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Pemba Or Zanzibar: Which Island Should You Choose?


Pemba Island and Zanzibar are two of the top travel locations in East Africa. Both islands are home to stunning biodiversity and unique flora and fauna, and provide the gorgeous view of pristine, sandy beaches. Here is why one should visit either during a vacation!


Pemba Island

  • Pemba Island is known as the Green Island, because it is home to breathtakingly beautiful plant life. The isle has more lush vegetation than most of East Africa.
  • Compared to Zanzibar, Pemba Island has more vivid green hillsides, while Zanzibar is more flat and sandy. Pemba is home to stunning flora and fauna, including rare and unique species such as the Pemba Palm and the Pemba Aloe.
  • Pemba Island offers tranquility and serenity, as most beaches are untouched and private. Vumawimbi Beach is peaceful and remote, so it does not have crowds, and visitors are not likely to be bothered or inconvenienced by the presence of others.


  • The island is one of the best diving sites in the world, as it has a breathtaking underwater landscape. Tourists can dive or snorkel among the beautiful coral reefs!!
  • Pemba is much quieter than bustling, sometimes crowded with visitors, Zanzibar.
  • Due to its isolation from the rest of Africa for several million years, Pemba is home to a number of species which are not found anywhere else in the world. The large Pemba Flying Fox, the Pemba Marsh Snake, Pemba Day Gecko, the Pemba wolf snake, and the Pemba Speckle-lipped Skink are endemic to the island.
  • Pemba Island has a rich history and heritage which tourists can learn about. They can visit the Ras Mkumbuu ruins which date back to the 13th and 14th century, and include the old chief’s house, several elaborate graves, and an ancient 11th century mosque. At Chake Chake Bay, they can find a market from 1904, and an Old Fort.
  • Tourists can also visit stunning beaches such as the untouched Vumawimbi Beach, or the pristine Baobab beach, which is home to beautiful marine life and coral reefs.


Zanzibar Island

  • The heavenly Zanzibar archipelago is one of the most beautiful travel locations in the world. The island is home to a number of landscapes, with shrublands, sandy beaches, and small patches of indigenous forests.
  • As compared to Pemba, Zanzibar tends to have slightly more crowds. Most tourist spots, such as Forodhani Night Food Market in Stone Town, and Kendwa beach tend to be busier. Tourists who want to visit a more lively location can explore Stone Town, visit a bustling marketplace, or join a full moon party at Kendwa beach, where they can interact with friendly locals and people from all over the world.
  • Zanzibar is home to scenic beaches such as Kizimkazi where tourists can swim with bottle-nosed and humpback dolphins, Nungwi beach where visitors can stay in top class boutique hotels, and Mnemba Atoll, where one can snorkel among the corals reef, and marine life such as moray eels,, sea stars, octopuses, rays, and pufferfish!


  • While Pemba is known as the Green Island, Zanzibar is called the Spice Island, One can visit Jambo Spice Farm, and taste spices such as cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, cumin, peppers, coriander, and lemongrass.
  • Stone Town offers a great insight into the history and heritage of the region, as one can learn about slave trade, and visit the Old Fort, and the Museum. Tourists can also go to Prison Island, where they can explore the ancient ruins.


Where to Go?

  • Both Zanzibar and Pemba Island are stunning locations with a rich history and culture, scenic beaches and landscapes, and spectacular flora and fauna. While Pemba is more serene and isolated, Zanzibar is more lively and bustling.
  • Both islands offer tourists the chance to relax and immerse themselves in nature.
  • Tourists can enjoy learning about history and interacting with locals, who are helpful, friendly, and down to earth, They can also try the local food, which is made with delicious spices, and includes dishes such as fresh seafood, biryani, grilled meat, curry,, and meat skewers, and drinks such as ginger tea and sugarcane juice.
  • The best thing to do is to visit both the islands, as they are only about 124km apart, and tourists can reach one island from the other in approximately four hours via ferry, and less than half an hour if they are traveling on an airplane.