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Dive Review of One Ocean/Ocean Paradise in
Africa/Zanzibar, Tanzania

One Ocean/Ocean Paradise, Sep, 2012,

by Henry O Ziller, CO, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 25 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 6733.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Mexico, Belize, Cayman, Honduras, Tobago, Bahamas, Dominica, St. Kitts, Pohnpei, Curacao, Hawaii, Lake Powell, Philippines, Palau, Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 75 to 77 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions depth and time restricted. surface with 50 bar
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments This review covers diving in Zanzibar, Tanzania and an African safari in Tanzania.
Coming from Colorado getting to Tanzania requires connections somewhere in Europe or Africa. Our choice was in London since we had miles on American who are partnered with British Airways. We had several hours each way at Heathrow so we stayed at Yotel in Terminal 4 but not inside the secured area. Rooms are very small, impressively efficient and work well for a nights stay. The train/bus takes you to all other terminals for flights.
JM Tours LTD (jmtours@habari.co.tz ) arranged our domestic flights, hotels, transfers and safari. We flew on Precision Air within the country and were satisfied with everything except one flight when my wife was required to check her backpack (GoLite) because it was over 7 kilo. She actually packed 2 ½ weeks of clothing in one backpack and always looked nice. Mine was also over but looked smaller. Planes were all Dash 8s and our big backpacks fit in the overhead. The hotel before and after the safari was the Kibo Palace in Arusha. It was a nice hotel with pool, exercise room and spa. In Zanzibar we stayed at Ocean Paradise which was also well appointed.
The safari:
We were met at Kibo Palace by our safari driver and the vehicle of choice for safaris, a Toyota Land Cruiser (10 ply tires, two spares, and two gas tanks) with a pop up roof. We loaded up for the road trip of a couple hours on paved highway. The first park was Tarangire National Park where we stayed at Tarangire Safari Lodge. The lodge had a main building with a restaurant and lounge. Rooms were individual tents with running water, hot water shower, western toilet all separated from the bed area. Very nice stay. We saw giraffes, zebras, lions, cheetahs, elephants, ostrich, baboons, wildebeest, and many of the antelope family. The road to Serengeti National Park is a gravel road that is very rough and dusty. The procedure is roll up the windows when a car is passing then back down. The vehicle is air conditioned, but it did not seem to work very well unless you were in the front seat. The stay at Serengeti Safari Lodge was a bit more rustic, but had a tent with separate shower and toilet area, just no running water. Hot water for showers consisted of a staff member asking if you are ready for your shower and then hoisting a bucket of hot water up on a pole and dumping it into a larger bucket that gravity feeds to your shower. It actually works quite well. You can request more if needed. A sink is available for washing but water is poured from containers, one hot and one cold. Meals are in a large tent (mess hall) and were quite good, especially considering the remoteness of the area. Beer wine and liquor are available at $4, $5, and Johnnie Walker Black was $6. US Dollars are accepted everywhere we went. We saw many of the same animals plus hippos. The camps in the Serengeti are relocated every six weeks to limit the impact on the environment. We stayed two nights in the Serengeti then moved to Ngorongoro Crater. This was a very nice hotel with all the amenities. It seemed almost decadent compared to the previous locations. The view from the hotel at 7,000 feet above sea level to the crater at 4,000 feet is incredible. In the morning we traveled into the crater for more animal viewing. Here is where we saw the last of the big five, a rhinoceros! Throughout the trip we were able to view an abundance of everything but saw only one rhino.
What to know before you go:
You will need up to date shots Go to either the CDC or WHO website or consult a travel health clinic preferably at least two of the three. Typhoid, tetanus, polio booster, hepatitis A & B should be current. Malaria medication is a must although we did not see many mosquitoes, bugs or flies during this dry season. We did not get yellow fever shots and they were not required for Tanzania including Zanzibar. Some web sites state that it is required for both areas. We sprayed our outer clothes with permethrin and carried spray with 30% deet for our uncovered areas.
Pack light. We had everything we needed in a medium backpack plus a smaller one for a large camera along with charger and big lens all for an 18 day trip. We took three sets of lightweight, quick dry clothes for 5 days of safari, 5 days of diving-plus travel. We had zip-off pant legs so they doubled as shorts for the diving portion. If you take hard sided luggage it usually goes on top of the vehicle on an open rack and is thus more susceptible to the dust. And there is a lot of dust. Locals call it natural African powder. You can wash clothes and they dry overnight; at the Serengeti Safari Lodge, they will wash your clothes. Three shirt and pant sets cost $6.25.
Electricity Need both UK/Africa three prong and Asia/Middle East two prong round outlet adapters; 110 and 220 volts. Serengeti is all solar powered; Tarangire and Ngorongoro were limited hours, generator only. Take a flashlight.
Money The US Dollar is accepted everywhere we went and larger places take credit cards. The Tanzania Schilling is the currency and is available in ATMs but is not necessary. When we were there, one USD = 1,500 TZS. Coming into the country you need $100 for the visa unless you obtain it ahead of the trip through the Tanzania Consulate stateside. The lines are long so if you have it upon arrival you will save about an hour. Make sure your cash is new. I had a $100 bill dated 1998 and they would not accept it at immigration. I did finally get a currency exchange to take it although there was some loss due to fees. I did not see an ATM at Dar es Salaam airport. Also - random fees from $5US-$30US at various airports.
Diving:
We flew from Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar and the hotel picked us up for an hour ride over paved roads. The hotel we stayed at was Ocean Paradise and it was a very large resort with three restaurants, three bars, swimming pool, sand volleyball court, kayaks, sailboats, spa, gym, pool table (6 X 12), and gift shop. They can arrange any type of tour you want to take and there is an Ocean One dive shop onsite. Daily resort activities and nightly entertainment.
The diving is done from Blue Bay Resort where Ocean Ones main shop is located. A van picks you up at 7:40 AM (resort breakfast starts at 7 AM) and takes you to Blue Bay stopping to pick up other divers along the way. The shop at Blue Bay has all the rental gear although we were issued wet suits (7 mil shorties) mask and fins (full foot type) at their Ocean Paradise shop. We chose not to use their wet suits and used our skins. The water was 77F (25 C) so we were not cold. There are restrooms and showers at Blue Bay. A large treated rinse tank is provided and staff rinses all rental equipment. You are responsible for your own gear. There is also a faucet for rinsing feet that could be used for personal equipment if you dont care for rinse tanks. Hangers and rack are provided for overnight storage so you can leave everything at Blue Bay. We normally take our own equipment but decided to rent this time. Big mistake, we will never rent again anywhere. All equipment is Scuba Pro. We did have some issues with the equipment. Both of our inflator hoses leaked. Mine leaked so bad the DM was ready to call the dive; luckily I got it to slow down significantly. My wifes mask also leaked so bad she had to hold it against her face during the first dive. Fortunately she is comfortable underwater and kept calm - they do carry spare equipment on the boat. The full foot fins rubbed our feet raw requiring bandages to continue. My suggestion would be to take your own gear even if you are doing a safari first. Hotels will hold your gear while on safari if you are returning to the same hotel.
Due to the tide, the first day of diving we took a van about a mile down the road to Obama Beach and boarded the boat. The other days we took a small boat out to the larger boat. The boat is about 35-feet and quite wide but not quite wide enough to don fins without turning them sideways. The boat has room for 20 passengers but we only had 16 most days with about half divers and half snorkelers. Staff sets up all gear on boat. A recompression center is located just northeast of Ocean Paradise Resort. All of the safety gear was on the boat such as Dan O2 set, gps, first aid kit, life jackets, radio and cell phones. There is a camera bucket although it is small and was not pointed out even though it was quite obvious that several divers had photo equipment. One litre of water and various fruits, rolls and hard candy were served during the surface interval. Large dry bags were provided for anything people wanted to stay dry and it was carried by staff to the boat. A lock box was available at the shop for valuables. There were two 250 hp outboard motors powering the boat and it was good to have two because one failed to start when trying to move to our second dive site one day. We made a second dive in the same area as our first dive and limped into shore to be transported back to Blue Bay via vans. Entry is by giant stride and a ladder on each side of the aft of the boat was provided for re-boarding, however the rungs were round so it was a pain climbing back onto the boat with full gear minus fins. Dive masters gave good instruction of the boat and safety gear as well as dive briefings. We dived with Silvia, Cha Cha and Abdul and all were great. Diving is done at Mnemba atoll and takes about 40 minutes to reach from Blue Bay. We dived ten dives and saw many fish, turtles, octopus, frogfish, eel, large puffers, cuttlefish, and one shark. We had never seen a Juvenile Rock Mover Wrasse or a purple Leafish very nice. The coral was healthy and recovering from an el Niño and we were actually surprised at the amount of large and small fish especially after reading the few reports available in the Chap Book for this area.
This is a huge trip from the states and we recommend combining it with a safari. We feel we saw everything there was to see in the 10 dives we experienced. I also thought 5 days of safari is enough to see the big five and everything else
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Subscriber's Comments

By Lee Little Haponski in TX, US at Nov 06, 2013 15:14 EST  
Excellent report - still don't think I'll haul my gear when I go though (what about socks?) - maybe just my mask with corrective lenses (might be good for dusty safari too)! Thanks, Lee
By Henry O Ziller in CO, US at Nov 08, 2013 12:39 EST  
We wore sock also soaked in permethrin, but again we did not see many mosquitoes. We were more concerned with teetse flys, but never saw any of those. We were there in the dry season. Wet season is probably different. I did take my mask with prescription lens, and our wrist dive computer/watch. If I was renting again, I would take light booties to save my feet. Have a great trip! It will be fantastic!
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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