To be honest, where we based ourselves in Zanzibar didn’t provide us with much choice when it came to choosing a dive center, One Ocean at Matewme Beach Village was the only obvious choice.
Just a couple of minutes up the beach from where we were staying the dive center had mostly positive reviews and certainly has the look of a well run dive centre. We first approached them about a refresher course as it had been almost 2.5 years since our last dive (shocking I know) and quickly had a short theory and pool session booked in for the following day.
The theory session turned out to be a quick multiple choice question paper followed by a quick discussion about any answers we didn’t get right (luckily not very many) and then it was straight off into the pool. The refresher session consisted of everything you might expect, emptying and removing your mask, recovering your regulator and out of air situations. It was all easy enough but more than anything got us used to the equipment again and very excited to get booked in for the next morning for our first taste of diving in Zanzibar.
7:00am isn’t my favourite time of the morning to wake up but I didn’t mind as much when it meant going diving for the first time in so long. The boat was already loaded up with the gear we’d tried on the previous day so all we had to do was climb aboard and wait to arrive at the first dive site. We’d overheard talk of dolphins since arriving in Zanzibar and it didn’t take them long to make a brief appearance ahead of the boat, although seeing them again after surfacing from one of the dives we were never lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them underwater although we were told it does happen from time to time.
It took around 40 minutes to reach the first dive site and we were quickly helped to kit up and get in the water.
Our favourite dive was probably the most simple, a shallow dive along ‘Small Wall’. I don’t think we’ve ever been surrounded by so many fish, whether it was the hundred or so butterfly fish that swam between us as a constant chaperon or the larger scholes in the blue opposite the reef constantly changing formation. With the sunlight shining in from above it felt like we were swimming in some fancy restaurants perfect tropical aquarium. Nothing too exciting but very beautiful nonetheless.
The highlights of our four dives off Mnemba Island (just off Zanzibar, it’s surroudning reefs being home to the most popular dive sites in the area) included a couple of baby sharks, some large grouper, many colourful nudibrachs and a pair of octopuses fighting. We’ve only come across an octopus buried deep within a cave before so to see them out on the open was amazing, as we approached they were changing colour as they tried to scare the other or became frightened and when they saw us one turned black and darted off while the other blended perfectly into the surroundings, only letting on to its whereabouts by occasionally opening it’s eyes. I turned around as we swam off to see it slowly change colour again and creep off across the reef.
All of the dive sites off Mnemba Island are relatively close together which means although the boat seemed quite full and many other boats turned up in the area, we never bumped into more than one other group underwater. The groups were also small and during our two days with One Ocean Dive Centre we never saw a group larger than 4 including a dive master, usually just a buddy team and a dive master.
The One Ocean boat leaves for dives directly outside the resort on the beach but returns to another beach further up the coast because of the tides, it’s about a 40-minute journey back to the resort in Dive Centers mini van. Water is provided on the boat as well as lots of snacks and some amazing spice tea for between dives. All of the staff were very friendly and all seemed very knowledgably about diving and the area where they worked, plus like everyone else on this island they all seemed up for a laugh.
Diving is not cheap on Zanzibar especially when you’re used to Asia prices like us. We paid $255 each for the four dives including full equipment rental and $30 each for the refresher course. Despite the cost (it’s only getting more expensive as we head to Pemba Island) we would happily dive with One Ocean again.