Enjoy Zanzibar’s relaxed pace of life as you explore this tropical island which is ringed by some of Africa’s best coral beaches.
Also known as Unguja, Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience.
For a relaxing beach getaway, head north to Nungwi and Kendwa which are flanked by long picturesque beaches. It is easy to forget your worries the moment you sink your toes into the sand and soak up the sunshine. There are a host of budget and luxury accommodation, as well as restaurants, bars and dance parties – making it the hub for tourist activity.
For a bit of culture, head to the island’s center and explore its Stone Town which boasts a quasi-medieval medina, balconied merchants houses and the grand House of Wonders.
One of the most prominent buildings in the old Stone Town is the elegant Beit el-Ajaib, now home to the Zanzibar National Museum of History & Culture. Inside it houses exhibits on the dhow culture, Swahili civilization and 19th-century Zanzibar. Everything is informatively labelled in English and Swahili, and well worth visiting.
Feel free to drive out of town through the avenue of mango trees which are said to be planted over the bodies of past lovers of a 19th-century sultan’s daughter.
Folktales aside, there is plenty to keep you occupied here.
Make sure you wear comfy shoes as you explore its heritage sites including the Anglican Cathedral. This was the first Anglican cathedral in East Africa. It was built on the site of the old slave market, the altar reputedly marking the spot of the whipping tree where slaves were lashed with a stinging branch. It’s a moving sight, remembered by a white marble circle surrounded by red to symbolise the blood of the slaves.
Be sure to explore the primeval Jozani Forest which is home to the rare, red colobus monkey and tiny aders’ duiker. There’s a nature trail in the forest, which you can follow with an information sheet. It takes about 45 minutes to complete on foot and includes walking on a boardwalk that extends deep into a creek and wild mangroves.
Make sure you have your camera ready when you go to see pods of dolphin play, and shoals of luminous fish graze over Chumbe Island’s pristine coral garden. The island is teeming with activity – including its east rural villages which snake up the coastline. Top places to visit include community-minded, Jambiani, as well as Paje which is the surf-and-party hub. For a bit of culture, head to traditional Matemwe to see locals harvest seaweed and dhows set sail.