The Green Island
Often overshadowed by the main island of Zanzibar, Pemba offers a more rural and authentic experience than its bigger sister, and whilst there are only a scarce number of top properties on the island, the diving here is world-class and arguably the best along the entire east African coastline.
Whilst the beaches here might not be as good as those found on Zanzibar, the island is a fantastic destination for those of an active nature; the abundance of marine life means Pemba is ideal for snorkelling, diving and fishing, plus boat trips allow visitors to explore some of the offshore islands.
Pemba Island Vs Zanzibar
Whilst Zanzibar is flat and sand-strewn, neighbouring Pemba Island is hillier and more verdant with forests, mangrove swamps, hidden beaches, lagoons, and tidal sandbanks; it's the island of cloves, mangoes, and hillocks lush with fruit and spice trees. Named by early Arab traders as the 'Green Island', thanks to its fertile soil, Pemba's culture has been influenced by Arabian and Persian settlers; and the coastline is littered with ancient ruins of mosques and tombs, a reminder of a bygone age.
Best time to visit Pemba Island
Pemba Islands's proximity to the equator means that temperatures are relatively consistent all year round, averaging a tropical 26C. The best time to visit is during the dry season (July to late October), when visibility is ideal for diving and humidity is at its lowest, making the island an excellent destination to top off an East African safari. The months of November and December see the smaller rainy season, and visibility for diving is much lower. January and February is the hottest time to travel, with warmer humid temperatures and dramatic skies. April and May should be avoided; the heavy rains occur during these months, and the lodges close during this period.
Where to stay on Pemba Island
Part of Pemba Island's appeal is that it has remained relatively undiscovered to the flocks of tourists looking for a beach getaway. The island's quiet and undeveloped nature is emphasized by the fact that there are only a handful of lodges here.
Pemba Island's best-known beach lodge offering 'barefoot luxury', Fundu is popular with couples and honeymooners and with a wide variety of room types, there are countless options possible. For divers, some of the best reefs on the east African coast to explore. Other activities range from village tours to kayaking through the mangrove forest, deep-sea fishing and sunset boat trips.
The Manta Resort
The Manta Resort in the north offers sandbank trips, deep sea fishing, local school trips, catch and release fishing, kayak safaris and snorkelling, plus diving lessons from its dedicated diving centre. Renowned for its underwater room, it's a laidback and unpretentious beach retreat.
The Aiyana Resort
With 30 individual villas, this luxurious hotel sits at the very north of the island, within the vicinity of the Ngezi Forest Reserve. Activities include diving, snorkelling, plus kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, and island or plantation tours.
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