Prison Island

A half day tour

Prison Island is one of the nearest islands from Stone Town, just 20 minutes by boat. It is also known as Changuu Island. There are many trees and plants on this island and it is a delight to walk safely and unhindered through the dappled shadows. Birds abound and bird watchers will find plenty of species to delight them.

Its original use was as a prison and later it was taken over to be used as quarantine station by the British Army. Another prison was then built but never used. Today prison Island is a pleasant destination for a day trip. It has some excellent coral formations just offshore providing a good opportunity for snorkeling.

Another main attraction is the giant tortoises which are over 100 years old. These tortoises are only found on this island. Not indigenous to continental Africa, the original tortoises were brought from Aldabra in the Seychelles in an effort to extend the tortoise conservation efforts. Aldabra is famous for harboring endemic and rare marine life species, and along with the Galapagos Islands, is one of the worlds few places where giant tortoises exist.

Some of the tortoises at Prison Island were rescued from poachers who were intercepted on their way from Aldabra to other parts of the world, where they would sell the animals to private collectors or zoos. These giant tortoises have been living in the Indian Ocean Islands for over 100 million years, but their numbers have fallen to such critically low levels that they are now classified as endangered. The adult tortoises of Prison Island are already producing the next generations, and the future is looking good for the continued survival of this ancient reptile.

We advise clients to bring waterproof shoes for boarding the dhows and to bring towels, sunscreen and a spare T-shirt for snorkelling.