The islands are of volcanic origin and are surrounded by coral reefs, and the more energetic travellers can scramble to the top of Mount Karthala, an active volcano on Ngazidja, or enjoy a vast range of watersports.
Things to see and do
Climb Mount Karthala
The more energetic can climb to the top of Mount Karthala and then descend into the crater of this active volcano. The crater is claimed to be the largest still active anywhere in the world. It is usual to make one overnight stop at the shelter provided.
There is excellent diving in the archipelago. The Trou du Prophète in Misamiouli on Ngazidja, Niumashuwa Bay on Mwali and Pamanzi islet off Mahore are particularly fine.
Hike to Dziani Boundouni
Dziani Boundouni is a sulphurous crater lake at the centre of the sparsely populated island of Mwali (Mohéli), which can be reached on day-walks from its capital, Fomboni. Owing to political instability, visitors are advised to check the latest travel advice before contemplating a trip to Mohéli.
Hit the beach
There are many excellent beaches on all the islands and Galawa Beach on Grande Comore has a diving school. Other good beaches include Bouni, Chomoni (near a sheltered bay), Itsandra and the palm-fringed Planet Plage. Pirogue (canoe) races are occasionally staged in the lagoon that surrounds Mahore. Sailing boats and canoes are available for hire in many ports.
This fishing village, 6km (4 miles) from Moroni, has a lovely beach, and there are opportunities to see dances performed by the local men. The town was once the ancient capital of the island, complete with royal tombs and a fortress.
This French-administered island is surrounded by a coral reef and has good beaches and excellent scuba-diving facilities. Tourists may explore the lagoon (claimed to be the largest in the world) by dugout canoe. The town of Dzaoudzi contains some old fortifications worthy of a visit; Pamanzi is a forested islet, 5km (3 miles) offshore, fragrant with a wealth of vegetation; at Sulu a waterfall plunges straight into the sea, and find the remains of an old mosque at Tsingoni.
Meet the wildlife
The Comoros islands' distinctive (and protected) green turtle can be seen in the marine reserve off Mohéli's southern coast. Trips by motorised pirogues (canoes) can be arranged with local fishermen from Niumashuwa. Giant turtles may be seen at Niumashuwa Bay.
A town in the north of the island, Mitsamiouli is known both for its good diving facilities and for having the best Comoran dancers.
The capital Moroni on Ngazidja (Grande Comore) is a charming, peaceful town containing a few broad squares and modern government buildings, as well as old, narrow, winding streets and a market place. There are numerous fine mosques including the Vendredi Mosque, from the top of which there is an attractive view.
the smallest of the main islands, travellers can see dhows (Arab sail boats) being built on the beach at Fomboni.
Nzwani is notable for its waterfalls and abundant vegetation. The main town of Mutsamudu is built in Swahili-Shirazi style, complete with 17th-century houses with carved doors, twisting alleyways, mosques and a citadel. The ancient capital of Domoni is also worth a visit. The best beaches are in the Bimbini area. There are perfume distilleries at Bambao.