Whilst most visitors to the Zanzibar archipelago visit Unguja, commonly known as Zanzibar Island, fewer take advantage of the fact that this is an archipelago, with several other islands and numerous islets.
Only a few kilometres from Stone Town are several islets such as Chumbe and Chapwani, where good accommodation is available. Bawe and Prison Islands are good for daytrips with excellent snorkelling available. Tumbatu Island, off the north-west coast of Unguja is one of the largest off-shore islands but has no facilities for tourists. Mnemba Island is located near the north-east coast featuring luxury accommodation. Although Mnemba is a private island, it is surrounded by a rich coral reef, which is great for scuba diving and snorkelling and is visited by several watersports centres in the area.
Pemba is Zanzibar’s sister island. Despite many years of isolation from the outside world, Pemba is receiving a small but growing number of foreign visitors. The infrastructure much less than on Unguja, and there are far fewer tourists, but this is seen as a plus by many! Beautiful beaches, natural forests and outstanding diving are just some of the attractions on offer. Misali island, off Pemba’s east coast, is idyllic and excellent for diving.
Mafia, another island in the sun and no relative of the mob, is actually governed by mainland Tanzania but is not far from the Zanzibar archipelago.
Zanzibar also boasts several small offshore islands which are ideal for a day-trip. Prison (or Changu) island is the most popular with tourists because it is only a short trip from Stone Town. Originally, it was used by Arabs to detain recalcitrant slaves, and then a jail was built by the British, but it was never actually used. Visitors to Zanzibar will notice a large population of ancient Aldabra tortoises. Other islets near to Stone Town are Chapwani, Chumbe and Bawe.