Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Our experience swimming with dolphins off the coast of Southern Unguja (Zanzibar). What a treat to swim with them in their natural habitat!

Our experience swimming with dolphins off the coast of Southern Unguja (Zanzibar). What a treat to swim with them in their natural habitat!

When we were planning our trip to Africa we were excited to see many different kinds of animals. I would have never thought we would be able to see dolphins, let alone swim alongside them in the ocean.

In our last days in Zanzibar we planned to go on a dolphin tour.  The morning of our adventure it was pouring rain. But we went for it anyway and had the most amazing experience!

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

A driver came and picked us up from our hotel in Pongwe at 5am.  About ten minutes down the road he stopped and picked up our guide for the morning.  I was taken by surprise that he was in a dress shirt and pants and taking us to swim with dolphins.

We must have been one of only a few tours as he was very enthusiastic to tell us about where we were going and what to see along the way.  I unfortunately was still half asleep and dozed off, so I missed out on some of the information he was sharing with us.

The car ride was about an hour to the Southern part of the island.  Luckily when we got there it wasn’t raining as hard, and the water was warm enough to swim.  Our guide gave us a briefing about what kinds of dolphins we may see.  The three he said to look out for were bottlenose, humpback, and spinner dolphins.




After changing into our swimsuits we grabbed a couple lifejackets, snorkels and flippers. Our guide hailed down one of the boat captains and we were off.  It was only about 15 minutes before we saw the dolphins and jumped into the water.

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

The boat captain told us to get ready and have on our goggles, snorkel and flippers.  Then he drove us a few meters away from the dolphins and said “Jump! Jump!” so I jumped in with all the gear.  The first couple of times my goggles came off and filled with water, and I swallowed some salt water that got into the snorkel.  I could hear the boat captain saying “Look down! Look down!” But I was just trying to swim and stay afloat.

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

It didn’t help I was also trying to take pictures and videos with one hand, and trying to paddle with the other.  Let’s just say the first photos weren’t the best.  Plus I was getting super exhausted as I had to pull myself up into the boat over and over.

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Finally I got the hang of just jumping in the water.  It was totally worth the first few failures as I got to see so many dolphins swimming by in their natural habitat.




Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

There must have been two or three groups of them.  One pod must have had five or six swimming together.  Our guide said they were bottlenose dolphins. They were super playful and very elegant in the water.

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Unlike fish, they would swim upside down, or to the top of the surface and then back down to the bottom.  They didn’t seem to care about the people or boats around them.  They made lots of noises as if they were singing to each other.

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

 

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

Luckily I was able to take a few pictures and a couple videos before I was completely exhausted from this hard workout.

After we said we were good (but really I couldn’t pull myself into the boat anymore) they took us back to shore.  The locals had cut us some fruit and poured us some instant coffee.  Our guide was very eager to take us to see more sights but we just wanted to get back and relax.  It was quite an eventful morning getting to swim with dolphins in the wild.

I highly recommend this once in a lifetime chance to swim with the dolphins in Zanzibar.  Just make sure you can wake up early enough to catch them at sunrise! And remember, don’t try to chase or touch the dolphins, just enjoy observing them swim all around you.

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Swimming with dolphins in Zanzibar is a unique experience! Read all about our tour to Southern Unguja to swim with these bottlenose dolphins

16 thoughts on “Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar

  • February 12, 2018 at 10:43 am
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    Looks like you had a ball of a time swimming with these friendly little creatures! Africa gives the stereotype of arid deserts, so it’s great to see such experiences break the preconceived notions people have 🙂

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    • February 12, 2018 at 9:56 pm
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      Thanks Nathan, we totally did! Tanzania was awesome because we could get a little bit of both worlds – arid plains/safari life AND a tropical beach getaway.

      Reply
  • February 12, 2018 at 11:55 am
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    What a beautiful experience! I’d love to swim with dolphins too! They are so lovely and friendly. You are so lucky to have done this. We have tried dolphin watching here in the Philippines too and sadly they did not allow swimming with the dolphins while doing the activity.

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    • February 12, 2018 at 10:00 pm
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      Thanks Marvi! Dolphin watching in the Philippines would be just as nice. My sister-in-law went swimming with the whale sharks in Cebu – that is something we also want to try!

      Reply
  • February 15, 2018 at 12:48 am
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    While I have often got glimpses of a dolphin’s fins while it crossed us on a river cruise or while I was sitting on the banks of a sea, I never had a chance to see a dolphin swim and dance under the water. What an experience it must have been for you to have got an opportunity to swim with the dolphins!! Would love to experience it some day.

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    • February 15, 2018 at 5:43 am
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      Thank Neha! It was such a special experience. I never thought they would get that close! I hope you get to experience it one day.

      Reply
  • February 15, 2018 at 6:02 am
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    It must have been a great experience swimming with dolphins and seeing their antics underwater! I am jealous!!! 🙂 I had immensely liked scuba diving and now I am waiting to explore this also.

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    • February 15, 2018 at 6:23 am
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      Thanks you guys! It really was such a cool experience! Having them swim all around me was amazing, something I never thought I would get to do.
      I’ve never tried scuba diving but it seems like it would be amazing as well.

      Reply
  • February 16, 2018 at 7:41 pm
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    That’s a lot of dolphins. I would like to swim with them, too. You’re fortunate to be able to do that. I understand how hard it was to swim and took pictures at the same time. I was lucky when doing snorkeling tour last summer, the tour guide and the local man could take pictures of us. So we didn’t have to worry about it.

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    • February 17, 2018 at 4:02 am
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      I know, there were so many! Definitely feel very fortunate to have had the experience.
      That’s awesome your tour guide was able to take the photos for you so you didn’t have to worry about it! Makes it easier to enjoy and focus on the snorkeling.

      Reply
  • February 17, 2018 at 6:16 am
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    OMG. The pictures say it all! How I wish I could do this like right now. Have been able to spot dolphins in my life so far but never had the chance to swim along. I hear Zanzibar is a great place to enjoy sea life.

    Reply
    • February 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm
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      Thanks Preethika! I hope you get to experience it one day. Swimming with them is such a unique experience. Zanzibar is full of cool adventures.

      Reply
  • February 18, 2018 at 6:18 pm
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    Here in Florida we fortunately get to see dolphins all the time, but they always bring a smile to my face. Such lovely creatures and smart too. We just landed from a trip to Iceland, we whale watching but only saw dolphins. It was still wonderful to see how excited children from all over the world got when the Dolphins put on a little show!

    Reply
    • February 19, 2018 at 1:53 am
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      Oh that’s awesome you get to see them all the time where you live! Here where we live in Victoria, BC we actually see whales quite often so we’re fortunate for that. That’s funny that you went whale watching but only saw dolphins!

      Reply
  • February 18, 2018 at 11:51 pm
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    Wow, what an amazing experience! Like you, I never would have thought about swimming with dolphins during an Africa trip since there are so many other animals that come to mind first, but thanks for enlightening us 🙂

    Reply
    • February 19, 2018 at 1:54 am
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      Thanks Bruce! Yes, we loved Tanzania because it had both safari wildlife AND beautiful beaches and sea life!

      Reply

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