Experience the Magic of Zanzibar through Activities on Chumbe Island
Make sure that your perfect trip to Zanzibar includes a visit to Chumbe Island Coral Park! Our activities offer an unforgettable experience, from snorkelling in our protected waters of the Indian Ocean to exploring our private beach and taking a Coconut Crab Walk or Intertidal Walk. Get closer to nature on our Forest Walk, visit historical monuments, and browse a local artisan boutique.
All the following activities are included in your overnight stay on Chumbe Island. It is also possible to take a day trip to the island.
Day trips are possible to the Chumbe Island Coral Park. However, as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) we carefully manage the number of guests on the island at any time. Our facilities are primarily focused on our overnight guests, so we can only take day trip bookings when we have availability in our eco-lodge.
We can only book day trips four days before the day you would like to visit. You can check availability with the Chumbe office reservations team via phone or email.
Day Trip reservations & questions
+255 777 413 232
Day Trip rates: 2023-2024
Dates per person: All Year US$ 110
01 April – 03 June Island closed
* Children under two years free of charge
* Children under 12 years half price
- Boat transport to and from the island from partner hotel Jungle Paradise (former Mbweni Ruins Hotel) (meet at 9:30 am sharp for registration)
- Lunch, freshly cooked on the island
- Sodas, water and snacks
- Boat, guide and equipment for snorkelling
- Tuition in snorkelling, if required
- Snorkelling over one of East Africa’s most diverse coral reef
- Guided walk through the forest trails and inter-tidal area (if low tide)
- Access to climb to the top of a historic lighthouse
- Tour of an eco-bungalow
- Return boat leaves Chumbe Island at 4:30 pm arriving at Jungle Paradise Hotel at approximately 5:00 pm depending on sea conditions.
- All taxes (15% VAT inclusive)
Not included: Alcoholic drinks, which are available for purchase on the island. Items from our small boutique featuring products made by local artisans.
Accepted Payment Methods
- Credit card (Visa and MasterCard, plus 5% transaction fee)
- Cash at the boat departure point in US Dollars (newest denomination only, old series cannot be accepted) or Tanzania Shilling
- Bank transfer
Chumbe is considered one of the best shallow reef snorkelling experiences in East Africa. Snorkelling tours last about one hour and provide opportunities for discovery. Overnight guests are welcome to snorkel independently from the beach whenever the tides allow and upon informing the rangers.
Whether you are a snorkelling newcomer or a professional, our competent guides will ensure you get the most out of your adventure in a safe and responsible manner. All guests are expected to follow the internationally recognised UNEP/Green Fins code of conduct to ensure safety for yourself and the protection of the delicate coral reef.
The Chumbe Reef is a protected sanctuary, famous for its biodiversity, especially its’ hard coral diversity. At least 59 hard coral genera have been scientifically recorded, and these corals act like trees in a forest: they provide home, shelter and food for an array of marine species. Reef inhabitants include 525 identified reef fish species, microfauna and critters such as nudibranchs, sponges, molluscs, starfish, clams and other invertebrates, and megafauna such as hawksbill and green turtles, blacktip reef sharks and – if you are lucky – you might even spot dolphins!
Digital copies of our unique underwater photo guides (Volumes 1-6) are now available on our download page.
A trail circles the southern part of the dense coral rag forest on Chumbe Island. Venture this trail on your own or join our one-hour guided forest walk where you learn more about the island’s geology, plant adaptations to survive without groundwater, medicinal uses of local trees and shrubs and hidden fauna that are difficult to spot.
- the footpath leading down into a large, intertidal pool overgrown with mangroves and shaded by huge baobab trees. The seawater rises and falls with the tides and you may observe scurrying rock crabs and species adapted to these conditions
- under your feet where you can see the fossilized structures of corals and giant clams. Chumbe Island was once a thriving coral reef that became exposed when sea levels dropped more than 15,000 years ago. Try to identify these ancient 15,000-year-old fossils in the rocky, lunar landscape on the eastern side of the island where salt sprays from the sea prevent vegetation from settling
- the immersive experience of being surrounded by the most biodiverse coral rag forest habitat in the region, hosting ~180 plant species. See how many species you can identify with our ID cards, or learn about their medicinal uses from our guides.
- the island’s widlife. Spot birds playing in the thicket, hermit crabs crawling over leaves, speckle-lipped skinks chasing up trees, or yellow headed dwarf gecko’s resting on the ground. If you are very lucky you might even spot the elusive and critically endangered Aders Duiker antelope that tend to stay in northern part of island
Coconut Crab Walk
Our lodge guests can join this evening encounter with giant coconut crabs in the coral rag forest. These crabs (Birgus latro) can reach up to 45 cm in diameter and are the largest living land crabs in the world! During the day, they hide in caves and crevices, but after sunset, they roam around looking for food. Although coconuts are their preferred diet, they are scavengers and eat almost everything they can find.
Intertidal walks, circling the whole island are only possible during spring low tides (at new and full moon). However shorter intertidal walks are possible at most low tides. ‘Intertidal’ refers to a shore area covered by seawater at high tide and exposed during low tide. On Chumbe Island, intertidal walks are only possible during spring low tides (at new and full moon), when the tide is low enough to explore rocky pools and seagrass meadows without snorkelling or even swimming. Guided intertidal walks are led by our experienced rangers, who are familiar with the shore, ensure safety and will show you fascinating marine species that are often camouflaged and well-adapted to tidal extremes.
When the tide is very low, it is possible to walk around the entire island in a bit over one hour. Upon reaching the north point of the island, you can then bask on the exposed sandbar of over a kilometre of pristine beach. At the south point you can walk through our starfish lagoon to reach the small islets, where you may be fortunate to see fish eagles battling for territory.
Birding and other wildlife observations
For twitchers, our bird hide gives you an ideal vantage point to see some of the island’s 77 species of birds. This could include the mangrove kingfisher (Halcyon senegaloides) and the majestic paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis).
At the shore, you will see a range of herons, egrets, the african fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) and sandpipers. Around the eco-lodge you might also spot some of our 26 species of butterfly, including the southern and eastern races of the African monarch (Danaus chrysippus). At dusk or early morning, be on the look-out for any of Chumbe’s five resident bat species, including the giant leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros commersoni), Wahlberg’s fruit bat (Epomophorus wahlbergi), and the white-bellied free-tailed bat (Tadarida limbate).
The Visitor Centre
The impressive structure of the Education Centre houses Chumbe’s key operation centres, including a classroom for education and the restaurant with terraces overlooking the Indian Ocean. The immense roof structure has been built over the restored ruins of the former lighthouse keepers’ house, and includes information and exhibits about the Chumbe nature reserve for all our visitors.
Climb the 132 steps to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy spectacular views of the turquoise seas between Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, still plied by dhows unchanged for a thousand years.
This historic lighthouse was built by the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British in 1904 and was restored with the start of the Chumbe Project in the 1990s. This important historic monument falls under the jurisdiction of the Zanzibar Ports Corporation (ZPC) and remains a vital navigation aid for the region. It was powered by an AGA gas mechanism since the 1920s and updated in 2013 to function through a solar system.
The historic mosque on Chumbe Island is one of the few mosques of Indian architecture in Zanzibar, built for the Indian lighthouse keeper by their community at the turn of the century. It is used by our Muslim team members and guests are welcome to visit upon request.
Escape it all to the sounds of waves breaking on the beach and birds singing in thetrees. On this private island, tranquillityis assured.
The island has an array of secluded beach huts, sun loungers and swinging beds for you to relax and enjoy at leisure.
A book exchange is available in the Visitor Centre, as well as a small selection of games and drawing materials. There are also a range of wildlife guidebooks to help you identify the species of birds, butterflies, inter-tidal species and other fauna and flora you might see in this tropical nature paradise.
Local Artisan Boutique
A small boutique is located in our Visitor Centre, selling locally made sustainable, fair-trade and recycled products and Chumbe-related memorabilia. This includes our much sought-after Chumbe Cookbook and a range of community-produced handicrafts.
Sales of boutique items supports the small enterprises and local livelihoods of Chumbe’s neighbouring villages and associated organisations.