We’d read that the best snorkeling in Zanzibar was NOT where we would be. Too bad, we thought, and dismissed the idea of snorkeling while on the trip. However, sometimes what is not supposed to be the best turns out to be good enough.
Casa del Mar offered a morning of snorkeling for $12/ each for 4 of us. The price was right! We met Captain Hajddi, on the steps down to the beach. Far out in the distance, across the sandy flat at low tide, we could see his barely visible boat, a dhow named Nakwenda. We waded across the sand flats, dipped into shallow pools of water, skirted the villages’ seaweed farm plots, and walked around rock piles curing coconut fibers (in preparation for rope making).
The water was only about a foot deep when we reached the Nakwenda, climbing easily to board.
Hajddi took a pole, pushed off, and, as the boat started to move, he and his first mate, also named Hajddi, hoisted sail. We were off, gliding on top of the water out towards the coral reef.
The water never appeared deep. We could see dark shadows of coral below in the clear turquoise water. The sail was lowered, snorkeling gear handed out, and we eased ourselves into the warm water.
We floated over sea stars, corals, clams, sea urchins, and schools of fish in clear water. Our friend, Betsy, dove to the bottom for a few unusual shells. We snorkeled as long as we wanted. We were on island time.
When finally we were ready to leave, the sail was raised and the Nakwenda surged forward. When the dhow leaned to the side, Hajddi leaped on to the outrigger, and the boat responded by righting itself.
We’d never sailed on a dhow before. The snorkeling was very good, but – unexpectedly – the journey on the dhow may have been the highlight of our day.