This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines open now

User menu
Prison Island Tour

Prison Island Tour

Overview: 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 duiker.

The island is fringed with coral reefs and your guide will make sure you have snorkelling equipment so you can potter around in the shallows, marvelling at the colourful 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 boat

Photo gallery

What to look forward to.


1 of 1
Prison Island is home to giant tortoises

Prison Island is home to giant tortoises

Ideas for holidays which can include Prison Island Tour

Add this experience to these trip ideas or contact us to start planning your own tailor-made holiday to Zanzibar.


Itinerary image

Cinnamon Beach Holiday

7 days • 2 locations
DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT TO DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT

Explore Zanzibar’s east coast beaches and historic Stone Town, with this good value, family friendly beach holiday.

US$1,220 - US$1,400 per person

Itinerary image

Ginger Beach Holiday

7 days • 2 locations
DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT TO DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT

Combine historic Stone Town with the palm fringed beaches of Zanzibar’s beautiful east coast, staying in two lively hotels with plenty of facilities and activities on offer.

US$1,100 - US$2,010 per person

Itinerary image

Turmeric Beach Holiday

7 days • 2 locations
DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT TO DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT

Relax on powdery white beaches and snorkel over colourful reefs on Zanzibar’s picturesque east coast before heading on to Stone Town to explore the labyrinth of cobbled streets.

US$1,940 - US$2,890 per person

Itinerary image

Masala Beach Holiday

9 days • 2 locations
DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT TO DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT

Two luxuriously elegant hotels offer relaxation on Zanzibar’s beach-front and exploration of Stone Town. Combine peaceful tranquility with fine dining, indulgent comforts and vibrant culture.

US$5,390 - US$7,360 per person

Itinerary image

Coconut Beach Holiday

6 days • 2 locations
DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT TO DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT

A luxurious island getaway split between a small boutique hotel in Stone Town and your own sumptuous private villa on a spectacular swath of white sandy beach.

US$2,180 - US$4,270 per person

Inspire me

Need inspiration?

Let our trip chooser narrow down the options for you

Inspire me

Other excursions in Zanzibar

Inspiration and great ideas for other experiences in Zanzibar to include in your holiday.


Stone Town Discovery Tour

Stone Town Discovery Tour

Half-day

Spend a morning wandering through Stone Town’s maze of alleyways with an erudite Zanzibari resident, meeting the locals, marvelling at its fusion of architecture and cultures, learning about the food, music, beliefs and everyday life, for an utterly fascinating experience.

More about Stone Town Tour
91% (15 reviews)
Princess Salme Spice Tour

Princess Salme Spice Tour

Half-day

Discover the captivating story of the smart and rebellious Princess Sayyida Salme, the youngest daughter of Sultan Said. Join a knowledgeable local guide to follow in her footsteps through palaces and plantations, as well as the fascinating Zanzibar spice trade on a working plantation.

More about Princess Spice Tour
93% (3 reviews)
Jozani Forest Tour

Jozani Forest Tour

Half-day or combine with other tours

For nature lovers, Jozani Forest is a must. One of the last sanctuaries of the red colobus monkey, it features a diverse range of habitats, from mangrove forests to salt marshes. Keep your eyes peeled for other forest residents, including Sykes’ monkey, bushbabies, duikers and more than 40 species of bird.

More about Jozani Forest
65% (4 reviews)
Swahili Cooking Workshop

Swahili Cooking Workshop

Half-day or combine with other tours

Zanzibar’s cuisine and culinary influences are as exotic as the island itself. This genuinely authentic culinary workshop will take you to the heart of the spice farm region, teach you how to select and blend an array of spices, create souvenir blends, and guide you through cooking a traditional Swahili meal.

More about Swahili Cookery
80% (1 reviews)
Zanzibar Dhow Safari

Zanzibar Dhow Safari

Full day - approx. eight hours

Discover the coast and islands of the Menai Bay from a traditional Zanzibari dhow. Explore this beautiful marine conservation area with a local guide, snorkelling over coral reefs, swimming through mangrove lagoons and keeping an eye out for dolphins. To top it all, you’ll also be treated to a fabulous beach barbecue.

More about Zanzibar Dhow Safari
Jambiani Village Tour

Jambiani Village Tour

Half-day - mornings

Tear yourself away from the soft white sands of Zanzibar to get under the skin of the history and culture of Jambiani village. Join a knowledgeable local guide to discover the intricacies of day-to-day life in this traditional coastal village, with much of the profits being ploughed back into the community.

More about Village Tour

Zanzibar fact file

Useful information to help you prepare for your trip in Zanzibar


Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link


New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Order a brochure
  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team