Fundu Lagoon is on Pemba Island, which lies approximately 80 km north-east of Zanzibar Island (Unguja) and is about the same distance from the Tanzanian mainland, situated directly east of the of the port of Tanga. Unlike Unguja, which is flat and sandy, Pemba’s terrain is hilly, fertile and heavily vegetated. The early Arab sailors called it ‘Al Huthera’, meaning ‘The Green Island’. Today more cloves are grown on Pemba than on Unguja. During the rule of the Sultans, it was Pemba, with its extensive clove plantations and agricultural base that provided the economic foundation for the archipelago’s dominance. Today, earnings from the clove crop are supported by other agricultural products, cattle farming, and by fishing, which is an important source of livelihood. Pemba is also renowned for its voodoo and traditional healers. Even today, people come from throughout East Africa seeking cures or to learn the skills of the art from practitioners on Pemba.
In addition to its rich history and traditions, Pemba is of interest for its wealth of natural resources ranging from beaches to mangrove ecosystems to natural forests. The coral reefs surrounding the island protect a multitude of marine species and offer some of the best coral diving in the world. While much of the coast is lined with mangroves, there are a few amazing stretches of shoreline and enough attractive offshore islands with pure, clean beaches and interesting bird-life to keep you busy for quite a while.
The tourism industry in Pemba is still in its infancy and infrastructure is therefore quite basic, although this is slowly beginning to change, Pemba is definitely one of the jewels of the Indian Ocean and is patiently waiting to be explored.
Pemba was seized by the Sultan of Muscat (Oman) in the 17th century. He was so enchanted by the Spice Islands that he installed himself in Zanzibar and ruled Muscat from there. When the Western Colonial powers came to East Africa the British forced the Sultanates of Muscat and Zanzibar to separate and then administered the Spice Islands in the name of the Sultan.
All the while, the Arab dhows (traditional sailing boats) would ply the trade winds down from the Arabian Peninsula to East Africa. With the winds they would take cloves to India, textiles back to the Arab lands and silver and wood to the Spice Islands.