Holidays to Pemba Island, Zanzibar

Whilst many visitors prefer to take in the sights and sounds of Zanzibar Island, the largest destination in the Tanzanian archipelago, the more discerning prefer Pemba Island. 

The local terrain is hilly but green, a delight for hikers who can also marvel at the mangroves and lagoons that pepper the coastline. The far northeastern region is covered by Ngezi Forest Reserve, one of the last places visitors can see the rainforest-like vegetation that once covered the area.

Its canopy is home to loud and proud vervet monkeys, while various bird species, red colobus monkeys and flying foxes can be spotted while walking one of the well-maintained trails. Night tours are also available, during which adorable bushbabies and the local scops owl are common sights. Flying foxes can also be seen at the Kidike Sanctuary near Kangagani village, where these indigenous bats hang out in a patch of trees. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot them take to the air in their unique fashion while watching from a nearby viewing platform.

History buffs can get a glimpse of the past during a trip to Mkame Ndume, the ruined pre-16th century palace of Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman who once ruled the island with an iron fist, or Ras Mkumbuu, the site of an ancient settlement dating back to the 8th century that includes a mosque, tombs and houses. Both are close to the town of Chake Chake.

Take a trip to Misali Island, part of the Pemba Channel Conservation Area, whose coastal waters offer some of East Africa’s best diving spots. This remote place has no human inhabitants, allowing the local wildlife to flourish. Snorkelling here is also rewarding for the less experienced, while brave landlubbers can explore the local caves or search for the nesting turtles who make their home here.

After being immersed in activities it’s probably time to relax, and there’s nowhere better to do so than at Vumawimbi Beach. This idyllic, sheltered stretch of sand is on the opposite side of Pemba to the hotels, so is rarely visited by tourists. But those who venture here are rewarded with unparalleled peace and quiet.

Highlights

  • Experience the lush delights of Ngezi Forest Reserve

  • Get away from it all on Vumawimbi Beach

  • Explore the palacial ruins of Mkame Ndume

  • Meet the residents of Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary

  • Go diving off the coast of Misali Island

Jen
Travel Designer & Safari Expert
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I was born and raised in Africa, and I have spent 25 years living, working and travelling across various African countries including South Africa and Tanzania. I learned how to track wild animals, went on to become a nature guide and later a safari lodge manager, and I can also speak Swahili and Afrikaans.

Map of Pemba Island