Prison Island Tour
Despite its weighty history, Changuu Island is less than 1km in length and only around 230m
wide. The island lies just 30 minutes’ by boat from Stone Town, and has plenty to offer the day
visitor – from history to wildlife to simple beach relaxation.
Changuu Island is more commonly known these days as Prison Island, a reflection of its use
in the 19th century. In 1860 the island was given to two Arabs who used it as a base to hold
‘difficult’ slaves before they were sold in the slave market in Stone Town, or sent abroad. Thirty
years later, when it came under British ownership, the plan was to use it as an official prison for
the African mainland, but although a prison was built, it never fulfilled its purpose. The island
later had a brief spell as a quarantine station for yellow fever, before being opened up to tourists.
What to expect on a visit to Prison Island
The 30-minute boat ride from Stone Town soon leaves behind the narrow streets of the old city,
bringing you to the shores of one of Africa’s more notorious islands.
Once on Changuu Island, your guide will explain the colourful history of the area, including the
prison building – which still stands. Today the island is home to some of Zanzibar’s oldest
residents – descendants of the Aldabra giant tortoises that were a gift to the people of Zanzibar
from the Seychelles government; some of them are rumoured to have reached over a hundred
years old. Look a little harder and you may also spot butterflies, bats and even the very shy
The island is fringed with coral reefs and your guide will make sure you have snorkeling
equipment so you can potter around in the shallows, marveling at the colorful marine life, or
simply soak up the sun on the soft sands surrounding the island.
Please note: Expert Africa only books excursions as a part of a full, Expert Africa itinerary.
Start location Any of Expert Africa’s hotels in Stone Town End location Back at your hotel Meals
included No meals are included Duration Half-day Maximum group size Depends on the size of the