Alternatively, leave the more popular and known island of Unguja behind and set sail for Pemba, which is smaller, lusher and hillier than its neighbour. Few tourists come here, and the beaches are beautiful, unspoiled, and out of this world. At night the wind that whispers through the clove plantations, which cover most of Pemba, might bring along with it the sound of distant drumming. But don't be tempted to set off toward the noise as in the 1930s Pemba was world famous for the power of its sorcerers and magicians, with devotees of the black arts coming from as far away as Haiti to be initiated into the rites of Pemban witchdoctors. By all accounts Pemba is still a centre of witchcraft today, but visitors are unlikely to see any signs of the occult.
Instead, you can float across spectacular coral reefs, laze on those untouched beaches and explore the winding hills and dense vegetation of the interior. The tiny number of visitors to Pemba every year means that the island has little in the way of tourist infrastructure, which for alternative traveller is the main attraction. Small guesthouses are dotted around the island, and there are a couple of upmarket diving hotels and resorts.
Misali Island, to the west of Pemba, is reputed to have been used as a hideout by the notorious pirate Captain Kidd and legend says that he even buried treasure here. Today a conservation program has been established on the island, where visitors can come for the day, snorkel off the beach and walk in the forest. Locals believe the island is holy having been used by the prophet Hidara as a prayer mat.
Imagine yourself encapsulated within a turquoise blue bubble, watching shoals of reef fish swimming lazily by - sometimes in three or four layers of different species above the reef floor.
They call the police "popo" in Pemba too? No, no, my friends. When I say popo, I mean the Kiswahili word for bats. Pemba is home to the "Pemba Flying Fox" a type of large.
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