Prison Island gets its name from the prison built to condemn Zanzibari citizens to the isolation of the island, looking out at the coast. Previously owned by an Arab to house his rebellious slaves, the prison was never used, and the island is now home to a tortoise sanctuary, prison ruins and hotel.
Prison Island is 20 minutes away from Stone Town by boat and has spectacular coral reefs to enjoy while snorkeling. Giant tortoises shuffle through the trees, with the patience that old age brings you. Originally thought to be from the Comoros Islands and Seychelles, some of these tortoises are said to be over 100 years old. Stately and lumbering, the tortoises have even been known to take children on a ride.
Lunch is available on the island and then you’re left to your own devices. If you’re feeling active, you can explore one of the hiking trails, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters in search of colorful tropical fish darting through the reef or soak up some sun on the powder white beach. Thatched bandas are dotted along the waterfront, available for hire if you wish to stay for the night.
The Prison Island excursion is a great companion to a morning city tour. After an eventful morning of walking through the busy streets of Zanzibar, you can enjoy this slow and relaxing island excursion.
• Swim wear, towel, and water-resistant shoes.
• Hat and sunscreen.
• Please do not feed or touch the tortoises.