Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline is home to several of the world’s top dive sites: divers can look forward to kaleidoscopes of pristine coral; clear views of morays, turtles and mantas; clouds of colourful fish in aquarium-like settings and giant pelagic fish patrolling steep-sided drop-offs. Below are five lodges close to the best diving in Africa, private retreats that offer you the chance to explore below the waves while staying in barefoot luxury.
1. Fundu Lagoon, Tanzania
Pemba Island is one of Tanzania’s most beautiful island attractions, a laidback tropical paradise, that may be small but what it lacks in size it makes up for with its wild, natural beauty. Fundu Lagoon is set in a forest on the west side of Pemba Island and is the essence of remote luxury and is one of the best diving resorts in Africa.
Fundu Lagoon specialises in diving and snorkelling. Qualified staff from their fully equipped PADI dive centre lead daily dives to sites in the Pemba Channel and around Misali Island – complete with courses and all necessary diving equipment. The reefs around Pemba have a steep drop off, and conditions can be challenging, with some site prone to strong currents. Divers can choose between mesmerising shallows to more daring adventures where hammerheads and barracudas can be seen.
Best for: Experienced divers, beginners courses, a luxury beach resort experience.
2. Ephelia Resort, Seychelles
Situated on one of Mahé Island's most beautiful beaches and overlooking a national marine park is Ephelia Resort, one of our favourites in the Seychelles. The visibility in the bay is very clear, offering amazing diving opportunities close to the resort itself, and is arguably one of Africa’s best dive locations.
Popular dive sites close to the resort include Trois Bank where visibility stretches up to 23 meters and is ideal for more experienced open-water divers. Expect to see beautiful coral formations and granite rock, as well as grey reef sharks, octupuses, eagle rays, barracudas and even moray eels.
Dredger Wreck is just 20 minutes by boat from Ephelia and is suitable for divers with open-water experience. There's a small dregder to explore and a variety of tropical fish can be spotted too. Ephelia Resort offers some of the best value in the Seychelles with two beaches, a kids club, a variety of activities and facilities on offer and dramatic hilltop villas to take in the exceptional scenery.
Best for: Wreck dives and night dives, beginners courses, a full-scale luxury resort experience.
3. Mnemba Island Lodge, Zanzibar
Lying just off the northern tip of Zanzibar, tiny Mnemba Island is surrounded by vibrant coral reefs bursting with life. Conditions here are ideal: warm water, excellent visibility, and sites ranging from shallow coral gardens to advanced drift dives. You also have a good chance of swimming with pods of playful dolphins, their squeals and clicks filling your deep blue surrounds.
A tropical island paradise in every sense of the word, Mnemba Island Lodge has just 10 palm-frond bandas tucked away in a forest fringed by white powdery sand - it's the kind of place where you take your shoes off on arrival and don’t put them on again until you leave. Your butler sets up private dinners in surprise locations; green turtles nest on the beaches you stroll on, and you’re never expected to share your perfect stretch of sand with anyone else.
Best For: Dives for every level of experience, an exclusive and romantic getaway.
4. Thonga Beach Lodge, South Africa
Thonga Beach Lodge offers some of the best diving in the world and is a best-kept secret because of its remoteness. Thonga Beach Lodge is set on the azure shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is where you can submerge yourself into a world of life and colour.
More than 1,200 species of fish are found in these reefs, and because of the protected status, the fish don’t panic when divers approach and are ideal subjects for photographers. The warm Indian Ocean waters also attract huge schools of bottlenose dolphin as well as sharks, whale sharks and turtles. Conditions are good through the year and on a perfect day, visibility can reach up to 40 metres.
Scuba training is available at the on-site PADI dive centre and the lodge has the exclusive right to launch a boat from its own private beach. It’s one of the best scuba diving resorts on the African continent, making it an unrivalled beach and marine wilderness sanctuary.
Best For: Dives for every level of experience, a remote, eco-friendly beach holiday.
5. Coral Lodge, Mozambique
Once an important but treacherous trading route, this part of Mozambique’s northern coastline is littered with numerous shipwrecks dating back centuries. Their hulking remains have created the foundations for teeming reefs and you may see broken Chinese porcelain, trading beads or even old Portuguese coins lying on the ocean floor.
Coral Lodge has an incredible location, set as it is on a tip of land between two sand-rimmed bays, and is one of the best diving resorts in Africa. From the lodge’s infinity pool you can gaze across at Ilha de Mozambique, the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa and now a World Heritage Site. And there’s plenty to do between dives: snorkel in the warm lagoon, canoe through mangrove forests, visit a local village or catch the dhow across to Ilha - its crumbling buildings and twisting alleyways make for fantastic photography.
Best For: Wreck dives, a classic beach holiday with a historical and cultural twist.
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