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Guide to Pemba Island

Tanzania’s sequestered slice of exotic island bliss

Big on natural beauty but small on tourism, Pemba Island is one of Zanzibar’s best kept secrets. Untouched and undeveloped, this is the place to come to completely get away from it all. Exchange the stresses of modern life for hidden beaches, turquoise lagoons and a mesmerising underwater world. The few who do venture here are seldom disappointed.

With swathes of emerald green vegetation blanketing the hilly interior and a bounty of mangrove swamps bordering the coastline, it’s clear to see how Pemba – literally translated as ‘the green’ – earned its name from early Omani sailors. Only 50 miles from Zanzibar Island, this luscious escape will captivate superyacht goers with the same natural charms used to entice explorers centuries ago.

Lying so close to its big sister, Pemba often gets forgotten about but this just heightens its allure among those looking for complete seclusion and authentic island life. Blocked from the mainland by tangles of thick mangroves, deserted stretches of pink and white sand can only be reached by boat. But tourists are rarely found here anyway, with just a handful of lodges and a few historic fishing villages dotted alongside banana, coconut and clove plantations.  

On land, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting. Ngezi Forest Reserve, a huge indigenous forest, is home to the Pemba flying fox, but where Pemba Island really excels is under its brilliantly blue waters. The best dive sites are mostly in the Pemba Channel, the body of water that separates the island from mainland Tanzania, where dizzying drop offs provide the ideal habitat for an abundance of sea creatures, including turtles, reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse and big game fish.

If you’re at home with the peace and serenity of Pemba, it’s also worth visiting nearby Misali Island, an uninhabited haven off the west coast with beautiful beaches and shallow reefs perfect for snorkelling. Shamiani Island is also easy to visit by luxury yacht from here. Forming part of a marine conservation area, this destination is home to a nesting colony of sea turtles and an array of birds.  

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Reasons to Visit

World-class dive sites
Untouched and undeveloped
National parks and conservation areas
White and pink sand beaches
Wildlife spotting

Good For

  • Snorkeling
  • Marine Life
  • Nature
  • Diving
  • Anchorage

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