Pemba Island is renowned for its fabulous unspoiled beaches, perfect snorkelling and diving conditions, the pristine Ngezi Forest and numerous Swahili ruins dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries.
Once known as Al Khudra (or the Green Island) for its forests of king palms, mangos and banana trees, the island is a favourite of divers for its lush coral gardens teeming with colourful reef fish, sponges and huge fans.
For good snorkelling, check out the Pemba Dive Reef just 100m off Wimbe Beach.
On land, catch a bullfight – Portuguese-style – where, unlike the Spanish version, the bull is not killed. Instead, after enduring the ritual teasing by the matador's scarlet cape, fans honour the bull’s bravery by draping the animal with flowers and parading him around the village.
Then explore the oldest and best preserved ruins on the island at Ndagoni. Dating from the 14th century the ruins are locatred at Ras Mkumbuu, just west of Chake-Chake.
To the east of Chake-Chake at Pujini village lie the 15th century Mkama Ndume ruins, considered one of the earliest fortifications on the coast of East Africa.
Visit for a day or stay longer at one of the island’s rustic guesthouses at Mkoani, Chake Chake and Wete or splurge at the luxury Fundu Lagoon resort or at The Manta Resort.
Pemba Island is located around 50km to the north of Zanzibar.
Catch one of the ferries from Zanzibar that ply to and from Pemba throughout the week or better still, take one of the daily direct flights (around US$70 with Coastal Aviation) from Stone Town or Dar es Salaam to Karume Airport, located 7km from Chake Chake, the island's largest town. From here, rental cars and motorbikes are available to get around the island.
Zanzibar is just a 20 minute flight from Dar Es Salaam International Airport. By ferry, Zanzibar is 2-hour trip from the mainland, depending on sea conditions.
Find out how to get to Zanzibar…
Latest update: Pemba Island, Zanzibar : 27 April, 2022