Christened the “Spice Island”, Zanzibar is the one-holiday destination that surpasses one’s expectation of leisure in Africa.
The islands which are strung together magnify East Africa’s coastline fame but two islands in the mainland steal the show; Pemba Island and Mafia Island are magnificent and inviting, offering more than just a good time on pristine beaches.
Stretches of clove plantations are the eye candy of Pemba Island located 48 km north of Zanzibar. The island is the single largest producer of cloves in the region and has been nicknamed “The Green Island”. Its topography is hilly and serene.
Manta Resort is the highlight of the island due to its prolific underwater sea life. The resort is the first-ever resort in the region with an underwater room buoyed offshore with a glass-cushion design dipped 4m beneath the sea surface while a lounge area sits on the rooftop deck.
Life beneath the sea is marvellous, with all types of marine species on display and unforgettable diving escapades provided by Misali, one of the conservation areas in Pemba’s coast. The area also has a turtle sanctuary.
Mafia is a conglomerate of several small islands in the mainland in Zanzibar. It means “group of islands” in the southern part of Zanzibar which was centuries ago a docking area for ships from Egypt, Rome and Greece and is now highly reputable for its diving experiences.
What’s intriguing about Mafia Island is the quiet nature which supports the existence of a huge number of whale sharks. Being the third largest island in Zanzibar, mainland rivers drain here and humpback whales have now found a breeding place which they visit every year.
Just like Pemba Island, a marine conservative area, Mafia Island has ease of access to areas under marine conservation which Pole Pole Lodge – the leading eco-lodge in Zanzibar – capitalizes on. It is the best place to stay while visiting Mafia Island. It supports underwater sea life and you can reef dive and swim with the sharks, all safety measures are taken though.
Several of the small islands that make up Mafia have wonders to offer. Juani Island is a turtle hatching zone and the only fruit bat sanctuary in East Africa. Chole Island, a 10-minute distance from Pole Pole takes you to 19th-century ruins in Zanzibar.