Next up in the Dar es Salaam, Tanzania beach series is Bongoyo Island. It’s 2.5 km from the city and is a very popular and easily accessible day trip for tourists, residents, and Tanzanian locals.
There is only one main beach on the uninhabited island and it is fairly small. Bandas, or small huts, dot the beach with mats to lay on. Other beaches exist, if you are willing to find them among the mostly stony island edges. Several trails snake through the overgrown trees and after a twenty minute hike you will arrive at a deserted beach, tides cooperating. If you venture down the trails, however, don’t bring many valuables because local fisherman may try to pickpocket you.
When you first arrive on the island, a man comes around with a menu to take your order for lunch at the one restaurant available. You must order in advance to give the cooks time to catch the fish and prepare the food, and lunch times are set at 12:30 and 1:00.
Boats leave the Slipway pier, located in Msasani, the peninsula of Dar es Salaam. Departure times are 9:30, 11:30, 1:30 and 3:30. Return times to come back to the mainland are 10:30, 12:30, 2:30 and 5:00. The one way trip takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on how rough the waves are. It costs 36,000 shillings, or $22, to go, which includes a round trip boat ticket and fees for the island.
Private boats are also available for hire. They can take you to the other hidden beaches, and often provide lunch and snorkeling. There a glass bottom boat tours that can be arranged from the stores near the Slipway pier.
In addition to snorkeling, the island is also a popular scuba diving spot due to the water’s clarity and the gorgeous reefs surrounding the island. The most enticing attraction, however, is the sunken ship located on the east side of the island. The shallowest end is 4 meters beneath the surface, making it accessible to free divers as well. Bright colored fish swim in and out of the windows, creating an exciting underwater adventure.
Bongoyo Island is a great place to catch a few rays, go kite boarding, and enjoy fresh grilled seafood. Many people make this a must do while visiting Dar es Salaam; don’t miss your chance to enjoy this clean and intimately small tropical island.
Would you go play in Bongoyo?