A slightly more upmarket choice than Prison Island, Chapwani, or Grave island is the site of a luxury hotel, but day visitors who come to eat and drink in the bar and restaurant are permitted. Chapwani is the site of a British naval cemetery, final resting place of sailors who perished while serving in Zanzibar. The victims of the World War One attack on the HMS Pegasus by the German warship Konigsberg are also buried here. It's interesting to wander around the graveyard and decipher the ages and causes of death of the servicemen - many died from tropical disease, or were killed in skirmishes with local slavers.
Chapwani also has a beautiful white, sandy beach and a small population of duikers (a type of miniature antelope), as well as some interesting birdlife.
Bawe island is further away from Stone Town than Changuu or Chapwani, a good forty five minutes by motorboat, and consequently less visited. It has no facilities of any kind so bring enough food and water with you for the whole day. The beach is excellent at low tide, with unusual stone formations, and there is some good snorkelling to be had on the island's reef.
6 kilometres south of Stone Town, surrounded by pristine coral reef, Chumbe Island Coral Park is one of the world's newest and most successful eco-tourism projects. In 1994 the reef surrounding Chumbe island was created Tanzania's first Marine National Park. The island itself, covered with lush mangrove forest, is a designated forest reserve. Chumbe Island Coral Park won the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award in 1999, in recognition of seven years' conservation work carried out in co-operation with local fishermen, now retrained as marine wardens. Chumbe island contains a lighthouse, built by the British in 1904 and still operational, a ruined Mosque and the lighthouse keeper's house, now converted into a spectacularly-built education centre and restaurant.
Visitors can come for the day to snorkel over the incredible coral reef, which contains over 90% of all coral species ever recorded in East Africa. The reef, declared the 'world's best shallow water coral reef' by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, is home to over 370 species of fish, turtles and dolphins. Guided walks are also available through the island's coral rag forest, interspersed with intertidal pools and huge baobab trees, which supports a unique flora and wildlife population including the rare - and enormous - coconut crab.
But to experience Chumbe Island properly, stay the night in one of the seven 'eco-bandas' that nestle in the forest. Each is a two-storey, private cottage constructed out of local materials and decorated with shells, driftwood and colourful local fabrics. Water and energy on Chumbe are self-sustaining and provided by nature - the roofs of the bandas and the education centre have been designed to catch and filter rainwater, which is then heated by solar power. Beds are high in the palm-thatch roof, with a personal air-conditioning system that involves raising and lowering the front wall of the bedroom like a portcullis!
All profits from tourism on Chumbe Island are re-invested into the conservation and education programs operating in the Park, and the island is staffed and managed by local Zanzibaris from the fishing community, with voluntary support from overseas experts. Day visits are $70, and overnight stays, including full board and snorkelling equipment, start from $150 per person in low season, rising to $200 in high season.
For details email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ring +255 24 2231040. Further information can be found on the project's website: www.chumbeisland.com.