This page here should have been about the city of Tadjoura, but it turned out not meant to be. Since Tadjoura was the former capital of Djibouti with some interesting history, it was high on my travel list. I had tried to take a ferry to Tadjoura, but when that didn’t work I ended up changing plans and coming to the Moucha Islands instead. The islands are just off the coast of Africa and a short boat ride away. This turned out to be a good alternative to Tadjoura. There are lots of ferries so it’s very easy to visit the Moucha Islands. My spontaneous decision proves the point. Just hours after I failed to make it to Tadjoura I found myself on the shores of Moucha Islands in one of these small passenger boats. The photo below shows some of the rocky coast that was one of my first impressions of the island.
The Moucha islands are a famous place to visit in Djibouti. Rather than covered in sandy beaches and tropical forests, these bone dry islands are made up of sand and fossilized coral and are home to cacti and small shrubs. You can tell that the islands themselves aren’t particularly attractive. As a matter of fact you should bring some good shoes if you’re planning a visit. The razor sharp coral can be quite painful to walk on barefoot!
In this photo above, you’d have to carefully tip toe into the water to avoid the sharp coral. If you have any kind of water shoes then you can run around the island without any issues. There are a few exceptions where there is actual sand going up to the water and you can enjoy a normal beach, but these are definitely few and far between.
The island didn’t seem to be teeming with any wildlife. Of course along the coast there are a plenty of seabirds and ocean based life. Inland though, all I really saw were hundreds of tiny lizards. There are more than you can count here. I came across them everywhere you can imagine, from short hikes to in my room at night.
Since islands are too small to support any large wildlife, I imagine this large bone belonged to a camel or mule that was brought here. Death and dryness bring up the obvious question on why these islands are so great! The answer is found in the surrounding waters where the snorkeling and diving are some of the best in the continent.
Unfortunately at this time of my travels I was too cheap to bring my own diving camera with me, and the dive master nearly had a nervous break down when I asked if I could borrow his or rent one. I only post my own photos on my website unless I’m in the photo itself, so for my dive here this was the best I could do! I actually did a dive in neighboring Berbera, Somalia where I was able to use a diving camera and the experience was a bit similar. Somalia was a walk in dive while in Djibouti we took some boats out and I got up to 60 feet (20 meters) deep at times. There had been a steep drop off at our dive spot that offered more of a range of wildlife than the nearby dive in Somalia. I really wish I had more to share photography wise! I came across a few emperor angels, some amazing giant eels and a few other species I hadn’t seen before.
I spent the night here on one of the islands where I found the rooms to be much nicer than the baby cockroach inn I had stayed at on the mainland. That could have been avoided had I been willing to spend more money in Djibouti City of course. If you want to be cheap on the Moucha islands you don’t have many options. There are a few bungalows spread out the islands, but they all seemed to be similar in price. The biggest difference was picking ones with or without air conditioning units. The location I stayed at had a tiny restaurant that was decent and even had beer on tap!
Second to the scuba diving the most impressive experience to visiting these islands were the sunsets against the ocean and some of the mountains in the distance. On a crystal clear day supposedly you can look across the Arab sea and see parts of Yemen. I wasn’t able to do that myself, but the views of mainland Africa where good enough for me!
Even better than the sunsets are the clear skies and stars at night. Since you’re far from any light pollution the amount of stars you can see here is probably about as good as it gets. If you know your constellations you can clearly see Orion in the photo above and the big dipper below.