Pemba is the second largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. It lies about 80km northeast of Unguja (Zanzibar) and about 80km east of the Tanzanian coast. Around 67km long and 22km wide, Pemba is less visited, less developed and more verdant, fertile and hilly than its more famous sister island. The island is renowned for its spice plantations (particularly cloves, which are laid out to dry beside the roads and in front of houses), which, with an abundance of tropical fruit trees, have largely supplanted the indigenous tropical forest that once covered the island.
Pemba Island’s vibrant, virgin coral reefs, untouched beaches and tranquil pace make it a perfect destination for a deeply relaxing holiday away from the hurly-burly of daily life; its vibrant virgin coral reefs will excite anyone who enjoys the spectacle of a dazzling, varied and healthy marine environment – and not having to share it. Spinner dolphins, flying fish, marine turtles and humpback whales may enliven your dhow cruise; below the surface, the Pemba Channel has over 320 coral species where you can ogle at a mesmerising variety of striking flatworms, rays, reef fish, Napoleon wrasse and schools of barracuda.
You don’t have to relax, explore the underwater world, contemplate the shifting tides and turquoise waters, ponder the movement of the sailing boats or walk along empty beaches of soft, white sand. The remains of a 15th-century settlement can explored near Pujini and the Ras Mkumbuu Ruins are testament to one of the largest trading cities on the Swahili Coast in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the northeast of the island, the overgrown Chwaka Ruins testify to the existence of a large 15th century town.
Ngezi Forest Reserve protects the 1440 hectares of indigenous forest surviving. The dense forest is dominated by towering hardwood trees inhabited by vervet monkeys, red colobus, Galago bushbabies and Pemba flying fox. Most of Pemba’s bird species are found in Ngezi and owl-spotting walks can be arranged.
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