YOU GET LAZY AT FUNDU. The boat crews set up your cylinder and attach the regulator, and they insist on carrying your equipment back to the dive centre, on washing your wetsuit and hanging it up to dry.
Everything is ready on the boat next morning, and there are wicker hampers with picnic lunch and bottles of cold water ready for your surface interval.
The surface interval, by the way, takes place on a desert island, at a shady table and with cutlery and starched napkins.
And as my dive leader Filbert Ngelenge points out: Theres time for a siesta on one of the sun-loungers before the afternoon dive.
Getting to Fundu requires a little more effort. Fundu Lagoon lies on the western coastline of Pemba, about 40 miles off the Tanzanian coast.
From London you fly to Dar es Salaam, and then catch a plane to Zanzibar that hops on to Chake Chake, the main town on Pemba.
Then its a 40-minute drive to the port of Mkoani, and finally a half-hour speedboat ride to Fundu. Tucked into the tree-line and virtually invisible from the sea, the resort has 18 chalets, which are of the canvas-tent-transformed-into-luxury-hotel-room variety, with electric light, proper showers and sun-beds on a private wooden deck overlooking the sea.
Fundu isnt for budget divers, but once here the resort is all-inclusive, not just for food, but for drinks as well.
I am increasingly finding that if you want dive sites that arent crowded, coral that is healthy and dive crews that enjoy their jobs, you have to travel a bit further, and pay a bit more.
At Fundu, the dive centre has full sets of equipment (at no extra charge), and a leisurely start at 9.30 is the norm.
Most of the dive sites are a 20-minute boat-ride away on the western edge of a tiny coral island called Misali. The deep reefs here are a protected area, and wardens are based on the island to stop local fishermen straying into the no-take zone.
Misalis dive-sites are mostly on the seaward side of the fringing reef that drops off into the blue. In some places, the dominant growth below about
15m is cabbage corals, a vast maze of interlocking leaves where cardinalfish, soldierfish and hogfish seek shelter behind their own little palisades.

FILBERT URGED ME TO KEEP an eye on the blue, and I was rewarded on my first dive at Misali by the sight of two spotted eagle rays gliding past like spaceships in the gloom. Later, there were blue-fin trevally and a female hawksbill turtle cruising the shelf.
My visit to Fundu coincided with full moon, and visibility at the famous gaps of Fundu and Njao was poor.
Here, where the tides pass through narrow channels into the western lagoon shallows, there are supposed to be manta rays and big grouper waiting for the chance to hunt in the currents.
My dives there were interesting but inconclusive, as the water was too turbid to tell if there were indeed any large pelagics close by. But the currents at the southern end of Pemba brought clear water, and the promise of a wreck dive.
In the bright morning light, we head towards the south-western tip of the island, past an abandoned lighthouse and intimidating barriers of craggy ironshore. The sea is mirror-flat. Stretching to the west, I know it reaches to the mainland of Africa, but there is nothing to break the pure blue except for a few triangular sails on the horizon.
These are the mashuas, the small dhows used by the fishermen of Pemba. They, like us, are taking advantage of calm conditions to circumnavigate the southern tip of the island.
Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago, lies 40 miles further south, and some fishermen brave the journey between the two big islands.
Divers visit this site infrequently, as the exposed reefs are almost always ripped by strong currents, and when the monsoon winds blow the site is completely inaccessible.
Today, our group aims to dive the wreck of the merchant ship ss Paraportiani, which foundered on the reef in 1967. Denied safe passage through the Suez Canal by the Arab-Israeli War, the 90m-long vessel liesin less than 18m of water, its stern still largely intact and its broken superstructure embedded in the sand.

ROLLING BACKWARDS into the water, I discover that the calm seas above have disguised a strong northwards current, and I bury my knuckles in the seabed, pulling myself across the sand into the lee of the ships hull.
The current sweeps the water clean, and I can see the entire length of the wreck as if the whole scene is above water, not below.
Hard corals have cloaked the metal, and nestling inside the stumpy fingers of Pocillopura I spy a tiny yellow-spotted scorpionfish. This cryptic species somehow bends its frame around the coral and hides deep in its crevices, barely moving in daylight but ready to pounce on small fish that swim too near.
On the wheelhouse deck there is a tiger cowrie, its shiny shell as bright as a polished marble floor.
In the dark space below deck, a wall of copper-coloured sweeperfish share the space with an elegant lionfish, all bristling venomous spines and feathery fins, the reef equivalent of an attack helicopter, highly manoeuvrable and, if youre bite-sized, equally deadly.
Despite the current, we manage an hours dive on the shallow wreck, gradually working our way along its twisted flanks, peering beneath the mast and spying the countless tiny creatures that have made this hulk their home.
Red, green, yellow and pink hard corals, a purple magnificent anemone and an orange starfish with raised scarlet knobbles stand out in the sunlit shallows, as if they have all been picked out with enamel paints.

MOST VISITORS TO FUNDU will do their diving mainly at Misali, which is home to sunbirds and flying foxes. Caves in the interior are reputedly used for voodoo. Seven or eight individual dive sites are located here, mostly drift dives along rich coral walls filled with a variety of western Indian Ocean species.
Filbert Ngelenge was one of the first Tanzanians to become a diving instructor, and knows the reefs around Fundu inside out. Filbert is fond of nudibranchs, the colourful sea slugs that divers love to see, but can find difficult to spot. On one dive he is fixated by the sight of a Spanish dancer as it lays a coil of bright pink eggs.
Filbert also knows where to find leaf scorpionfish - virtually motionless predators that sit on coral heads and have flattened bodies that look exactly like a leaf swaying in the current.
On each dive we vie with one another to spot something small and secretive, camouflaged among the folds of a cabbage coral or tucked inside a sponge.
He spies a tiny transparent shrimp decorated with white dots and, with the help of a cheap magnifying glass that I carry in my pocket, I find a white nudibranch decorated with black spots, both creatures smaller than my little fingernail.
I do see large fish too - great silver kingfish, some barracuda, giant trevally and an enormous Napoleon wrasse. The wrasse, with its characteristic humped forehead, is more than 4ft long. A green giant with preposterous lips, it glides into the gloom.
Sharks, Filbert tells me truthfully, are a rarity here, though they may be more common on the eastern side of Pemba, close to the lagoon shallows.
But the reef is filled with life, and there are corals hard and soft, barrel sponges and anemones where clownfish guard their eggs, protected within a forest of stinging tentacles.

THE CHARM OF THE DIVING AT FUNDU is, in part, that this is not an area likely to be visited by large numbers of divers. Fundu Lagoon has only 18 rooms, a small spa, a pool and a stretch of fantasy white sand that makes it feel like its own island within Pemba.
Apart from diving, there are kayaks available for exploring the mangroves, and hotel staff will take you to visit the local villages on foot if you wish.
The diving here reminded me very much of the Seychelles before the corals there were so badly damaged by the 1998 El Nino and subsequent bleaching.
At Fundu I saw no signs of coral disease, though some reefs have suffered damage from fishing nets, especially outside the protected area of Misali. The classic Indian Ocean reef inhabitants are all here, and the professionalism of the dive centre makes diving a pure pleasure.
Oh, and did I mention the dolphins There is a resident group of around 200 living near Misali. One flat, clear morning, they followed the dive-boat, spinning and leaping into the air like excited children on a school outing.
It is one of a dozen happy memories from this quiet corner of Africa.

GETTING THERE: Fly to Dar es Salaam, from where several small airlines serve Pemba and other outlying islands. Buying a visa in the UK (£35) could save lengthy queuing at the airport on entry.
DIVING & ACCOMMODATION: Fundu Lagoon is a PADI 5* Gold Palm resort with its own dive centre, Dive 710,
MONEY: Tanzanian shilling
HEALTH: Typhoid, hepatitis A , diptheria and yellow fever inoculations recommended.
WHEN TO GO: Conditions are driest and calmest from July to March - the rest of the year usually sees the long rains.
FOR NON-DIVERS: Sailing, sightseeing, snorkelling, sunbathing.
PRICES: Tim Ecott travelled with Rainbow Tours (, which can arrange a seven-night trip to Fundu Lagoon with one night on Zanzibar from £970 per person (twin share). International flights with BA cost around £600. A six-dive package costs US $395.