Planning a holiday can always get exciting, however most of us give in when the cost seems beyond our budget. Tanzania is a typical tourist destination and planning a day trip can also get expensive. Fortunately, we have a few hidden spots, even in the water, that make it for a perfect holiday; the peace, scenery and of course your budget too!
I visited Mbudya Island, an exotic sandbank islet in the Indian Ocean with a bunch of new friends during a holiday season. Prior to the trip, I was robbed of my wallet and a huge amount of money. Yet, I was determined to make this trip happen and ‘check’ my snorkeling wish on my bucket list. Although I was nearly broke, I made the trip happen in the most lavish ways and under $50. Here I unfold the truth as I narrate my Island Day Trip experience in Tanzania.
Mbudya Island is an isolated marine reserve, now becoming popular among the tourists and residents alike. Most people prefer to visit Mbudya for picnics and day trips as it is 30-40 minutes away from the city of Dar es Salaam. The water surrounding the island is clean and rich with coral and marine life; unexplored, untouched and fascinates the eyes of all snorkelers. We, a bunch of close to ten city girls planned to spend our Easter Sunday on Mbudya Island where we could unwind in absolute serenity, travel on a budget and experience the renowned snorkeling experience on this exotic island.
How to get there
The sand back island is ideally located, close to popular beach resorts and the peninsula region of Dar es Salaam. Most people hire a wooden dhow from resorts for less than $10 per person including a return trip. We hired a glass bottom boat from the peninsular for a returned trip just $15 per person. The boat was safe, comfortable and can accommodate 20 people. Hiring a glass bottom vessel also enabled us to enjoy fantastic marine views underwater on our way to Mbudya Island. The waters are not rough and boat trips last up to 30-40 minutes.
What to do there
Once you reach there, all visitors pay a marine park fees, approximately a dollar for citizens and $8 for foreigners. The island is spacious, clean and scenic. Start your day early around 8:00 am so you can make most of your day trip. It is ideal to first rent a shack for approximately $10, including two sunbeds and tables.
Play: This what we started our day with. All girls wanted to have some fun and we looked for the right spot near our shack to loosen up ourselves with some games. We carried a ball and within few minutes found ourselves running on the sand, feeling energetic laughing and getting ready for our next adventure.
Snorkel: Our boatman asked us to wait for the perfect medium tide to set in. After a few bites of crisps, sandwiches and juices, we changed into our swimsuits put on our life jackets, snorkeling gear and got ready to snorkel. As this was a first experience for most of us, we enjoyed helping each other adjusting our goggles, snorkels and wobbling with long fins. We rented the equipment for $20. After searching for the right spot, our boatman escorted us to splash in the water. It was not quite fun as it seemed with life jackets, salty water and the tide that kept us shifting. It took nearly 30 minutes to make ourselves comfortable in the water. Mbudya island is truly an oceanic paradise and has rich corals and aquatic life to explore. From vibrant star fishes to a variety of sea creatures each of us had a spellbinding experience as we spent our solo time underwater, spotting fishes and mesmerized by the silence and magic.
Eat: Snorkeling activity can last for two to three hours. Once we swam enough, we headed back to the island to eat and relax. Food availability is rare on Mbudya but many people enjoy feasting on local fish-changu and chips. Each one of us carried a food pack from home and we feasted on delicious varieties; pizzas, nachos, dry snacks, fruits, sandwiches and fizzy drinks. We also ordered some french fries for less than $5.
Explore: After a hearty feast, we stepped out of our shacks for a stroll. We were amazed to learn as we walked that the island was quite big and a number of visitors who came over for a day trip. We spent time under the mangroves, documenting our special moments and simply relaxing under the sun. Some guides also offer natural walks on the island to explore coconut crabs, snakes and simply visit other parts of this tiny island.
Unwind: Even if you are not a swimmer or an adventure lover, Mbudya Island still makes for a promising day trip. Take your family and kids to one of the cleanest beach destinations in Tanzania. Cleanest because it is legally prohibited to litter the beach. You can relax on the shack while enjoying a fresh can of beer and talk your loved ones while enjoying the views of ocean and the surroundings.
While returning back towards dusk, we enjoyed the bumpy boat ride and discussed what a great decision it was to visit the island; giving us a true sense of freedom, happiness and exploring a less known miniature paradise. I was satisfied, investing my $50 on a holiday much awaited for!