If you are looking to escape the crowds of Zanzibar then take a trip over to Pemba Island. Known as The Green Island, Pemba is far from flat and dusty, here you will be greeted by a lush, wild and rugged green terrain that clings to the cliffs and sweeps across the valleys.
Pemba Island is not a place for the faint hearted, even though it’s only a small leap from the tourist refuge of Zanzibar this small island is a world apart. Those who have been bitten by the travel bug and relish the chance of adventure will be lured into the mystical heartlands of the island. In the depths of the mangroves Voodoo is practiced and the misty blue lagoons that line the creeks tempt bathers in to escape the cloying sweet air permeated with cloves.
Pemba is an experience that will tap into all your senses and leave you feeling alive and in awe of deep East Africa. However travelers should be aware that Pemba is far more isolated from tourism than its bright and bustling neighbor Zanzibar. In Pemba you may struggle to find the basics like flushing toilets, road signs, tour guides and ATM machines. Here you will find Swahili life continuing as it has been for centuries, decorated with traditional healing methods, song and dance.
If you are looking to do more than lie on the beach for five days straight then Pemba may be the place for you. Its coastline is jagged and wild with lots of creeks and coral, making it more than a simple beach island escape.
Pemba is a refuge for divers; you can plunge to the depths of the seabed with a spot of snorkeling at Misali Island. Wander into the mangroves and climb through caves and dive deep into the soft lagoons. Watch a traditional Pemban bullfight and catch a glimpse of the spectacular flying foxes that populate the island.
In the depths of the mangrove forests you can meet a local witchdoctor and learn about alternative healing methods and battling evil spirits. As you can see Pemba is the perfect place to embrace a lesser known side of Africa. Whilst Zanzibar may have the beaches, the market criers and the boutique hotels, Pemba has the wilderness, the culture and the excitement.
However if you are still hoping to sit back and relax then Pemba has a stunning stretch of white sands and azure waters perfect for kicking back with a book in hand. The local birdlife that flocks over the lush green forests are magnificent and at sunset the sky can burn bright and be decorated by colorful birds.
Despite being a small and mystical island Pemba still offers visitors a wide range of accommodation facilities. Whether you want a dive and bush inspired camp beneath the stars experience or a modern residence dressed in white sheets and with toilet paper readily available – there certainly are options for everyone in Pemba.
The food you will find in Pemba is typical African fanfare. Start the day with a warm chapatti and plenty of bright and zesty fruits to boost your energy levels. Every little restaurant will serve up plenty of rice and bean concoctions, thin light soups and fresh seafood.
Being an island the only way to access the emerald shores of Pemba is to take a ferry or a chartered flight. Small aircraft carriers are accustomed to carrying tourists and travelers from the larger island of Zanzibar on a daily basis and settling them on the small runway of Chake Chake in the center of Pemba. Whilst there are ferries available, visitors should be more inclined to fly as the ferries are infrequent and poorly maintained.