Prison Island is a beautiful and charming small island situated near Zanzibar. Prison Island is not its original name however, it is also known as Changuu Island. But beautiful as it may be, it has a dark history. It is where slaves were held to be transported to Europe or the Middle East.
And the dark history doesn’t end there, the island was also later used as a quarantine center where people who were suffering from life-threatening diseases were taken to prevent them from infecting the healthy population.
Located just 30 minutes from Stone Town, Prison Island is now an enchanting place to visit. Reaching the island is mainly done by motor boat and takes just 30 minutes. The boat ride is between $30 and $40 return. If you are traveling as a group then you’ll be pleased to know that the boats are large enough to carry up to 10 individuals and you can take advantage of it to share the costs.
Travelers need to be aware of the somewhat choppy nature of the Indian ocean. Seasickness is common. The great thing, however, is that the waves calm down as you reach near the shores of Prison Island. The color of the water also changes to a magical turquoise blue.
There are plenty of fun activities to do at Prison Island one of which is to snorkel around the coastline. Granted the waters around the island are not the clearest but they still are great fun to swim in and you can still enjoy some spectacular marine life.
Another excellent way to spend your day at the island is to visit the colony of giant tortoises. In fact, it is one of Changuu island’s highlights. They are huge and they walk around slowly munching on the greenery with some of them weighing as much as 200 kilograms.
Many people are tempted to ride these beautiful giants but while it may have been permitted a few years ago it is a strict no-no now. The tortoises are very old with the oldest at over 192 years. Others are around 150 years old.
It wouldn’t be a complete day at Prison Island if you didn’t visit the ruins which once acted as a prison for the slaves and later the dreadfully sick. While the structures are now weathered by the passing time, they are still an interesting feature on the island.
For many people, just one day at Prison Island is enough to have some unforgettable experiences and scenery. However, if you want to make the most of your time, you can book a room at the only private resort on the island known as Mathews.