Zanzibar (official name of the island is Unguja) is the most famous island in the Zanzibar Archipelago of Tanzania, but there is so much more to this region than can be explained in a single article. The islands in and around the country of Tanzania offer breathtaking views of scenery that you simply cannot compare to anywhere else in the world. The area’s rich history of multicultural influence draws history and culture buffs the world over to its many shores.
In this article we will detail 8 Zanzibar islands that no enthusiastic traveler should miss out in their worldwide explorations.
Arabian fortresses, an operational spice farm and all of the luxury accommodations that you could want make Zanzibar one of the leading tourist destinations in East Africa. This island takes the limelight when most people talk about the archipelago and while it is certainly not the only one worth visiting, it is the most notable. Beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, incredible seafood and spectacular diving make for an incredible time on any trip.
This small and quiet island is a great destination for those looking to escape the more tourist-saturated parts of the archipelago. It offers few hotels, but a lot of history and fabulous diving experiences that make any other diving adventure pale in comparison. The brightly-coloured marine life and unique underwater landscapes make for a diving adventure that you will regret missing out on. Pemba is host to many attractions, including a flying fox sanctuary.
The third biggest of the Tanzanian islands, Mafia used to be a bustling trading hub for Greece, Portugal, Egypt and other nations centuries ago. Pemba and Mafia share the trait of having incredible diving destinations, but Mafia offers something extra for those who have a deep-seated love of marine life: extra-fertile waters that encourage sea life breeding. Whale sharks and humpbacks can often be seen in the area, as the waters of Mafia make for incredible breeding grounds.
You’ll know you’re seeing Chumbe if a brilliant white lighthouse juts out from the sea to greet you. This lighthouse is steeped in cultural significance, as it was present during The Battle of Zanzibar in 1914. The lighthouse is still operational today, but it is not the only incredible thing about this island.
In 1994 Chumbe became the Chumbe Island Coral Park. The island became the first privately-established protected marine park in the world and is completely funded by tourism. The waters surrounding Chumbe boast the greatest coral forests in the world, with over 200 species of coral and 450 species of fish navigating through the area. Diving is prohibited on this island, but that doesn’t have to stop you from snorkeling to view the impressive coral life that’s taken hold on the one-mile expanse off the island’s eastern shore.
If you get an opportunity to visit this very conservative and relatively untouched island, you should consider yourself very privileged. To gain access to the island of Tumbatu, one must first obtain a written permit from the Sheha. There are only one or two destination organizations that are allowed to bring visitors to Tumbatu. As you might expect of such a closed-off island society, little is known about it. If your intention is to respectfully immerse yourself into a different culture and learn something valuable, it’s worth trying to book passage to this island.
Nestled in the southwest corner of Lake Victoria, Rubondo is an untouched paradise for game fishermen and enthusiastic bird observers to relax and enjoy the sights. There is only one lodging accommodation on the pristine island, the Rubondo Island Camp. The camp offers a genuine and immersive experience on the island that you just cannot get out of a luxury resort. Boating safaris and walking adventures are available in abundance on this island. Watch out for alligators!
This island offers the perfect backdrop to any swimming or snorkeling adventure in the archipelago. Commonly known as Prison Island, Changuu pays homage to its intense history while simultaneously repurposing the buildings of its past. There is no Tanzanian island that better illustrates the merging of modern-day and the years gone by better than Changuu.
This isolated Zanzibar Archipelago island is a haven for big game fishermen. The unpopulated and pristine island of Latham sports over 20 species of game fish, available at different times of the year, which brings fishermen year-round to its isolated shores.
Zanzibar may be the most popular island to visit in the archipelago, but it is certainly not the only island with something to offer. Take a trip beyond the expected, travel along the roads less traveled, and witness some incredible maritime sights from the beauty of Mafia, Pemba and the like and once you have explored the islands you can take flights from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam and from there to wherever you need to head to.