Snorkeling off Pemba Island, Zanzibar

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
Trip End Dec 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Sunset Beach Resort Zanzibar Nungwi
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
Dolphins, Snorkeling off Pemba Island

Flag of Tanzania  , Zanzibar Archipelago,
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After the snorkeling trip today, I will try to get on the internet; no wi-fi here.

Our first experience was the dolphin sighting.  Even though swimming with the dolphins was not on the schedule, the motorized dhow followed the dolphins and let people out to try to swim with them.  After my last experience, I decided to watch from the boat in order to give myself a better opportunity to see them since my swimming ability isn't strong enough to bring me close to them generally.  They were a beautiful sight - fins skimming the surface of the water in pairs and trios, then some arching bodies as they dove back into the water.  Juliet was very excited because she was able to follow a mother and baby so closely that she could have touched them.

The snorkeling was fantastic:  Right in the beginning, I saw close-knit groups of small yellow-orange fish and some black and white striped and brownish fish and some blue and yellow flat fat fish as well as white-yellow and black angel-type fish.  So many all in one spot.   I gave the Fuji camera to Juliet to take photos because I was still having trouble figuring out whether it was on or off because of the screen glare. 

Later on in the same area, I swam over the amazingly diverse coral and still saw some fish but never again so many in one place.  There was a larger blue-turquoise fish and at the very end when I went back in I saw a bunch of long dark eel-like fish near the sandy bottom.  I had had some trouble with my mask and snorkel so I went on board and got a new set and went out for a second time.  I was considering myself quite brave because I was swimming with just the fins and no life jacket this time.

After snorkeling we had a beach BBQ with grilled tuna, rice with a sauce, and pineapple and mango slices.  On our walk to the beach, we were cautioned to watch out for the sand blades, a sort of mollusk with razor-sharp edges.  I wasn't seeing them, but one of the crew took my hand as I was trying to wend my way avoiding these creatures and told me to walk in his footsteps.  Juliet watched as I teetered between various sea urchins along the path.  On the way back, the tide had come in and apparently there was no danger.  I managed to get back to the boat unaided and unscathed.

On the way back we hoped we could sail but they said there was not enough wind.  Meanwhile we passed a stunning sight of about 50 dhows sailing out to catch fish.  This was mid-afternoon by now.  All during this trip we were struck by the beauty of the waters around the island:  the bright white sand, the silhouettes of the boats against the brilliant blue sky.  At one point the sky and water colors blended so perfectly, the horizon almost disappeared.  It was truly idyllic.

After the snorkeling excursion, Juliet and I thought about a quick dip as we landed and as I obsessed about my trifling valuables, Juliet located Kellie and we saddled her briefly with our stuff...chatting to find out what she was up to.  Juliet convinced me to go for a walk but somehow we got a dalla dalla (local transport truck with banks of seats along sides of truck bed and side panels decorated with elaborate scroll-work) most of the way and walked a short bit to the lighthouse.  A guard immediately popped out to warn us about taking photos.   I had been my usual nay-sayer to Juliet's plans, but the dalla dalla ride was delightful.  Three young boys remained after they pushed grocery shop supplies out to a little kisok and they sang the Jambo song while the fiery red ball of sun lowered in the West over the trees.  It was another magical moment.

On the snorkeling trip, while talking to Herbert (the Dutch man sitting next to me), Juliet formulated a plan to fly from Stone Town to Dar es Salaam using Herbert's Zanzibar travel agent.  She also managed to call Chris and cancel our Dar es Salaam pick-up to the airport.  Our ferry ticket may go to waste though since it doesn't appear to be transferable.

On the way back, after being picked up at the rotary by the lighthouse, we were deposited back at the hotel reception by our privately-engaged dalla dalla.  We went to dinner at the restaurant next door where I had some calamari.  We saw Kellie and Matt - the only others left from our group.  Now it was late:  around 9 pm - past bedtime.

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