For most of the islands near Stone Town it is easy to find a boat pilot. Many pilots can be found lingering around the Big Tree down by the harhour. Prices vary depending on the island and the number of people in the boat. Obviously, the more passengers on board the lower the cost per person. Tour agencies can also arrange boat trips as wells as most of the better hotels in town.Prison Island (Changuu)
is the most popular island for people seeking an island excursion from Stone Town. It is a short boat ride (about 10 minutes) and the snorkeling is excellent. There's a small beach that can get quite crowded at high tide but there are other things to do. There's a small trail that circles the island and goes past ruins. Look for the old prison and watch out for giant tortoises and peacocks in the ruins' courtyard. You'll also pass ruins of an old laundry center, a natural lagoon that can be quite beautiful if the tide is right, and the old quarantine housing. A wealthy slave owner who sent unruly slaves there for discipline first owned the island. After the abolition of slavery the island was inhabited by a British General and was later used as a quarantine station. There was a prison built on the island after the General had left but it was never used for its intended purpose, instead housing quarantined visitors to Zanzibar. There's a restaurant in the large house (formerly the General's) and there is a smaller building that serves as a guesthouse. There's a small fee to go on the island, and mask, fins and snorkel are available for rent in the same office. The snorkeling is surely worth the trip. One of the island's main attractions are the large land tortoises that roam around the big house. They aren't dangerous but could take your hand off at the wrist in one bite so don't aggravate them. Peacocks are also inhabitants of the island but sadly, some of them have had their long feathers plucked by uncaring people who won't look nearly so good in them.Snake Island (Nyoka)
doesn't have a beach so is not frequently visited. There are no known trails on this small island that is between Prison and Grave Islands.Grave Island (Chapwani)
is a long and thin island just to the north of Snake Island; it has graves on it primarily belonging to the British who suffered casualties while fighting against Arab slaving ships. There are other graves dating from the First World War. It's a short boat ride from town. There's a nice beach but the island is not great for swimming. The guesthouse and the restaurant on the island are closed so bring your own food and drinks.