Pemba Island

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Pemba Island, is also known as “The Green Island” in Arabic, is an island forming part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, lying within the Swahili Coast in the Indian Ocean.

Pemba Island lies about 80km to the northeast of Zanzibar Island (Unguja), which is about a 30-minute flight away from Stone Town airport. Although broadly comparable in size to Zanzibar, Pemba is much less developed. Pot-holed roads lead through villages where women in bright kangas sit and chat, ox-drawn carts are stacked high with fruit, and the air is filled with the smell of spices.

Pemba Island has been separated from the mainland of Tanzania and Zanzibar for decades, leaving an untouched and pristine island of great beauty and fertility. The mosaic of forests, swamps, mangroves, hidden beaches and lagoons is scattered with the ruins of mosques and tombs mostly reclaimed by the forest – sites that date back to Arab domination when Pemba Island was seized by the Sultan of Muscat (Oman) in the 17th century. He loved the Spice Islands and established his court in Zanzibar and ruled Muscat from there.

Pemba is one of the most densely populated areas of Tanzania, with most of the people living in fairly traditionally-designed square houses, built using mud walls around a wooden frame and with roofs of thatch or corrugated iron. Pemba’s main town, and the island’s administrative capital, is Chake Chake – and that’s where the island’s airport is.

Diving on Pemba

The most popular activity in Pemba is diving – and for good reason! Pemba offers excellent diving opportunities, and the chance to see active, vibrant marine life. Adventurous travelers can visit Pemba Channel to spot hammerhead sharks as they are known to swim in groups in this area (but don’t worry, these sharks never venture to shallow waters near Pemba’s beaches).
Diving experts have acclaimed Pemba as the best diving experience in all of East Africa, with great options for beginners and experienced divers alike.


Those who enjoy snorkelling should consider visiting Misali Island, which is also where sea turtles are known to nest. Snorkelers will also see plenty of brightly-colored fish and beautiful starfish while in the water.

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