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Travel bucket list idea:

Swim with whale sharks in Zanzibar

  • Mafia Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 21 March, 2024

From October to March, the west coast of Mafia Island offers one of the best opportunities to snorkel with the magnificent whale shark.

The biggest fish in the sea, growing up to 12m long with giant gaping maws, these harmless, plankton-feeders are attracted here in numbers by (it is believed) the krill-rich discharge of a nearby shrimp hatchery.

The sharks are massive, but completely harmless, and wild – they’re not fed or enticed towards swimmers. Whale sharks are fast swimmers; watch them pass by, then hop back on the boat to get in front of them again. For the shark’s wellbeing, though, don’t try to touch them or get too close.

Close to shore, and requiring only basic swimming ability, this world-beating experience is also highly accessible.


Price from: £60
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around
Duration: 4 hours

Getting there & doing it

During the season, sightings are common, with up to 25 sharks at once sometimes seen. Snorkelling takes place 100m offshore from Kilindoni Harbour in groups of 6-8 (private group hire is possible). There’s no minimum age, but children should be able to snorkel.

When to do it

The whale sharks are present from October to March.

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Kitu Kiblu

  • Mafia Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Kitu Kiblu


Kitu Kiblu

Whale shark conservation organisation that operates whale shark snorkelling trips on Mafia Island, out of Kilindoni Harbour.