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If you thought Mozambique is only about seafood, beaches, and laid-back beach life, you are wrong. Pemba, Mozambique is a powerhouse of cosmopolitan and traditional characteristics as they bloom with history and culture.
In this Pemba city guide, you will discover essential information about the three major cities in Mozambique.
Why Go To Pemba (Overview)
Pemba is the capital of the Cabo Delgado Province located in the northern region of Mozambique. It was founded by the Niassa Company in 1904 and subsequently became a central port city in East Africa.
It is no surprise that Pemba is a cultural treasure and powerhouse thanks to the diversity of ethnic groups living here. There are many people of Swahili, Makonde, Macuas, and Mwanis descent whose traditions live on.
Although Pemba is a lesser-known Mozambican destination, its beaches and coral reefs are nothing short of Tofo and Vilankulo when it comes to diving.
Where is Pemba Located?
Here’s a map showing where Pemba is located in the vast country of Mozambique.
When to Visit Pemba, Mozambique
Pemba’s climate is considered a tropical savanna climate with little temperature gaps between winter and summer. The warmest month is January with average temperatures hovering at 34.5ºC (94.1ºF), while the lowest temperature is recorded in August with average temperatures around 16.5ºC (61.7ºF).
Like the rest of the country, the rainy season falls between December and April. The dry season between May and September is the best time to visit for activities such as water sports.
The Best of Pemba Mozambique
Best Places to Stay in Pemba
#1 Avani Pemba Beach Hotel (more details)
#2 The Nautilus Hotel (more details)
#3 Raphael’s Hotel (more details)
#4 Pemba Beach Lodge nZuwa lodge (more details)
#5 nZuwa lodge (more details)
#6 Nautilus Hotel Pemba Mozambique (more details)
Best Things to Do in Pemba Mozambique
#1 Go diving in Pemba Mozambique
Pemba has over 400 km of coastline boasting unspoiled coral reefs away from the tourist crowd. You can sign up at any diving school to get lessons from experienced divers and even a certificate at the end!
Your first choice should be the Gap reef that offers not only diving opportunities but excellent beaches and a chance to see big game fish. The Gap reef is suitable for advanced divers. For first time divers, The Playground is an excellent option with shallow dive of up to 12 meters (39 feet).
#2 Go shopping at local markets
Pemba’s local markets, called souks, are full of authentic crafts. Silverware and silver crafts are especially in high demand.
#3 Visit the Quirimbas Islands
The Quirimbas archipelago consists of 32 islands stretching all the way up to mainland Tanzania. The world-class diving sites of Mozambique are also located here. The northernmost islands are part of the Zanzibar Archipelago.
The area has a fascinating history of trade wars between the Arab merchants and the Portuguese. For an experience of a lifetime, a dhow safari is something you can enjoy in Pemba. The calm waters in Mozambique make it perfect to sail to Ibo Island.
#4 Wimbe Beach
For a relaxing time in Mozambique, the Wimbe beach is the place to go. You will enjoy soaking in the sun on the white sandy beaches and the views of where the horizon meets the clear blue waters.
Best Things to See in Pemba
#1 Slave Trade Fort
The historic old town of Pemba is full of Portuguese heritage, but the most striking one is the Slave Trade Fort at Ponta Romero Lighthouse. This is where thousands of slaves were auctioned and sold to merchants and masters.
#2 Quirimbas National Park
While you are in the Quirimbas Islands, you must visit the Quirimbas National Park that is home to the wildest of the Mozambican wildlife. Thanks to the conservation projects, the park’s flora and fauna are well-preserved. Surrounded by mangroves, clove trees, coral reefs, beaches, and savannah, you can spot the indigenous animals, including lions, leopards, elephants, crocodiles, and wild dogs.
#3 Baobab Trees at Nacole Baobab
The rare baobab trees of Southern Africa can be found at this small nature reserve near Pemba Dive & Bush Camp-Resort. There is an extensive birdlife, not to mention the Large Split Face bats hanging above the trees.
Best Things to Buy in Pemba
#1 Wooden Arts and Crafts
#2 Artworks made with coconut fiber
#3 Traditional stoves and pots
Best Places to Eat in Pemba
#1 Kauri Resort
#2 Mar e Sol
#3 Pemba Dolphin
Typical Costs for a Trip to Pemba Mozambique
Campsites: 5-15 USD per person per night
Hostels and Guesthouses: 15-25 USD per person per night.
Double room in a standard hotel: 50-100 USD
Local meals: 2-5 USD
Restaurant meals: 5-10 USD
A taxi ride for 15 km: 7 USD
Public buses: 1-1.5 USD
Car rental: 100 USD per day
Safari Packages into Mozambique: 250 USD
Plan Your Trip to Mozambique
Money-Saving Tips in Pemba Mozambique
- Vendors at the local markets might inflate the prices of merchandise. With great negotiation skills, you might easily get an item up to 60% off the initial asking price.
- If you arrive by plane, try to book hotels with free airport shuttle services.
- Have a credit card that does not charge any service fees for point-of-sale transactions.
Staying Safe and Healthy in Pemba
Mozambique is unfortunately in a high-risk-malaria zone, so you need to include anti-malarial pills when you are preparing your packing list. Be sure to consult with your health care provider and get the necessary prophylactic medications.
As a general rule of thumb, you should only drink bottled water and drinks from trusted brands with proper packaging. In January 2015, a mass poisoning occurred due to contaminated beer, causing the death of over 67 people.
Mozambique is a relatively safe country, but remember to be aware and cognizant of your surroundings. Maputo is more touristy, so petty theft is more likely to happen. It is best to keep your valuations at home, avoid walking alone at night and practice due diligence.
Getting In and Around Pemba
Pemba has an international airport that has regular international flights from South Africa’s Johannesburg, Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam and Kenya’s Nairobi. Domestic flights are also available from Maputo, Pemba, and Nampula.
The road between Dar es Salaam and Pemba is partly tarred, while the one from Nampula is fully tarred. Public buses within the city usually depart as regular as every five minutes.
Mozambique is a country with vast territories. In order to maximize your trip and experience in this coastal country, you should endeavor to visit as many cities as possible. And if time permits, a visit to neighboring Zimbabwe, Eswatini, and Tanzania should be considered.
For other outstanding ideas on other cities to visit while you are in the area, read our post on Maputo and Beira is worth checking out. The entire coastline of Mozambique is a mystery that is waiting to be discovered by you.
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