Zanzibar to Pemba – Flight or Ferry?
Whether you plan to travel from Zanzibar to Pemba for business, leisure or family visit, the island is accessible throughout the year as it remains one of the most beloved gems for visitors from all corners of the world.
Before embarking on your trip, it’s always a good idea to compare both air travel and ferry to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your trip.
If you choose to fly, it takes less than half an hour to land in “Green Island” as its popularly known, as this is the largest clove growing region of the archipelago. The land is more fertile and hillier than Zanzibar and its only 124 km from Zanzibar.
Regular flights to the island are offered by a few carriers including the island specialists, As Salaam Air.
The main airport in Pemba is called Pemba-Karume Airport and is located 6 km from ChakeChake town.
One-way airline ticket costs from $70 – $113 USD and even lower in the off season. In season there are multiple departures daily from Zanzibar.
Perhaps the biggest draw-back of flying is the limited baggage allowance common to all airlines in Tanzania, due to the smaller aircraft used.
Taking a ferry
If you prefer to travel to Pemba by ferry, it takes up to four hours from Zanzibar. The main port in Pemba is called Mkoani and is located at the southern tip of the island. All ferries from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar dock at Mkoani and the most popular boat to sail in is the Seal Link chain operated by Azam Marine. While at Pemba you can book a ticket at Azam booking office at Mkoani as well as several other booking offices straddled in the town at Chake Chake or Wete.
You can also travel by the government-owned Mapinduzi ferry which is operated twice a week, but the service can get irritating due to slow speeds and unreliability.
The ferry leaves Zanzibar to Pemba on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while departures from Pemba to Zanzibar is on Thursdays and Sundays.
Both vessels leave the respective ports at 7 am and take about 5 hours either way. The cost per seat is $65 one way.
There are several other unchartered ferry services on the same route that ply once a week, but these are also not reliable.
Authorities in Tanzania have embarked on an aggressive modernization effort to replace some of its old ships, in line with development and new technologies in water travel.
Some of the newer vessels, called catamarans have started plying the Pemba routes and are becoming increasingly popular. They are built on the specifications of the Azam company to provide speed and comfort for travellers, as well as international tourists and people in the business.
Their fleet has up to date navigation and communication instrumentation as well as stringent safety equipment on board. The crews are experienced and well trained.
There are no reasonable limitations on luggage on the ferrys.
So, whether you travel to Pemba by air or ferry the choice is mostly determined by your capacity regarding affordability, convenience in departures, speed, comfort, and safety. If you’re looking for speed and comfort then flying remains the best option.
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