After a long journey across the globe, most travellers drop their bags on Unguja (Zanzibar Island) and never venture on to the lesser known islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago. And to be honest, we’re happy to let them. What we love about places like Mafia and Pemba is that there just aren’t many other visitors. The roads are choked with chickens and drying cloves rather than traffic, and the tiny villages feel as if they’ve barely changed in centuries (though the presence of “David Beckham” hairdressers and “Stamford Road” butchers does suggest some influences have arrived from the western world!) As a gross generalisation we’d say that the beaches here probably wouldn’t rival some of the better ones on Zanzibar, but Mafia in particular is known for the fabulous quality of its diving, and both islands are ideal for those who want utter seclusion.
Accommodation errs towards the rustic side here- it’s all about barefoot luxury rather than glitz and gloss. Expect to lie in bed and hear the waves rather than the hum of air-conditioning. Most lodges have just a handful of rooms, a warm welcome, and an air of utter peace.
Our pick of the places to stay