Pemba Introduction
History about Pemba


Pemba is the second largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. It lies about 80km northeast of Unguja (Zanzibar) and about 80km east of the Tanzanian Coast. Around 67km long and 22km wide the town was built over rolling hills. It is a port town located on the south side of the world's third-largest natural bay, with a population of roughly 330 000 people.

The history of the people of the Cabo Delgado province weaves throughout many centuries of African, Arab and Portuguese sailing, trading and settling. The remains of a 15th-century settlement can be explored near Pujini and the Ras Mkumbuu Ruins are testament to one of the largest trading cities on the Swahili Coast in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the northeast of the island, the overgrown Chwaka Ruins testify to the existence of a large 15th century town. The town was founded by the Niassa Company in 1904 as Porto Amelia, after a queen of Portugal.  It was renamed Pemba at the end of Portuguese rule, in 1975.

Pemba is renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture, and is a prime destination for water sports and diving enthusiasts as a coral reef lies close to the shore. Pemba has increasingly become a tourist destination, particularly for upper-middle class Mozambicans and South Africans, and international flights and new facilities are emerging steadily. Pemba Island is one of Tanzania's best kept secrets. Pemba's main attractions include pristine white sand beaches, lush tropical forests, historical tours, and spice plantation visits.

Although Pemba has several world-class attractions, the number of tourists rarely exceeds thirty on any given day, even during high season. The dozens of tiny islands are lush green paradises surrounded by a kaleidoscope of blues, greens and purples. The reefs surrounding the islands are visible from the plane as are the idyllic beaches.

Pemba Island's vibrant, virgin coral reefs, untouched beaches and tranquil pace make it a perfect destination for a deeply relaxing holiday. Spinner dolphins, flying fish, marine turtles and humpback whales may enliven your dhow cruise; below the surface.  The Pemba Channel has over 320 coral species where you can ogle at a mesmerizing variety of striking flatworms, rays, reef fish, Napoleon wrasse and schools of barracuda. Explore the underwater world, contemplate the shifting tides and turquoise waters, ponder the movement of the sailing boats or walk along empty beaches of soft, white sand.

Quirimbas Islands : The 1st Quirimbas Archipelago Island is Quipaco Island that is 20km north of Pemba.  Quirimbas National Park boundary is 13km north of Pemba.  Around 30 islands that stretch starting from Pemba in the south to the town of Palma in the north. They are one of the world's best fishing and diving destinations, with phenomenal vertical drop-offs, some up to 400 meters. Pemba has the largest fan coroal in Africa. The southern islands include an expanse of forests in the Quirimbas National Park. Islands include Ibo, Matemo, Medjumbe, Quilalea, Vamizi, Rongui and Macoloe.  Ilha de Mozambique - seven hours drive to the south, a beautiful and haunting island, once the capital of the country under Portuguese rule. Ibo Island takes you back in time most remote and unspoilt.

Misali Island, one of Pemba's offshore islands, is a favorite among visitors to Pemba.  An example of a successful ecotourism project, the Misali Island Marine Conservation Area uses tourism proceeds to protect the marine ecosystem and support the local communities that depend on the ocean's resources for their livelihoods. Misali attractions include pristine beaches, coral formations, mangrove forests, snorkeling, mysterious caves and several nature trails. The nature trails cover the entire island and provide visitors with information on the ecology and history of the island. On the boat ride to and from Misali, dolphins often jump in the waters around the boat.

Vumawimbi Beach is possibly the most picturesque beach in Tanzania stretching for two kilometers; the wide white sand beach is fringed by a green forest on one side and the clear turquoise water of the Indian Ocean on the other. Vumawimbi has not yet been developed for tourism, making a visit a private experience unlike any other in East Africa. You can organize a day visit to Vumawimbi from any of Pemba's towns, or from Manta Reef Lodge. Ngezi Forest lies only twenty minutes away.

Ngezi Forest Reserve protects the 1440 hectares of indigenous thick forest surviving. The dense forest is dominated by towering hardwood trees inhabited by vervet monkeys, red colobus, Galago bushbabies and Pemba flying fox, Pemba blue duiker and Kirk's colobus monkey. Most of Pemba's bird species are found in Ngezi and owl- bird viewing, spotting walks can be arranged.

Spice plantation tours can be arranged to Pemba's clove and spice plantations.  Although the spice tour industry is not as developed as it is in Zanzibar, Pemba actually produces the majority of spices exported from Tanzania. During a spice tour, expect to see cloves, lemongrass, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper and vanilla.  After the spice tour, visit the essential oil distillery to see how spices are made into oil.  The tour guides are very knowledgeable and the distillation process interesting.
Chake Chake is Pemba's largest town and administrative center. The town sits on a ridge, and there are several views of the island and surrounding ocean from Chake Chake. The night street market offers excellent barbecued seafood bites.  Chake Chake is convenient for planning day trips to areas around the island.  Because there are few beach hotels in Pemba, many visitors choose to overnight in Chake Chake and visit the beaches during the day.

Slave Trade Fort at Ponta Romero Lighthouse: It is an open plan historical monument where slaves were auctioned off, and is also a look out point for incoming ships.
Nacole Baobab - Located inside the bay at Pemba Dive & Bush Camp Resort.  An eco-friendly nature estate with 3 types of mangrove estuaries, bird watching, a secluded sunset beach fire with savanna bush. You can walk inside 9m2 hollow ancient Nacole Baobab, amongst 40 existing Baobab trees and see Large Split Face bats hanging above. During the war this tree served as a hiding place for refugees.
Paquitequete: - 1km after Ponta Romero Light house:
This old traditional fishing village will take you back in time witnessing the traditional trading, lifestyle, building and repairing of the ancient Dhows, which are still active today. Be careful where you step!
Nkwita Lake: - One hour drive from Pemba. The lake collects its fresh water from the surrounding rivers creating a permanent wet land which attracts migrant species and waders. The lake is home to a very prolific bird life, with reed nesting birds constructing nests in the surrounding Savanna Bush. Fresh water birds such as, Raptors and Storks feed on the surrounding bright colored amphibians. Amongst the vast bird population the rare Dickinson's Kestrel has been sighted, and Fish Eagles are resident there. Day trips can be arranged.

Maconde Arts and Crafts: The Maconde Tribe pride themselves as skillful sculptors, creating expressive and aesthetic helmet masks, which are used by dancers with vigor and emotion at the traditional festivals and ceremonies.

Scuba diving
The bay offers protection to an extensive variety of soft and hard coral that attract a legion of species, even the rare 1,000kg oceanic sunfish, large potato bass, Napoleon wrasses, dolphins, whales and turtles. Ideal for professional and novice marine photographers, in warm and calm waters.
2009 proved to have the biggest display of Humpback Whales with up to 5 whales at a time often seen on the shore breaching. It is incredible to dive with the orchestra of the male whales singing their mating rituals right throughout the dive between July-October. The bay is the perfect hunting grounds for kingfish, dogtooth tuna, great barracuda, couta, dolphin fish and wahoo. This region has year round diving conditions. Water temperatures ranges from 25 to 29 Celsius. July and August is winter, it can drop to 24C.
Pemba's diving is one of the best in the Indian Ocean. ThoNairobi nds of species of fish and coral thrive in the warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. Divers can explore the shallow reefs close to the shore or plunge off the vertical coral cliffs that border the coastal reefs. Visibility is about forty meters, and looking over the underwater 800 meter cliffs is exhilarating.  In deeper waters, expect to see barracuda, manta and eagle rays, giant groupers, wahoo, jacks, tuna and garden eel. In shallow water, you'll see colorful starfish, mollusks, crustaceans and many other species of reef fish. Pemba Dive, A registered PADI Resort Business and DAN Business Membership based on Wimbi Beach, with Pemba Dive Reef 100m in front of dive centre. Now offering EFR 1st Aid, speciality dive courses up to divemaster level

Have to get out to Pemba Dive Reef 100m in front of the dive shop on Wimbe Beach to get to the corals for a good snorkel. Marine life is absolutely amazing and with a bit of luck you will get the chance to swim with the dolphins.

Camping & Budget
Pemba Magic Lodge 'Russel's Place' and former Cashew Camp is known in Pemba as "the campsite", Pemba Magic Lodge and Blackfoot Bar is the main meeting spot in Pemba in Namibi Village 3km from Wimbi Beach.  Rent a Bungalow with the bathroom ensuite, bring your own tent or rent one. Residencial Lys, rua 1 de mayo.  Good value and close to the bus stop.
Pemba Dive & Bush Camp based on Wimbe Beach & inside Nacole Bay an eco-friendly coastal Resort offers beach front chalets (B&B), sea view backpacker units and camping. Optional is communal self catering or Potbelly restaurant.  Wifi internet in the Backpacker shop, games & activity room, Dolphin and whale watching, PADI diving, kayaking through the mangroves, archery, bird watching, nature walks, mud bath, at night beach camp fire and drumming. 

Mid-range Camping
Nautilus Beach Resort, offers thatched seaside bungalows (two bedrooms, air-conditioned, a restaurant, casino and a diving and water sports operation. Ondazul, linked to Pemba Dolphin.

Londo Lodge, an exclusive and private hideaway beach resort north of Pemba town bordering the Quirimbas National Park. This boutique hotel opened her doors 2 years ago and has a reputation for hiding the rich. Diving, Game Fishing, Spa facilities, bush walks, dolphin watching. 
Pemba Beach Hotel, outside Pemba, 1 km from Nautilus, a large Arabian style open plan hotel with 60 sea-facing rooms including 2 suites and some interconnected rooms suited for families. All rooms have balconies or terraces, en suite bathrooms, air conditioning, mini-bar, satellite TV, direct dial telephone, coffee/tea making facilities, electronic safe, international plug sockets and hair dryer. Also has 8 two-story villas with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms each and all the above amenities plus fully equipped kitchens and washing machines and dryers and electronic safes. The villas are serviced and accommodate a maximum of 6 guests.  

Hitch hiking around Pemba is safe. There are public busses on the main routes at 5mts. Check the rates before getting in. A taxi ride from the airport to the furthest part of town could cost around 7 dollars = 15km during the day. Charges for transfers with some Hotel shuttle are free, except at 04h00 or early hours of the morning.
Small US$ notes are reluctantly exchanged, and in some cases not, as banks give locals a tough time when they try and exchange these. Try to keep small notes to a minimum, but they are useful for taxi rides and curio purchases.
The beach curio sellers usually mark up substantially. Start negotiations at a quarter of their price and never settle for more than 60%. They negotiate hard, but walk away and they will follow you. Walk away should animals, shells or coral is sold.

The climate is tropical humid. Average annual temperature ranges from a minimum of 22°C to a maximum of 32°C.  The hot rainy season usually runs from December to April. The rain is irregular, can be very heavy and accompanied by strong monsoon winds. The dry season is from May to November, with average temperature of 28°C in the day.  The temperature of the seawater ranges from 25°C to 30°C.

Get in By air
The airport has international flights to and from Johannesburg (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Dzaoudzi (Mayotte). Domestic flights from Maputo, Beira and Nampula are operated by the national carrier Linhas Aereas de Mocambique.  Customs facilities are available at the airport, and visas are available on arrival for some nationalities (check with an embassy ahead of time).
Pack a change of clothes and swimsuit in hand luggage as checked luggage has been known to arrive late.

By road
Good tarred roads connect Pemba to Nampula (438 km) and Ilha de Mozambique (427 km).
National roads run to the east and south to Central Mozambique.
Northwards, the national road from Pemba to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania is partly tarred. Backpackers use a canoe across the Rovuma River at the Quionga border post. The Unity Bridge is now open for cars to drive through at Negomane.

Banguia Authentic Traditional Market Baraca meaning Cheap Shop is a traditional shopping village. It is a long 2km road just above Av. Da Marginal (coastal road). Selling everything a local Mozambican would need as well as arts and crafts, even the Tinman making stoves & pots and Tailors sewing in the side of the road. Avoid ivory, coral, shells and turtle shell said to be sold at the market, since this is sold contrary to Mozambican and International Law. Coral serves its purpose either dead or live. It is a home, breading and feeding grounds to juvenile marine life. You cannot buy plastic shells and most imitation turtle shell, are not plastic. Test it by tapping it against your teeth; bone against bone is the animal. All shells are alive when harvested; dead shells no longer get washed up anymore.  Live shells have a shine when it is killed and the animal removed. Shells that die from natural causes will build up saline sediment and with in a week loose its shine.  A bigger crime are juvenile shells been sold, there no way reproduction can occur.
Rather, purchase natural materials such as coconut fibre, bamboo or wooden arts and crafts. Careful with blackwood: it is scarce and grows very slowly, taking a life time to grow as thick as your arm. Just buying arts and crafts from/next to stall/vendor, that sell shells or coral will still encourage the illegal sales.  Vendors, who claim their ignorance, ask for patience and sympathy are often dishonest. 

Mar e Sol, Wimbe Beach, delicious fish and chips in spicy citrus sauce, Pemba Dolphin, Wimbe beach, good seafood dishes.  Restaurante Discoteca Wimbe, Wimbe beach, Come here for a hot Mozambican atmosphere, Restaurante, Old Town, great view of the bay and good ribs, beef, eisbein and chicken.
Potbelly Restaurant, in Nacole Bay at Pemba Dive & Bush Camp offers Traditional home cooked meals, at times buffet style with fresh seafood and selected meats, vegetarian dishes, light mid-day snack and beach barbeque. 

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