Zanzibar Town (Stone Town & Ng’ambo)
Zanzibar Town, on the western side of the island, is the heart of the archipelago, and the first stop for most travellers. The best-known section by far is the old Stone Town (Mji Mkongwe), surrounded on three sides by the sea and bordered to the east by Creek Rd.
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.
This large village, nestled among the palm groves at Zanzibar’s northernmost tip, is a dhow-building centre and one of the island’s major tourist destinations. This is despite lacking any sort of substantial beach during much of the year, thanks to shifting tidal patterns and development-induced erosion.
The run-down town of Wete, Pemba’s second largest port, 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. At night they fly off to the north past Annex of Sharook guesthouse.
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. The sea is an ethereal shade of turquoise and is usually dotted with ngalawa (outrigger canoes) moored just offshore.
This quiet arc of beach, about 5km south of Kiwengwa, is dotted with palm trees and backed by dense vegetation, and is about as close to the quintessential tropical paradise as you can get. Thanks to its position in a semi-sheltered cove, it also has the advantage of having less seaweed than nearby Chwaka and other parts of the east coast.