Pemba, Pemba Island
Concierge.com's insider take:
A short flight from Unguja—the island commonly referred to as "Zanzibar"—will bring you to this tropical gem, a lush, hilly emerald isle where time moves at a snail's pace. Pemba has seen a mere fraction of the development of Unguja; just a single luxe hideaway, Fundu Lagoon, sits along a cozy crescent of beach on the island's eastern side. Drive along the main (and only) north–south artery, and you'll pass villages all but untouched by the modern world, where farmers lay out the latest harvest of cloves and black pepper to dry in the sun. The island is ringed by a dramatically plunging sea wall that offers some of East Africa's top diving. Because of the time it takes to cover the distance in a dive boat, few people make the trip from Unguja, and you'll probably have most of the sites to yourself. Fundu Lagoon organizes everything from dive trips to spice tours to village visits for its guests, though all come at an additional price.
If you're exploring on your own, you'll find facilities on Pemba basic, with just a handful of tourist-friendly hotels and a range of restaurants best described as modest. Ferries from Unguja arrive (erratically) throughout the week; a better bet is one of the daily direct flights (around $70 with Coastal Aviation; www.coastal.cc) from Stone Town to Karume Airport, a short taxi ride from Chake Chake, the island's largest town. From there you can arrange to rent a car or motorbike to get around the island—a better option than the unreliable dalla-dallas that ply the main roads. The Old Mission Lodge is a good place to start for local info on transportation and island tours, and it also offers excellent dive packages (255-24-245-2786; www.swahilidivers.com).