To the north of Zanzibar, Pemba is a true island getaway and also one of the best dive locations in the world...
Separated by the Pemba channel from its larger sister, Zanzibar to the south, the small island of Pemba is part of the Zanzibar archipelago of islands that run north from Dar es Salaam. With a fraction of the tourism, much fuller vegetation and some of the best diving in the world, there is good reason that many of the more intrepid try and come here for a few days in the sun!
This small island in the sun has grown in popularity as the fortunes of Zanzibar have grown…the reason being that, on Zanzibar there are around 150 hotels, and on Pemba there are around 3! Getting to the lodges is, in itself a mission, and can involve planes, vehicles and boats….and what you are getting is utter seclusion!
The main town of Chake Chake sits right in the heart of the main island and is the location for the small airport and around 70% of the island’s population. Life has changed very little in this town and on the island, with the main agricultural export being cloves.
To talk of Pemba and not mention the diving would be heinous as it offers some of the best along the entire east African coastline with a range of levels, from beginner to advanced. One of the best sites that we have heard about (but, unfortunately not yet dived) is a pinnacle dive out in the Pemba channel where it is possible to see schooling hammerheads…don’t worry, the never come in around the island!
All in all, Pemba offers a bit of everything and excels at a few things. The diving is world class, the beaches on the mainland are reasonable, but there are superb sand bars and spits within minutes, and the general ambience is one of utter seclusion. We have started to really recommend the place…
At a glance...Pemba Island
- Size 380 square miles
- Location Due North of Zanzibar
- Recommended time 5 to 7 nights
- Time to visit June to Nov & Jan to Mar
- Topography Natural forest and clove plantations, mangrove coast