Chumbe is a 16 acre island and ecological haven 12km (45 mins. by boat) off the south-west coast of Zanzibar. For many years Tanzania had a military base here and strictly restricted access to the surrounding ocean, even by local fishermen. Consequently, the area’s coral reef has remained untouched and contains over 400 species of fish and a diversity of coral rarely seen anywhere else in the world.
The island is now home to the Chumbe Island Coral Park, an exclusive and secluded 7-bungalow accommodation in the heart of a stunning natural wilderness and conservation area. The landscape is covered in natural forest, and though the beach areas are small, the size of the resort means over-crowding is never an issue.
Pemba is known as the “Green Island” for its fertile hilly terrain, lush with fruit and spice trees. It lies 45km north of Zanzibar’s main island (Unguja) and is reachable by light aircraft from there and Dar es Salaam.
Pemba remains largely undiscovered by tourists and offers a more authentic tropical experience than Zanzibar’s main island. Tourist infrastructure is not highly developed – a small number of high end resorts are almost the only tourist accommodations, and it is not considered a beach destination as much of its coast is lined with mangrove. What Pemba offers is world class scuba diving around its healthy coral reefs, along with an abundance of fish.
The Mafia Archipelago is 100 kilometers south of Zanzibar and just beyond the Rufiji River Delta in central Tanzania. The main island is approximately 50km long and 15km wide. It is surrounded by a barrier reef teeming with marine life throughout the bright turquoise water, while the island’s coastline alternates between dense mangrove stands and white-sand beaches.
In 1995, the Mafia Island Marine Park was formed to protect the archipelago’s reefs. More than 460 species of fish and 5 species of turtles have been recorded in the waters around Chole Bay. Within Chole the shallow reefs are perfect for snorkeling and the outside bay attracts experienced scuba divers. The rare and magical experience of swimming with whale sharks may be done during a period from November to April on the west side of the island.
With only a handful of small eco-friendly resorts, the essence of Mafia is less about mass tourism and more about conservation and minimizing human impact. Mafia can be reached via a 30-minute light aircraft flight from Dar es Salaam.
Mnemba is a small privately owned island 3km off the northeast coast of Zanzibar, reachable only by boat. This exclusive beach paradise offers a romantic private hideaway – assured by its lofty prices.
While you may not manage an overnight on the island, the unspoiled reefs surrounding Mnemba are a popular scuba and snorkeling site, with a wide variety of corals, abundant fish life, and common sightings of turtles and dolphins.