Although separated by only 100km of sea, Pemba and Zanzibar are very different. Unlike Zanzibar, where tourist infrastructure is well developed, Pemba remains largely ‘undiscovered’. Much of the coast is lined with mangroves and lagoons; however, there are stretches of sand and some idyllic uninhabited isles.
Lively Chake Chake, set on a ridge overlooking mangrove-filled Chake Chake Bay, is Pemba’s main town and the best base for visiting the island’s southern half, including Misali. There’s no equivalent of Stone Town here, but it’s an appealingly scruffy city whose compact core is packed tight with small shops and makes for an interesting walk.
The rundown town of Wete is Pemba’s second-largest port, situated on an inlet on the northwest coast of the island. It is a good base for exploring northern Pemba. It’s also the easiest place to see Pemba flying foxes, with a large colony hanging from some trees just uphill from the port.
Jambiani is a long village on a stunning stretch of coastline. The village itself, a sunbaked and somnolent collection of thatch and coral-rag houses, is stretched out over more than a kilometre starting just south of Paje. The sea is an ethereal shade of turquoise and is usually dotted with ngalawa (outrigger canoes), while on the beach women tend seaweed farms.
North of the Ngezi Forest, thick trees give way to scrub as you wend your way up the remote Kigomasha Peninsula to the headland with its winking lighthouse and sweeping views back across the island. Curving around the eastern side of the peninsula is the stunning, 4km-long Vumawimbi Beach.
Curling around Chwaka Bay like a long bony finger, the 10km stretch of beach along the eastern side of the Michamvi Peninsula is the stuff of advertising posters. Fine, white, coral sand offsets a sea of extraordinary colours, merging from blue to green and the deepest sapphire.
The small and unremarkable beach at Mangapwani is notable mainly for its nearby caves, and is frequently included as a stop on spice tours. The caves are located about 20km north of Zanzibar Town along the coast, and are an easy walk from Mangapwani beach. There are actually two locations.