Prison Island Zanzibar

Prison Island Zanzibar, also known as Changuu Island, is a small island spreading across 5.6 Km. Overcoming its turbulent history, Changuu island has become a  must-see jewel of Tanzania with the highlight attraction of being a large home for the tortoises. 

A Glance of History


Changuu Island was purchased by the first British minister of Zanzibar with an initial intention of building a prison there. 


The name Prison Island originated from the initial planning of establishing a prison. It was actually used for a brief time in the 1860s as a prison for rebellious slaves and a coral mine. 


No prison institutions were actually built on the island but rather became a quarantine station for yellow fever cases. Recently, it is  used as a popular holiday destination as a government owned tourist resort and home to a plethora of endangered Aldabra giant tortoises. 


The origin of the overflowing tortoise population of the island dates back to 1919 when the British governor of Seychelles sent a gift of four Aldabra giant tortoises to Changuu from the island of Aldabra. 


By 1955,  the population of the tortoises on the island had grown rapidly being stolen for food or to be sold as pets. A further 80 hatchlings were sent to enhance the tortoise numbers once again on the island.



The island is located northwest of Stone Town, Unguja, Zanzibar.




Situated in Zanzibar, Prison Island Zanzibar has two rainy seasons. The long one takes place in the month of March and peaks in April and May, dusting off by the end of June. 


The short rainy season occurs during the months of November and December. The rest of the year has little rain or no rain. During the wet season, the rain is very low everyday and not all times of the day. There are days when the sky is clear and sunshine fills the town.   


Changuu Island has two dry seasons. The cool dry one takes place from June to October whereas the humid hot dry season occurs in January and February. During the cool dry season, temperatures tend to remain high. 


Best Time to Visit


The cool dry season is the best time to visit Changuu Island as it syncs with the school holiday in America and Europe. Thus, the area sees an increased number of visitors during.


The second tourist season in the island is during the last 2 weeks of December lasting through February. It is the start of the festive holiday season in America and Europe when western travelers like to spend these cold months in a warmer climate of East Africa. 

Things to Do in Changuu Island


1- Chill at the beach: the sandy beach on the island is a perfect place to relax, enjoy the tranquility, and have a sunbath.  


2- Snorkeling: it is an activity that you should not miss. The boat will take off shore to enjoy the deeper water level with a small area of coral.  


3- A walk: having a walk to look back at Changuu Island at the end of the wooden bridge is charming and rewarding. 

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