All men are created equal. All Islands are not.
The best kept secrets are the ones we keep to ourselves and Zanzibar is no different. Located off the coast of mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar Island is where white sandy beaches and protected coral reefs are indistinguishable, pleasant “Karibu’s” (welcome in Swahili) and gentle smiles are interchangeable and the delicious local spices are undeniable. It’s relatively easy to fall in love with Zanzibar at first sight.
Location: Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa
International Airport: ZNZ
Time Zone: East Africa Time Zone UTC+03:00
Currency: Tanzanian Shillings (TZS)
Language: Swahili and English
Visa: Visa Required
Vaccinations: Yellow Fever vaccination mandatory. Refer to the CDC website for additional vaccines required.
Weather: Generally, the rainy months (with longer periods of rain) are March to May with afternoon downpours. The dry season lasts from June to October. During November to December, Zanzibar experiences a “short” rain season with lighter rainfall. But of course, the weather everywhere is unpredictable.
Preferred Accommodation: Zanzi Resort
With a plethora of activities to choose from, here are the top highlights that must be included for all visitors. Follow the journey below and, as the locals say, Karibu!
Safari Blue is guaranteed to be one of your best days out in Zanzibar, period! Sail, snorkel, swim, feast, play and meet new friends are all a part of this full day adventure. The day begins with a scenic Dhow cruise along Menai Bay where you’ll enjoy the beautiful, rugged scenery, snorkel and leisurely wonder along isolated sandbanks with easy access to Zanzibar’s turquoise water. Once on Kwale Island, enjoy a seafood feast and ample time to sunbathe under Zanzibar’s bright skies.
Prison Island is one of Zanzibar’s most frequented sites. Earning its name as the former prison for slaves, Prison Island is now dedicated to endangered Aldabra Tortoises, aging up to 180 years old. The day begins with a 20 minute Dhow cruise from Stone Town. Shortly after arrival, you’ll tour the historic grounds and spend time petting and feeding the tortoises. After exploring the grounds of the prison, you then have the option to snorkel in the crystal clear waters of Zanzibar or go for a swim and relax on the white sand beach surrounding the island.
With many buildings and ports reflecting the urban flair of East Africa, Stone Town is a melting pot of various elements from the African, Arabic, Indian and European culture. Winding alleys, bustling bazaars, and children playing in rain puddles, while mothers gossip and fathers laugh over board games, is living proof that Stone Town is not just a destination, but a real community where people live, work, and play.
While in Stone Town, pay a visit to the Slave Chambers and explore the numerous street markets in the surrounding area.
Stone Town comes to life at night at the Forodhani Night Food Market where both locals and travelers alike come together to sample some authentic Zanzibar delicacies by local chefs.
SUNSET DHOW CRUISE
One of the best ways to take in Zanzibar’s amazing sunsets is from the top of a Dhow cruise. The Sunset Dhow Cruise departs from Stone Town during the late afternoon and cruises along the coast, gently sailing to the rhythm of the rippling turquoise water. You’ll be able to enjoy a variety of local eats with a generous pour of wine, beer, and soda. The changing colors of the sky and shiny lights of Stone Town in the backdrop is the perfect way to start the night.
THE ROCK RESTAURANT
Noted as one of the most iconic landmarks in Zanzibar, The Rock Restaurant is a classic example of simplified beauty. Its unique location, positioned on a rock in the middle of the Indian Ocean, creates an experience not to be missed! The Rock offers a combination of Italian, seafood and local dishes with a view of Michanwi Pingwe beach in the backdrop. Seating is limited – be sure to book in advance.
Kendwa Rocks is a hidden gem located about 1 hour from Stone Town. This is the perfect place to reflect on your journey through Zanzibar and be lazy in a civilized manner. The beach is STUNNING!
Here is a sample trip itinerary that can be booked through Easy Travel & Tours or Palm Tours (I have personally used both):
Day 1: Arrive in Zanzibar and settle into your hotel. Use the afternoon to explore Stone Town, set sail on a sunset Dhow cruise, followed by sampling some local treats at the night market in Forodhani Gardens.
Day 2: Safari Blue!
Day 3: Begin your journey to Prison Island followed by lunch at the Rock Restaurant.
Day 4: Venture off and spend the day at Kendwa Rocks.
Zanzibar is sure to arouse all senses and activate many emotions. These new memories will bring about that knowing grin and sparkle in your eyes. Experience Zanzibar!