A trip to Tanzania is incomplete without a visit to its mesmerizing islands. Home to the most beautiful and diverse flora and fauna, these islands offer an amazing experience with stunning views of crystal clear water, white sand, and swaying palm trees, excellent accommodation with world class facilities, an insight into the unique culture and heritage, and mouthwatering local dishes.
Pemba is the second biggest island of the Zanzibar archipelago, and is greener and more peaceful than other islands. For tourists who wish to relax and escape the crowds, this destination is ideal! The island is home to many different birds such as the Pemba white-eye, green pigeon, malachite kingfisher, African goshawk, palm nut vulture, crowned hornbill, Pemba flying fox (a unique fruit bat), violet breasted sunbirds, and owls, and animals such as miniature antelopes, Pemba Vervet Monkeys, and Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys. While enjoying spectacular snorkelling or scuba diving experience, travellers can spot colorful corals, tropical fish, deep sea turtles, and manta rays.
The tranquil Ngezi Forest Reserve is one of the best spots in Pemba, as it has several biomes, including tropical forest, riverine forest, and maquis shrubland. Tourists can also visit the Ras Mkumbuu ruins which date from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and include an 11th century mosque, several elaborate graves, and the old chief’s house. As the site is rarely visited, visitors can explore the area in peace and tranquility, and enjoy the time away from the crowds. The region offers some of the best diving in East Africa, and snorkelling is spectacular. Visitors can spot nesting turtles, or see the caves which are believed to be inhabited by the spirits of ancestors. Away from the beach are several traditional villages, known as Makangale, where tourists can go for cultural visits, and explore the area to experience, and learn about local life. Pemba island offers a perfect vacation with fun, serenity, beauty, and relaxation!
Another mesmerising island is Mafia Island, also known as Chole Shamba, which can easily be reached by a short direct flight from Dar es Salaam.. 160km south of Zanzibar, it is more peaceful and less crowded. Home to over 460 species of fish, and 5 species of turtles, this is a great destination for those seeking adventure and relaxation. It is home to the Mafia Island Marine Park, a protected nature reserve, where guests can enjoy water related activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming, and experiences such as cultural tours, whale watching, boat tours, or witnessing the incredible birth of turtles. Those who wish to relax can sunbathe on the sandy beaches.
Mafia island is one of the few destinations in the world where you can swim with whale sharks during the Nov – Feb season.
Visitors can explore the untouched coral reefs and sandbars. The island offers excellent accommodation, with lodges such as Kinasi which has great food, good service, and beautiful interior decoration, Pole Pole which allows visitors to escape the crowds and live in lovely bungalows, Chole Mjini which is an eco lodge, Mafia Island Lodge, and the great Ras Mbisi.
Located 6 km west of Zanzibar, and 30 km from the Tanzanian coast, this tropical island is one of the best in Tanzania and must be on every touristS wish list! Accessible by boat, it offers exclusive eco bungalows, colorful and magical coral reefs, and mouth watering Zanzibari cuisine! Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, such as exploring the beauty of the reserve, snorkelling through the coral reef sanctuary, watching boats and dhows ride by, or visiting the historical monuments which include an Indian style mosque, a lighthouse built in 1904, and a visitorS centre.
Chumbe Island Coral Park is a private nature park 8 miles southwest of Zanzibar. The region is home to 400 species of reef fish, 200 species of coral, and animals such as the coconut crab, humpback whale, and green turtle. Local organizations seek to conserve the biodiversity of the area so tourists must contribute to such causes by practising ecotourism and ensuring that they do not pollute or adversely impact the area.
People travelling to Tanzania should definitely visit these 3 mesmerizing islands, as they offer excellent food, accommodation, views, and experiences, filled with fun, adventure, relaxation, and learning!