Today, 'Kilwa on the Island' is a quiet fishing village, but in its heyday it was the centre of a vast trading network linking the old Shona kingdoms and the goldfields of Zimbabwe with Persia, India and China. While these days are now well in the past, the ruins of the settlement, together with those of nearby Songo Mnara, are among the most significant groups of Swahili buildings on the East African coast and a Unesco World Heritage site.
The only way to visit Kilwa Kisiwani is with a chartered boat and a guide from the Kilwa Islands Tour Guides Association. Non-motorised dhows take about 20 minutes for the crossing, and per person prices start at US$40, decreasing with group size. This price includes guide fees, transport and entry fees. Visiting Kilwa Kisiwani together with Songo Mnara costs US$148 for one person (US$247 for two people), all inclusive.