More about Mnemba Island
Mnemba Island, the remnant of a once larger island, is surrounded by a ring of coral reef. In addition to hundreds of reef fish species, this coral is home to a host of other fascinating creatures, including spectacular anemones, starfish, crabs and molluscs. In the centre of the atoll, encircled by the reef, lies a calm lagoon ideal for snorkelling. The outer edges of the reef are rich with dive sites where a rich variety of seas species can be seen. The number of marine species encountered by divers makes this one of the most rewarding dive destinations off Africa's east coast. For much of the year temperatures are perfect, with calm seas enabling great diving. October is a great month of whale and octopus sightings, while conditions are ideal for swimming with dolphins.
Mnemba's sparkling white beaches are made up of minute coral fragments and provide a home to small creatures. The hyperactive ghost crab darts in and out of the surf in search of tasty morsels during the day, only daring to venture further from its burrow after dark. Birds, including the rare crab plover, forage along the beach. One of the most important visitors is the highly endangered green turtle, which returns to the island’s shores each year to lay its eggs above the high tide mark. Females come ashore to dig their nests after dark, leaving only their deep tracks as evidence of their labour the following morning. The hatchlings can be seen making their way down the beach in September and October.
One of Mnemba’s characteristic sounds is a haunting whistle that mingles with the crashing waves on a windy day. This curious sound is produced by the wind blowing through the foliage of the dense forest of casuarinas trees that grows in the centre of the island. Combined with the cone-shaped seed cases that carpet the forest floor and the rhythmic cooing of the red-eyed doves, large numbers of which breed on the island, this whistling is one of the signature memories that guests take home from the island.