Whether you’re a seasoned diving enthusiast or just learning how to dive, these safari lodges with a focus on the world below the surface 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 ten of 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! From Seychelles to Zanzibar and plenty of places in between, here are nine stunning lodges you won’t want to miss!
1. The Manta Resort: Pemba Island, Tanzania
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 many options 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.
Tip: 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 Resort. 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, Safari Specialist
2. Kinasi Lodge: Mafia Island, Tanzania
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. Its design 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, Safari Specialist
3. Mnemba Island Lodge: Zanzibar, Tanzania
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 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 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.
5. Azura Benguerra: Benguerra Island, Mozambique
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. Alphonse Island Resort: Seychelles
Alphonse Island Resort is tucked away on a private island in Seychelles in one of the world’s healthiest underwater 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
7. Constance Tsarabanjina: Madagascar
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, Safari Specialist
8. Thonga Beach Lodge: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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.
9. Kaya Mawa, Likoma Island, Malawi
Want to escape to lakeside paradise? Kaya Mawa, which translates to ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ is a unique tropical treasure tucked away on the shoreline of Likoma Island on Lake Malawi.
Malawi is known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ because of the welcoming smiles which greet you wherever you go, but this also comes to life when you experience the gentle embrace of its colossal horizon-stretching inland lake.
Below the surface a kaleidoscope of pristine freshwater ecosystems thrives. It is one of the world’s deepest lakes, and it is widely recognized as one of the best freshwater diving locations in the world. Visibility can reach 98 feet at the best times of year (September to December). During this time, the many endemic species of cichlid fish begin their complex mating rituals. They do mouth brooding which is fascinating to witness: after the female releases the eggs and the male fertilizes them, she gathers them carefully in her mouth where they remain until they hatch into fry.
Kaya Mawa’s PADI Resort offers the best spots to explore the diverse aquatic life, guided by a knowledgeable Divemaster. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, the crystal-clear, warm waters and fascinating rock formations will leave you mesmerized.
We can help you pick the right place
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!