Pemba Island is 50 kms north of Zanzibar and is famous for its spices and coconuts. Isolated from Arab and then European colonization, it has remained completely untouched and unspoiled by any modern development. This sleepy island is an ideal […]
Pemba Island is 50 kms north of Zanzibar and is famous for its spices and coconuts. Isolated from Arab and then European colonization, it has remained completely untouched and unspoiled by any modern development. This sleepy island is an ideal place for a honeymoon or just to relax and unwind. For the more energetic, Pemba is listed as one of the top diving locations in the world. It has without doubt some of the clearest water in the world and most beautiful reefs. Although part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Pemba is a destination in and of itself with numerous surrounding islands and islets spread all along its coast. Pemba has some of the world’s best diving and fishing and because it is not as traveled as its more famous neighbor, Zanzibar, it is that much more pristine.
The island is also dotted with ruins dating to the 7th century, when Arab traders built permanent mosques to spread Islam. Pemba has been an important trading center along the Swahili coast for 3,000 years and once played a major role in trade with Persian Gulf countries and India.
The warm Indian Ocean waters surrounding Pemba Island are home to thousands of species of tropical fish and exotic marine life. Pemba is renowned not only for its pristine and un-spoilt coral reefs but also for its vertical coral cliffs, which plummet to depths of more than 800 meters. Underwater visibility often reaches 40 meters or more. Looking over the precipice of some of the outer walls can be a mind-blowing experience. Watch out for the vertigo! There is a stunning wreck dive available to the south of Pemba Island at Panza, which is home to large groupers and Napoleon wrasse.
On a low tide, walking along the sand flats will reveal an astonishing array of inter-tidal wildlife. This is particularly interesting for bird watchers as the waders, such as herons, ibises and egrets, flock to the area to hunt for small invertebrates and fish left behind on the sands and in the shallow sea pools. You can sometimes see the beautiful fish-eagle circling overhead and hear the shrieking of the brown-headed parrot in the trees. Other things to discover include many different shells, crabs, starfish and the peculiar mudskipper, a fish that can skip across the sands on its pectoral fins.
Other activities include traditional dhow sailing trips, which are popular at sunset. Sail around the Island on a wooden dhow, listen to the wind in the sails and the water lapping around the dhow as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean, turning the skies into a myriad of colours.
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