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Pemba Island


988 km² (381 mi²)



Best time to visit

June to October and December to February

A treasure trove of lagoons, forests & white sandy beaches

A slice of heaven located north of Zanzibar and only 60km from mainland Tanzania. Pemba's pristine beaches and lush hills create stunning scenery that fills you with wonder. It may be lesser-known, but it's a treasure trove of stunning lagoons, tidal sandbanks, and ancient Arabic ruins. You can discover small offshore islands such as Kokota, which stands out for its successful reforestation projects. There are many things to do, including diving, snorkelling, or relaxing on the beach. Pemba Island's warm hospitality, beachfront accommodation, and mouth-watering cuisine make it the perfect destination for an enchanting tropical beach holiday.

Dhow boats off Pemba Island

Pemba Island Holidays: Serene Beaches & Pristine Diving

Pemba is the northernmost island in the archipelago. It is the smaller, hillier and greener “sister island” of Zanzibar. Despite being equally beautiful, Pemba is often overshadowed by its world-famous sister island and is sometimes even forgotten. Nevertheless, Pemba has a serene and laid-back atmosphere, where the local people are friendly, and the villages are set amongst spice plantations, fruit trees and lush tropical vegetation.

Pemba has pristine beaches, primaeval forests, picturesque ruins, and beautiful offshore islands. As it receives few visitors, this secluded island is ideal for honeymooners.

Located just 60km off the mainland of Tanzania, Pemba offers the perfect combination of a relaxing beach escape and a thrilling mainland safari or mountain trek. Ask us about our safari and beach packages or our Mount Kilimanjaro climb and beach packages.

There are ferries from Zanzibar to Pemba, but the crossing can be rough and unsafe. Consequently, the easiest way to get to Pemba for most visitors is to fly to Pemba Airport from Arusha, Dar Es Salaam or Zanzibar.

Once there, visitors will see several of the island’s four million clove trees, some over 100 years old, and discover why Pemba is known as the ‘Clove Island’ of the Indian Ocean.

If you love the ocean, you’ll find plenty to explore in the Pemba Channel Conservation Area, which spans the entire west coast of the island. It’s a stunning natural habitat that provides a sanctuary for species such as rare dugongs, dolphins, humpback whales, and five types of sea turtles. Several of its beaches are crucial breeding sites for green and hawksbill turtles. The diving sites in the area are widely regarded as some of the best in East Africa and include Misali Island, the Kigomasha Peninsula, the Fundu Gap, and the Njao Gap.

Don’t miss out on Pemba’s other natural wonders. Ngezi Forest, located in the north, is a protected rainforest home to an endemic bat species known as the Pemba flying fox, which can be seen flying at dusk. Another gem is Misali Island, which is world-famous for its beautiful corals and beaches.

If you are a history enthusiast, visit the Mkama Ndume Ruins near Pujini village. These ruins are the remains of a 15th-century Swahili town ruled by a despotic sultan. They are located southeast of Chake Chake, Pemba’s largest town. If you go west of Chake Chake, near Ndagoni village, you can explore the well-preserved ruins of Ras Mkumbuu. Here, you will find ancient tombs and a once-large mosque. Additionally, if you are interested in the origins of your favourite spices, you can take a spice tour to learn about the history of these spices in a modern-day context.

If you visit Pemba Island, you will relax in nature’s embrace.

Pemba map
dry season

The Clove Island

Cloves were introduced to Pemba Island from Maluku Island in Indonesia. Today, ~4 million clove trees have helped Tanzania become the world’s third largest producer of cloves, following Indonesia and Madagascar.

dry season

The Pemba Flying Fox

The Pemba Flying Fox, a fruit bat found on Pemba Island, takes flight from its roost at dusk in the Ngezi Forest. They play a crucial role in pollination and seed dispersal.


The Pemba Channel Conservation Area

The Pemba Channel Conservation Area was established in 2005. It covers 825 km2 on the western side of Pemba Island and is 3 km wide. The area is crucial for coral reefs and marine life in the region.

View from Fundu Lagoon Lodge on Pemba Island

The view from Fundu Lagoon Lodge onto the Indian Ocean.

Jungle Suite at Fundu Lagoon Lodge on Pemba Island

Accommodations like Fundu Lagoon Lodge are built in harmony with nature.

Sit back, relax and enjoy your tropical beach getaway.

Aerial view of Fundu Lagoon Lodge on Pemba Island

Aerial view of Fundu Lagoon Lodge on Pemba Island.


Best time to go to Pemba Island

To experience the best of Pemba Island, plan your visit during its vibrant dry seasons, which last from June to October and December to February. The weather is warm with very little rain, making it the perfect time of year for an unforgettable safari or trek in Tanzania. After your mainland adventure, take a short flight to Pemba Island to relax and unwind on its stunning beaches.

Note that the short rains arrive less predictably between November and December, while the heavy rainy season occurs during the long rains from March to May. Discover Pemba during its best seasons to uncover its true magic.

dry season

Dry Season

June to October

Ideal for a relaxing beach retreat.

rainy season

Green Season

November & March to May

The best time for seeking lower rates on the island.

Why to go

Discover the secret paradise of Pemba Island

Pemba Island offers a glimpse into what Zanzibar was like several decades ago. It is less populated, developed, and touristy; instead, it is home to lush greenery, beautiful birds, and a sense of remoteness. The island has stunning secluded beaches and diverse marine life, making it a paradise for nature lovers and divers. Pemba Island is the perfect destination if you want to escape the crowds and feel disconnected from the world. The island’s unspoiled beauty is matched only by the hospitality of its people.

Boat beach Pemba Island
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Every aspect of the trip was fantastic. A genuinely lifetime family experience. Thank you Arno for your patience and knowledge, the numerous emails and even Zoom calls!
Andrew Sill | USA
Things to do Pemba Island
Your Pemba Beach Holiday

Relax or get active on this remote island in the Indian Ocean.

Things to do

Scuba dive, relax, repeat

You can learn to scuba dive in the warm, clear water surrounding Pemba Island or enjoy exceptional snorkelling in the Pemba Channel Conservation Area. See the Pemba flying fox take to the air at dusk near Kangagani village or enjoy an experience for all the senses during a spice tour. Fish the deep waters of the Pemba Channel for an experience of a lifetime.

star fish beach
Forests and lagoons as habitats

From birds to bats and monkeys to water wildlife.


An island of endemic mammals, birds and plants

Pemba Island is home to rare species, such as the Pemba Flying Fox, Pemba Blue Duiker, Zanzibar Red Colobus, East African Tree Hyrax, and thirteen bat species. It is also an essential habitat for the Pemba Scops Owl, Pemba Green Pigeon, Pemba Sunbird, and Pemba White-eye. Two endemic plant species include the Pemba Palm and Pemba Aloe.

Where to stay on Pemba Island

The Aiyana Pemba Island

The Aiyana

Fundu Lagoon Lodge

Fundu Lagoon Lodge


Pemba Island is situated 60km away from mainland Tanzania. To get to Pemba Island, you can take a flight from Arusha, Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar. Although there are ferries from Zanzibar to Pemba, it’s not considered the safest option.

There are limited accommodation options on the island, but our travel experts can help you choose the right one for you. One popular choice is Fundu Lagoon, located in the southwest of Pemba Island on a beautiful beach accessible by boat. The guest rooms and suites are connected to the main area by wooden walkways and sandy paths.

If you book with us, we will arrange your safari, book your accommodations and organise your transport to Pemba Island.

Your safari adventure before relaxing on Pemba Island

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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