Destinations Eastern Africa

5 Insanely Beautiful Islands in Tanzania You Should See

Mafia Island
Written by Abraham Odhiambo

When it comes to the most beautiful islands in Africa, then Tanzania has it all covered. White sand, luxuriant nature, amazing sunsets, heavenly beaches, turquoise waters, marine reserves and dhows that slowly slide on the water are what define the stunning islands on Tanzania’s coast.

After a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro or one of the most popular national parks on the mainland, opt for an island vacation before leaving. While the Zanzibar archipelago is Tanzania’s most well-known island cluster, it is far from the only one. See Africa Today brings you five beautiful islands in Tanzania you shouldn’t miss on your next trip. Each of the islands offer something unique.

1. Zanzibar

Officially known as Unguja, Zanzibar Island is the highlight of the Zanzibar archipelago. It was originally known as the Spice Island and was one of East Africa’s most prosperous commercial destinations. For years, this tropical paradise has been a favourite destination for honeymoons or an original New Year’s Eve due to its infinite beaches, rich history and culture.

Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Island. Photo/ Daily Sabah.

Today, Zanzibar Island is the most populated, largest and most accessible island in Tanzania. During your trip to the region, explore the cobblestone of Stone Town and spend time at the Old Fort of Zanzibar, St. Joseph’s cathedral, Sultan’s Palace and Darajani Market.

2. Mafia Island 

Floating off the coast of Dar es Salaam in the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean, Mafia Island is one of the most beautiful islands in Tanzania. Here, you’ll easily see the whale shark, admire the coral reefs and swim among 400 different species of tropical fishes. The sea bottom of Mafia Island is remarkably preserved and offer unique diving experiences as well as snorkelling.

Mafia Island

Mafia Island. Photo/ Zanzibar Nature Trails.

3. Mnemba Island 

Mnemba Island is a small, triangular-shaped island located off the coast of Unguja. It is privately-owned and features luxurious beachfront resorts such as &Beyond beach resort that are specifically reserved for guests. Although use of the island is reserved exclusively for its guests, non-guests are welcomed to use the reef.

The highlight of Mnemba Island is the amazing Mnemba Atoll, which is a spectacular coral reef found on the northwest coast. The reef has been declared a marine reserve due to its incredible diversity of aquatic life. This is the place to explore water species such as moray eels, turtles, lionfish, stingrays and barracudas.

4. Rubondo Island  

Located in the south-western corner of Lake Victoria, Rubondo is one of the most beautiful islands in Tanzania. The majority of the uninhibited island is covered in dense subtropical rainforest whereas the rest is made up of reeds,  marshland and liana.

Rubondo Island

Rubondo Island. Photo/ Mahlatini.

The vegetation provide a home to so many species such as chimpanzees, amphibious sitatunga antelope, crocodiles, giraffes and hippos. Rubondo Island is also an ideal destination for bird watchers as it is home to more than 300 species of birds.

5. Pemba

Well, you can’t talk about the most beautiful islands in Tanzania and fail to mention Pemba. The green island, as some people refer to it, is the second largest in the Zanzibar archipelago. It is largely underdeveloped and characterized by mangrove forests, clove plantations, coral reefs and lush hilltops.

Pemba Island

Pemba Island. Photo/ Uroadventure.

Pemba is the place to go if you want to get away from the overcrowded  Zanzibar Island. It boasts breathtaking sandy beaches and diving spots rich in fish and coral which attract holiday makers.

What Is the Most Visited Island in Zanzibar?

Unguja Island. This is the best Island of Zanzibar and some people just call it Zanzibar Island. Unguja is the largest and most populated island in the archipelago. Most tourist activities and stunning resorts are found here.

What Famous Island Is Near Tanzania?

Zanzibar is one of the Indian Ocean islands. It is situated on the Swahili Coast, adjacent to Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania). It is the most famous island in Tanzania’s coast.

Why Is Zanzibar So Famous?

Zanzibar is famous for its spices and that’s why the island is sometimes referred to as the Spice Island. Second only to tourism, spice farming form a major part of the economy of Zanzibar.

What 3 Islands Will You Find in Tanzania?

  • Zanzibar
  • Pemba Island
  • Mnemba Island

About the author

Abraham Odhiambo

Abraham Odhiambo is a writer with interests in nature, travel, African safari and sports. I'm pursuing a bachelor's degree in Media and Communication at Egerton University.

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