Pemba Island, known as "The Green Island" in Arabic, is an island forming part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, lying within the Swahili Coast in the Indian Ocean. Pemba is very fertile, and always seems greener and more arable than Zanzibar Island. It also produces far more cloves than Zanzibar - and its economy is still far more dependent on agriculture than Zanzibar, and far less dependent on tourism.
Pemba is one of the most densely populated areas of Tanzania, with most of the people living in fairly traditionally-designed square houses, built using mud walls around a wooden frame and with roofs of thatch or corrugated iron. Pemba's main town, and the island's administrative capital, is Chake Chake - and that's where the island's airport is.
Pemba Island is one of the top diving and snorkelling locations off the coast of Tanzania with the entire island surrounded by coral reef. Between the island and mainland Tanzania the Pemba Channel shelves off to depths of more than 2,000m, and Pemba is famous for seriously large sea fish, which include barracuda, tuna, shark, and even whales.
This is a glorious playground for experienced divers. Visibility is generally very good and there are some spectacular pinnacles. Currents are strong at Pemba so it’s not ideal for first time divers.
Best times for diving
Diving is good all year round, but in the dry seasons the water will have better visibility. The only things that could make a day at sea more challenging would be the Kas-Kazi winds that blow from December till April. Whale sharks tend to be seen around the island from September-December. The heavy rainfall, which makes for slightly reduced visibility, tends to be around late April and early June.