjina Island is considered sacred by Malagasy, and you can hike across the island to visit the burial sites of Sakalava Kings.

It takes an hour and a half by boat to reach this private island, but you’ll be glad you made the extra effort! Constance Tsarabanjina does not disappoint.

Ask the Expert:

“Constance Tsarabanjina is the most pristine diving spot in Madagascar. It's an effort to get to (either a 90-minute boat ride or quick helicopter transfer) but well worth the effort. The water is clear, the coral is vibrant, and the marine life is plentiful!” -- Jenny Salentine, EJ Safari Specialist

9. Thonga Beach Lodge, South Africa

aerial shot of cone-roofed lodges nestled into a dense jungle hillside, overlooking an expansive beach and the wide-open sea.
Views from the Room at Thonga ©Thonga Beach Lodge

Thonga Beach Lodge, situated on South Africa’s Elephant Coast, is a fantastic choice for divers and ocean lovers who may not have the time or budget for a stay in Mozambique.

There are ample opportunities for snorkeling, birding, and even nocturnal turtle tracking (November to February) during your stay at Thonga. The SCUBA diving here is world-class, and you’ll likely see shoals of game fish, sharks, and bottlenose dolphins.

For a change of scenery, we recommend a morning kayaking excursion on Lake Sibaya, the largest freshwater lake in the world.

10. Rocktail Bay Beach Camp, South Africa

A young girl in a pink bathing suite snorkeling in shallow water off the coast at Rocktail Beach
Rocktail Beach is the perfect place for children and families. ©Rocktail Beach

If you’re looking for a more budget-conscious beach destination in South Africa, we recommend Rocktail Beach Camp. The property is not beachfront, and getting to the shore requires a fifteen-minute walk or a short drive. Nevertheless, the Elephant Coast is absolutely stunning, and Rocktail makes a great base for exploring all the region has to offer, including diving and snorkeling.

This property is also great for families. Several of the tents are family units with two bedrooms (one for the adults, one for the kids) and a shared bath. And there’s even a children’s playroom complete with board games and other activities.

We can help you pick the right place

  1. When choosing a diving destination in Africa, you’re spoiled for choice. Analysis paralysis is no fun, so let us do the planning for you! We’ll save you loads of time and energy, not to mention a few headaches.
  2. You don’t have to be a world-class diver to savor these incredible properties! With so many options, we can find the perfect marine safari destination for you. Describe your dream diving experience, and we’ll match you with a property (or two!) that will blow you away.
  3. Several properties have unique specialties to deliver a little something “extra.” An underwater room, dedicated play areas for kids, intimate accommodations perfect for a buddymoon, and properties with on-site diving certification--it’s all yours for the asking!
  4. Marine life abounds--onshore and off. Depending on the season and location, you can witness everything from the sardine run to rare dugongs to turtle-tracking night walks.
  5. If budget is a concern, there are a number of properties that make for a simple, cost-effective addition to your inland safari experience. Enjoy a day or two on the beach without breaking the bank!

Plan Your Diving Safari Today!

Ready to start planning your own incredible African diving adventure? We make the process stress-free and enjoyable. Call or email us today to explore your best options for a safari holiday you’ll never forget!

Then, start packing that suitcase because we’ve got all the details covered.

CONNECT with your personal travel expert.

Have you started planning your safari on your own? Are you totally overwhelmed with all the information out there? Let us help you cut through all the conflicting information online and start planning a safari that is completely tailored to you. Get in touch with us and we can discuss your travel passions and help you begin the planning process for your dream safari.

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Lara Ray