“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” — Marcel Proust
Remote, lush and said to be prettier than the neighbouring star, Zanzibar (commonly known as Unguja), Pemba Island lies off the coast of Tanzania and 50km (± 31 miles) North of Zanzibar. Forming part of the Zanzibar Archipelago (which links a chain of the island from Dar es Salaam towards Mombasa), Pemba Island is the second-largest island of the atoll.
The land of cloves and mangoes sets a different tone for your island holiday, providing an exclusive destination for ‘sea-loving’ travellers. Pembury has put together a preview of the island life of Pemba.
Did you know?
Unguja is the largest island within the Zanzibar archipelago. Unguja is the less commonly known name of the famous Spice Mecca, Zanzibar.
Overview of Pemba Island:
Lushly vegetated hills, glimmering lagoons and intertwined; mangroves; the island is known to many as the Green Island. Coincidently, Pemba means Green in Arabic, the island’s cultural bellwether since the 17th century. Claimed by the Portuguese before the 17th century, Pemba – and its sister islands – were invaded by Omani Arabs. The Sultan of Muscat and Oman moved his capital from Muscat to Stone Town on neighbouring Zanzibar Island in the early 19th century. In 1890, the archipelago became a British protectorate, but Pemba and its sister islands remained under the governance of the Omani Sultan.
Today, the island is littered with ancient ruins along the coastline – bearing witness to the historic and culturally rich era of this fertile island. Pemba has not lost its Arabic culture during the centuries and life on the island is similar to that of Zanzibar.
As you stroll through the Capital City of Chake Chake, ancient buildings, cobbled roads and aromatic cloves offer a timeless life for locals and travellers.
Getting to and around Pemba Island:
Due to the remote location and lifestyle of the island, getting to Pemba can seem complicated. The team at Pembury Tours will easily make these arrangements for you. Our team would book a private charter flight with one of our trusted suppliers. Daily scheduled flights from Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar make this an accessible destination during your journey to Africa.
Once you have landed in Pemba (do not expect a Heathrow Airport on arrival); your dedicated Tour Consultant will arrange all transfers to and from the hotels/airports. During your stay, the friendly staff at the concierge will arrange transfers between attractions or if you’re feeling adventurous, hop on a bicycle and explore the ideal by pedal!
Best time to Travel to Pemba Island:
We suspect the saying, “location is key”, is derived from Pemba. Positioned perfectly along the equator, temperatures are relatively consistent year-round – with the average temperature at 27˚C/80˚F. Most days are sun-soaked between June and October but during November and December and from April to May, Pemba is drenched as the annual rains flood the island.
The best time to visit this gem would be between June to October – similarly the best time for a safari in Africa.
If you are a keen fisherman and interested in trying your luck with the billfish, your best time to travel would be between September to March. Remember to pack a raincoat along with your fishing hat.
What to do in Pemba?
Pemba is not your typical island destination. The mangrove forests sweep from beneath the sandbanks and cover a large part of the tranquil island; the result: is less accessible beaches surrounding the main island. For this very reason, Pemba is a unique destination and is like no other. During your stay, resorts and tour operators on the island offer boat excursions to coves gently hidden along with the island’s east coast. You may need to rub your eyes a few times when arriving on the picturesque beaches; they are real.
Besides the typical island vibe of crystal-clear waters, Pemba is home to some of the best diving spots in Africa. Pembury Tours can arrange your day trip to Misali Island – an uninhabited haven off the central west coast of Pemba. On Pemba Island, there are various sites where diving is spectacular. Travellers seeking a little less adventure can find various snorkelling spots dotted along the shallow waters of the island.
Stepping onto land, Pemba Island is home to the Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary. Home to around 4,000 endemic Pemba Flying Foxes, the sanctuary has offered a safe home for these endangered mammals.
Another activity for wildlife and nature enthusiasts is the various hiking trails on the island. Walking through the sage forest, you can spot wild flying foxes, red colobus and vervet monkeys, a host of birds and the endemic Pemba Scops owl.
Pemba is not all about scenic landscapes and water-based activities. The island is rich in culture. Experience life as the locals do with a guided village tour or learn a few indigenous recipes. Entice the senses with a walk through the spice farms, home to the 3.5 million cloves – many of them are exported from Pemba each year. Once you have seen, smelt and tasted your way through the island, you can transport yourself back in time and visit the extensive ruins left behind from the 15th century until the present.
Drawing the experience to a close, one can enjoy the amenities and facilities located at your chosen resort.
The selection is endless.
Where to stay?
We have covered the island itself and the activities available but now we need to find you a place to stay in this pristine paradise. Let’s dive in!
1. Manta Resort
Famed for its underwater room, Manta Resort is a secluded and luxurious hotel located in the north-west of Pemba. This is a relatively undeveloped part of the island which allows for guests to experience a silence that is golden, or in this case, turquoise. The property is home to 17 rooms that are divided into sea villas and garden rooms. The 18th room is what has put this beautiful hotel on the map for many travellers. The Underwater Room can be booked for as an overnight during your stay at the Manta Resort. Each room at the resort, including the Underwater room, offers guests a comfortable and luxurious stay with crisp bedding and stunning amenities.
Photo Credits: Manta Resort
2. Fundu Lagoon
Arriving at Fundu Lagoon, your first thought may be: “Where is the property” – set between the trees, this incredible property offers a range of different room types. Each room is unique and spacious – with no room facing the other. The next thought may be: “How long is the jetty!” – Fundu Lagoon greets its guests with a showstopper, the property jetty. Built in connection with the tides, the jetty offers snapshot moments and romantic dinner spots.
Photo Credits: Fundu Lagoon
3. Constance Aiyana
Newly built, Constance Aiyana is located on the north of the island, within the vicinity of the Ngezi Forest Reserve. The resort is located within an ideal distance from the bustling capital and coved beaches. Thirty individually designed villas are placed around the coastline, offering spectacular views of the dense forest and clear ocean. Each villa is spacious and inviting, with neutral tones and modern touches, the accommodation will have you feeling relaxed the minute you open the door.
Photo Credits: Aiyana Resort
And that is it.
Yes, Pemba Island offers three luxurious properties which is much less when compared to the sister island, Unguja (Zanzibar) – which offers over 115 properties.