Prison Island,also known as Changuu Island, is just off the coast of Stone Town, Zanzibar.
The island was used as a prison for rebellious slaves in 1860s and also functioned as a coral mine.
Lloyd Mathews, The British First Minister of Zanzibar,purchased the island in 1893 and constructed a prison complex there. No prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever cases. The station was only occupied for around half of the year and the rest of the time it was a popular holiday destination. More recently, the island has become a government-owned tourist resort and houses a collection of endangered Aldabra giant tortoises which were originally a gift from the British governor of the Seychelles.
Now a tourist attraction, and houses a collection of endangered Aldabra giant tortoises which were originally a gift from the British governor of the Seychelles.The Island as seen from the Indian Ocean Contents 1 History 2 Giant tortoises 3 Changuu today 4 References 5 Bibliography History Changuu is named after the Swahili name of a fish which is common in the seas around it, though it is shown as “Kibandiko Island” on some older maps, but this name is no longer used. The island was uninhabited until the 1860s when the first Sultan of Zanzibar, Majid bin Said, gave it to two Arabs who used it as a prison for rebellious slaves prior to shipping them abroad or selling them at the slave market in Zanzibar’s Stone Town.
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 island lost its use as a quarantine station, but remained in the ownership of the government who converted the newer quarantine buildings into a guesthouse.This ceased to function but has since been reopened as a hotel by a private company. There are 15 holiday cottages in the northwest of the island as well as a tennis court, swimming pool and library and the old European Bungalow has been turned into a restaurant named after Mathews. Freshwater is transported to the island via an underwater pipe from the Zanzibar mainland.
The island is still owned by the government, which charges a US$4 entry fee.The old prison remains standing, providing shelter for some of the tortoises and the cells can be visited.