Zanzibar Prison Island Tour

Trip Highlights

  • Visit Lloyd Mathew’s architecture of the historic building
  • See and get photos taken with the giant Aldabra Tortoises
  • Enjoy snorkeling on the surrounding reef which is always fun
  • Enjoy sunbathing on the powdery-white beaches and soaking in the sun

The trip to Prison Island, a 700m long strip 5km northwest of Stone Town, makes a great excursion. Prison Island gets its name from the prison built to condemn Zanzibar citizens to the isolation of the island, looking out at the coast. Previously owned by an Arab to house his rebellious slaves, the prison was never used, and the island is now home to a tortoise sanctuary, prison ruins and a hotel. 

Prison Island is 20 minutes away from Stone Town by boat and has spectacular coral reefs to enjoy while snorkeling. A coral rag forest within the Island is home to duiker antelopes, bats, butterflies and weavers but the long-lasting attraction are the Giant tortoises that shuffle through the trees, with the patience that old age brings you. Originally thought to be from the Comoros Islands and Seychelles, some of these tortoises are said to be over 100 years old. Stately and lumbering, the tortoises have even been known to take children on a ride. 

Lunch is available on the island and then you are left to your own pleasure. If you are feeling active, you can explore one of the hiking trails, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters in search of colourful tropical fish darting through the reef or soak up some sun on the powdery-white beach. 

The Prison Island Excursion is a great companion to a morning Stone Town Tour. After an eventful morning of walking through the busy streets of Zanzibar, you can enjoy this slow and relaxing island excursion.

Getting There and Back

We arrange excursions to Prison Island, starting with a transfer from your place of stay to the shoreline where you board a boat. Boat transfers takes 30 minutes each way, giving you about three to four hours to explore. On request, trips can be extended to a full day, perhaps in combination with snorkelling off Bawe Island. 


The safari and tour prices  exclude

  • Pick up & transfer from any Stone Town Hotel to the seafront
  • Boat ride from Stone Town
  • Entrance fee to the Prison Island
  • Snorkeling gear

What to bring with you:

  • Swimming suit & towel
  • Sunscreen/block cream and sunglasses
  • Snorkeling gear if you have