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Swimming with Turtles in Zanzibar: Where to Find Them?

Zanzibar is one of Tanzania’s most beautiful islands, offering its visitors rich marine life and a specific experience that you’ll never forget: swimming with turtles! But where exactly can you go deep with these green cuties? We’ll tell you!

Where Can I Swim with Turtles in Zanzibar?

While turtles can be found in several parts of the island, there are actually only two places in Zanzibar where you can swim with them, feed them, and get closer to them than anywhere else: the Baraka Natural Aquarium and the Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Pond. They’re both located in Nungwi Beach, which is often considered one of the best beaches in Tanzania.

Woman with snorkel and diving goggles under water close to corals

The Baraka Natural Aquarium

Despite its name, it’s not an actual aquarium, but a natural lagoon that was formed by the erosion of coral bedrock. This sanctuary and rehabilitation centre takes care of turtles who were purchased from fishermen, injured by getting caught in fishing nets, have buoyancy issues, or were hurt in any other way. Here they can recover and will eventually be released again into the lagoon. To actually meet them in the ocean, simply put on your swimming googles, grab your snorkel and take the plunge.

Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Pond

This conservation pond is also known as the Nungwi Mnarani Aquarium – a non-profit organization whose main mission is to protect the turtles and revert the decline in their population. The local community brings turtle eggs they find so that they can hatch. Once a year, in February, the newly-hatched baby turtles as well as the injured adult ones that have recovered, are released back into the ocean… big smiles guaranteed (maybe even some happy tears).

Two baby turtles crawling in the sand

Other Turtle Locations in Zanzibar

Next to these best places to swim with turtles, there are some other spots around Zanzibar where you can get close to them while snorkelling:

Even though actually seeing them is not always guaranteed, you have a greater chance of it happening here. And should you not encounter them the first time round, try again and again. One day, luck will be on your side.

What to Know Before Swimming with Turtles in Zanzibar

Swimming with Zanzibar turtles is no doubt exciting, but there are things you should do and be aware of beforehand to make sure that it’s safe:

  • Always follow the aquarium’s guidelines. This one might be a no-brainer, but it still needs to be said. Guidelines are there for a reason – the aquarium knows best how to take care of their turtles, and that’s why those rules are in place.
  • Don’t force the turtles to interact. Turtles are not aggressive in nature, but they can (and will) bite if they feel threatened or uncomfortable, so avoid getting too close to them. Instead, let them come to you on their own terms. Better yet, keep a safe distance from them at all times.
  • Don’t try to dive if you’re not confident in your skills. Nothing is more important than your safety. So if you’re not confident in your swimming ability, wear a life jacket and play it safe.

Close-up of Loggerhead Turtle in Zanzibar

Hooked? We get it! After all, swimming with turtles is an unforgettable experience that you’ll be reliving time and again. Have a look at our holiday options that involve Zanzibar, and don’t forget to book your turtle experience well in advance. Message us, and we’re more than happy to help you with this!

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