Prison Island Zanzibar – The Only Prison Where I’d Like To Get Arrested

By Mark Wiens 20 Comments

Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island, is just off the coast of Stone Town, Zanzibar.  Now a tourist attraction, Prison Island was once a place where slaves were detained and at one point, it also served as a place of quarantine.

Prison Island Zanzibar
Prison Island Zanzibar

The boat ride from Stone Town takes 20-30 minutes and the seas at times can be a bit rough. Arriving on the island, there is a mysterious rustic wooden bridge that hovers a few meters above the water, jetting out into the sea.


On one side of Prison Island is a refuge for giant sea tortoises, originally a gift from the Seychelles. A 5 minute walk across the island leads to the former prison ruins. Though in their successful days it was a torturous place to be, nowadays the ocean cliffs, the overgrowth of the plants on the stone walls, and the view of the turquoise ocean is gorgeous!


The biggest attraction is no doubt the colony of Giant Tortoises!


The small sandy beach on Prison Island Zanzibar is a a quiet place where no one will bother you and you can peacefully relax or sunbathe.

If you would like to snorkel, the boat will take you a few meters off shore where you can disembark into deeper water with an small area of coral.  The time I went, the snorkeling was’t that great as the current was quite strong.

A quick walk to the end of the wooden bridge and a look back at Prison Island is a charming view to cherish!  It’s a view that almost makes you wish that you were arrested and thrown onto Prison Island Zanzibar!



How to get to Prison Island, Zanzibar

Tour companies around Stone Town offer the basic same tour to Prison Island including boat fee, entrance fee, and snorkel gear.  If you have a group, you can bargain to get a better rate per person.

Additionally, most hotels or guest houses in Stone Town will offer package deals for taking a 1/2 day excursion to Prison Island, offering an all inclusive price: do some asking around.

Though its definitely not the the BEST attraction on the island of Zanzibar, if you have a 1/2 day free in Stone Town, visiting Prison Island Zanzibar is a decent day trip.

Check out this video of Prison Island!

20 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Clive Kelly

    6 years ago

    So we negotiated a round trip for just 4 dollars a person for four of us, making eight dollars including the entrance fee. It’s well worth it at that price, but two hours is enough. There are peacocks as well as over 100 tortoises, but there is beauty beneath the waves if you care to look. Loads of colourful starfish and crabs near the shore, although I could find many fish when I snorkelled. I’d advise against snorkelling anyway cos there are many spiny sea urchins…

  • Chishikoff

    13 years ago

    This is soo cool !! I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much for your photos! Good design!!

  • Rebecca

    13 years ago

    I agree with you – if I’ve gotta be arrested, then I’d hope and pray they’d stick me here! I see pictures of Zanzibar all the time but I still can’t get over the colour of the water.

  • Laurel

    13 years ago

    Well if you’re going to be a prisoner it looks like this is actually a pretty good place to do it. Interesting about the giant tortoises. I would never have expected them in Zanzibar. Nice photos.

  • Kelly

    13 years ago

    Cool! I LOVE GIANT TORTOISES! I want to go there just to see them!

  • Mark Wiens

    13 years ago

    @Michael: Thanks Michael!

    @Inka: Getting there will be crime enough!

    @Glen: Thanks Glen!

  • Glen

    13 years ago

    Wow, what a great place. Love the pics and video too.

  • inka

    13 years ago

    That giant tortoise shot is fabulous. About getting arrested there….what crime did you have in mind???

  • Michael Hodson

    13 years ago

    some really, really great shots in here from one of my favorite spots in the world

  • Mark Wiens

    13 years ago

    @Alex: At the moment it is definitely a paradise!

    @Global Basecamps: Thanks!

    @Kat: Semi-stable, not too strong, but it was fun walking down it. I don’t really know why it was there, but there was a man fishing off the end of the bridge.

    @Christy: Yes, great prison to visit!

    @Julia: Thanks, there were some monster tortoises on the island!

  • Turkey’s For Life

    13 years ago

    Yeah, certainly doesn’t look like a bad place to be imprisoned! I just love that giant tortoise. He’s gorgeous! 🙂

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic

    13 years ago

    Hmmm… usually I have policy against “visiting” prisons in foreign countries, but I just might have to relax my rule for this one. 😛

  • Kat

    13 years ago

    It does look like a great place to relax in. The waters look amazingly blue! Is that bridge stable? It looks scary as it goes out to the sea and leads to nowhere.

  • Global Basecamps

    13 years ago

    Awesome pictures! Looks like a fun trip.

  • crazy sexy fun traveler

    13 years ago

    Looks more like a paradise than a prison 🙂