Alternatively, leave the more popular and known island of Unguja behind and set sail for Pemba, which is smaller, lusher and hillier than its neighbour.
Few tourists come here, and the beaches are beautiful, unspoiled, and out of this world.
At night the wind that whispers through the clove plantations, which cover most of Pemba, might bring along with it the sound of distant drumming. But don’t be tempted to set off toward the noise as in the 1930s Pemba was world famous for the power of its sorcerers and magicians, with devotees of the black arts coming from as far away as Haiti to be initiated into the rites of Pemban witchdoctors. By all accounts Pemba is still a centre of witchcraft today, but visitors are unlikely to see any signs of the occult.
Instead, you can float across spectacular coral reefs, laze on those untouched beaches and explore the winding hills and dense vegetation of the interior. The tiny number of visitors to Pemba every year means that the island has little in the way of tourist infrastructure, which for alternative traveller is the main attraction. Small guesthouses are dotted around the island, and there are a couple of upmarket diving hotels and resorts.
Misali Island, to the west of Pemba, is reputed to have been used as a hideout by the notorious pirate Captain Kidd and legend says that he even buried treasure here. Today a conservation program has been established on the island, where visitors can come for the day, snorkel off the beach and walk in the forest. Locals believe the island is holy having been used by the prophet Hidara as a prayer mat.
Visitors to the island are asked to respect local customs and beliefs. There are many historical sites and ruins to explore on Pemba including a number of old mosques and tombs and the old town fort of Chake Chake. The Pujini ruins south east of Chake Chake are the remnants of a fortified town built around the 13th century. The Ngezi Forest is a protected area in the northwest corner of the island.
It is home to endemic flora and fauna species such as the Pemba flying fox; a big bat and the Pemba palm, which is found only in the region of Ngezi Forest and is known locally as ‘Mapapindi palm’. The epitome of a tropical paradise, Pemba has green valleys with rice paddies with palm trees and clove plantations shading the roads.
Vistas of the IndianOcean are breath-taking as they appear and disappear through the peaks and depths of Pemba’s terrain. It is an unmissable sight and completely bewitching.