Beautiful Zanzibar. Isn’t that what comes to mind when you think of Paradise? The white beaches, blue waters and green fauna of Zanzibar is what makes this archipelago travel fantasy fodder. It’s a popular honeymoon destination, but who wants to smooch in a hotel room when you could be busy exploring the sites?
1. Zanzibar beaches
That must be what you came here for right? There are 503 miles of picture perfect coastline with white sands and beautiful palm trees. You can enjoy a splash about in the waters, or you could go deeper and swim with dolphins on the Kizimkazi Dolphin Tour. There are also some huge fish to be had in Zanzibar’s waters and Uroa Village is the best place to do it.
2. Spice it up
Zanzibar is well-known as the ‘Spice Island’. Herbs and spices prosper in the rich and fertile ground and you can take a tour around the plantations. You’ll get to see how the spices are used in Ayurveda medicine and in cooking and sample some saps, spices and exotic fruits too. Zanzibar is also one of the rare places in the world where saffron is produced.
3. See monkeys in the wild
Chumbe Island Coral Park is a green paradise atop fossilised coral. Visit for the day and you’ll learn all about how the aims for preservation and education in the area are carried out. The peaceful sanctuary is the perfect place to snap some monkeys, butterflies, reptiles and birds for the folks back home.
If there just aren’t enough monkeys for you, visit the Jozani Forest and the Red Colobus monkeys will be swinging from the trees in their hundreds. Entry is $8 and you’ll also get to see the Mangrove Forest too.
4. Hang out in Stone Town
Zanzibar’s vibrant capital Stone Town is filled with quirky labyrinthine alleys. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so there are many beautiful important buildings here, including The House of Wonders and The Arab Fort. There’s also a huge market here with huge amounts of native fruit and interesting produce you’ve probably never seen before – a great place for some souvenirs.
5. Scuba dive in Kendwa
Not only has Kendwa in the east got a white beach and warm sea, it’s also the best place in Zanzibar for scuba diving. There are lots of beach bars and restaurants here serving a range of food and if you’re around for a Full Moon, this is where the party’s at. Before you leave for home try to haggle a go in one of the locals’ carved wooden boats – known as a dhow.
6. Visit the Slave Market
Of course, it’s the Old Slave Market silly. You can see the holding chambers and check out where the poor souls used to live in dungeon-like conditions. Entry costs $3.
7. Drink cocktails
Zanzibar is a Muslim country, but there are still bars when you know where to look. Make sure you enjoy the ginger beer – tangawizi – and visit the Africa House Sunset Bar at sunset for a cocktail overlooking the ocean. Get there early to guarantee a seat. There are also many bars along the beaches who will be very happy to serve you good local beers and cocktails.
8. Go Kiteboarding
Paje, the small village on the east coast, is well-known for its top kiteboarding weather conditions. Head over to the Zanzibar Kitesurfing School where you can get a three-hour lesson for €110 with all the instruction you’ll need to get you started.
9. Eat at Forodhani Gardens
Cheap, local food is the order of the day at this food and arts market. From crab claws to locally made sugar cane juice to crazy treats for your beloved at home you’ll get in here, but make sure to bargain them down – it’s the way they do business. It’s a night market so the twilight surroundings are hard to beat.
10. Enjoy a sunset dinner
236 Hurumzi is one of the more expensive restaurants on the island, but you’re your delicious meal will be enjoyed on the rooftop – go at sunset to experience the call to prayer with Zanzibar’s skyline laid out in front of you. Eat dinner on the wharf and you’ll get a fresh, locally sourced feast for just a few dollars. Scoff it to the sweet melodies of local music.
You could also try The Dhow Restaurant – a handcrafted boat anchored opposite the old Sultan’s palace, the House of Wonders, and Forodhani Gardens. I’d go for the grilled lobster. Did you know Freddie Mercury was born here? There’s a restaurant named after him on the beach front, but by all accounts; it’s not actually that good.
SHOW RESPECT: As always when you travel make sure you respect the local traditions, both men and women should cover their legs and arms when possible and don’t go snogging down the alleys, or in the restaurants for that matter. If it’s Ramadan take extra care when eating and drinking, and talking about eating and drinking too.