Scuba Diving In The Quirimbas

Dive sites in the Quirimbas Archipelago reefs are off the Pemba coast, a largely unexplored and remote area, which makes for a rather exciting exploration. Diving here will take you under the still surface of the Indian Ocean to a colourful playing field. The types of sea life that can be discovered and delighted in here are plentiful; they range from beautiful marine coral to huge game fish and unexplored discoveries.

Clownfish and angelfish, sharks and over rays, whales and dugongs can all be found in the turquoise waters. There are numerous sites ranging in depth, size and proximity from the coast; which means you will be able to find a site suitable for all sorts of weather.

Suggested diving resorts in the area:
Azura Quilelea
Guludo Beach Lodge
Londo Lodge
Medjumbe Private Island
Pemba Beach Hotel
Vamizi Island

The Gap – Depth: 12-16m

About 15 minutes by boat from Pemba Hotel, The Gap is actually an area south of the hotel, two thirds the way out to Ponta Maunhane, where the continental shelf comes very close to land. 600m offshore you have an almost sheer drop from 12m-16m down to anywhere between 80m and 120m. This is the area where we see all the big game fish coming through.

Pyro Banks – Depth: 5-15m

About 15 minutes out by boat, in the same area as The Gap, this is one of our shallow reefs, which starts off at 5m and runs down to 15m. Huge selections of coral razorfish are often found on the grassy patches at the beginning of the reef and there are guaranteed paper fish sightings. Visit our underwater boutique and have your nails cleaned by a station of hinge beaked shrimps.

Playground – Depth: 12m

About 20 minutes out by boat, on the northern peninsula of Pemba Bay, we have a shallow wall dive which drops from about 4m to 12m. Huge overhangs and caves are everywhere stuffed full of dusky sweepers, shrimps, firefish and scorpionfish. There is a cave with more than 20 crayfish packed inside. There have been reported sightings of dwarf zebra lionfish and other unusual discoveries. Unfortunately, this reef can only be dived in good weather conditions due to its proximity to cliffs.

Ponta Saide Ali – Depth: 21m

Also about 20 minutes out by boat, around the corner from Playground, is a reef with a huge bank of clubhorn and contoured coral, which slopes from 2m down to about 21m. Marvel at sightings of flying gurnards and Rinopius scorpionfish. Another favourite on this spot is the Valley of a Thousand Anemones, where we are sure Nemo is still hiding!

River Mouth – Depth: 24m

About an hour from the hotel, a reef is situated in the mouth of the Tari River. This reef runs between 3m and 24m deep and consists mainly of huge boulders strewn everywhere, where big potato bass and huge Napoleon Wrass hide underneath and shoals of gamefish pass overhead. Diving is only possible when it is high tide due to the flow of the river affecting visibility.

Farrol Ledge – Depth: 16m

Situated off the lighthouse on Ponta Maunhane, about 25 minutes out by boat, this reef is a ledge packed with coral and a variety of coral fish. The ledge starts at 6m-8m, and drops down to 16m, containing many little bays. The reef is quite long and one could do 2 different dives on the same reef.

Willy’s Reef – Depth: 16m

This reef is about 30 minutes out by boat and lies about a quarter of the way between Playground and the river mouth. The reef is flat, with a 2-3m high ridge on the one side, and is about 10m-16m deep. Big orbicular batfish, small blue spotted rays and floral morays have been spotted here.

Baobab Rocks – Depth: 18m

About 25 minutes by boat, just a little further into the bay from Ponta Saide Ali, this reef is a string of boulders and rocks lying on a sandy slope, with an abundance of life around them. Depth is around 5m-18m. Crocodile fish have been found here.

Whipcoral Garden – Depth: 15m

About 30 minutes out to sea by boat, this dive is a cluster of underwater hills rising from about 15m to about 5m. These hills are covered in whip coral and all sorts of various soft coral and barrel sponges. This is a good dive in the back of the bay, which makes it an excellent alternative when the weather is bad outside of the bay.

Penguin Shoal – Depth: 18m

Almost at the centre of the bay, about 35 minutes out by boat is a reef between 8m and 18m. It consists of big banks of club horn, contoured, and brain coral it also boasts a spectacular whip of coral forest and has some of the biggest crayfish in the area.

Beach Reef – Depth: 17m

This is one of the newly discovered reefs and is situated a little further up the coast from Willy’s Reef, making it about 20 minutes in the boat from the hotel. The reef itself is best described as being a gentle slope with a diversity of marine and coral life.


The Ranch – Depth: 8m

The Ranch is not a reef as such, but rather a sandy slope with patches of grass growing on it. This spot is situated next to the port and it takes about 25 minutes to get there.
The visibility is not normally great (between 5 to 8 metres), but it more than makes up for this with its prized offering – seahorses. This is seahorse territory in Pemba and has many other treats in store for divers – the area is basically a nursery for all sorts of strange and wonderful sea critters.
Be sure to bring the camera along because we found a tiny Anglerfish as well as a baby Dwarf Lionfish hiding in the grass beds. This area is shallow enough to spend the whole day exploring.

Sailfish Tree – Depth: 46m

This site is past River Mouth and is one of the farthest away, at about 1 hours boat ride from the hotel. The reef is one of the best coral and fish dive sites around and the wide range of marine life won’t disappoint. The dive starts on a coral bed sitting about 16 metres in depth and turns into a wall that drops down further to about 46 metres. This is a great dive site to spot some huge Napoleon Wrasse and other game fish.

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