Zanzibar is the semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.
Portuguese invasion and control of the Swahili Coast in the late 16th century ended the golden age of the archipelago, although the Omani Arabs returned to power less than a century later. Today, many of the winding streets and high townhouses of old Stone Town remain unchanged and visitors can walk between the sultan’s palace, the House of Wonders, the Portuguese fort and gardens, the merchants’ houses, and the Turkish baths of the old city. Day-long spice tours to working plantations offer visitors the chance to observe the cultivation of cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that have made the island famous.
Holiday dreams on the coast
Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world, but sand and surf vary depending on what side of the island you’re on. On the east coast, waves break over coral reefs and sand bars offshore, and low tide reveals small pools of starfish, small minnows, and anemones. Up north, ocean swimming is much less susceptible to the tides, and smooth beaches and white sand make for dazzling days in the sun.
The port city of Stone Town dominates the west coast, and although the beaches of Mangapwani, where slave caves are visible at low tide and nearby Bububu are less than half an hour’s drive away, a night or two spent on the east or north cost is well worth the extra hour it takes to drive there. That said, the Chole Island Marine Park just off Stone Town – and nearby Prison, Grave, and Snake Islands – make a refreshing day-trip and a good break from exploring the winding passageways of the old city.
On the south coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection area for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the southeast coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primate and small antelope species.
Relaxation on the beach
Located off the coast of Tanzania, Paje is situated on the island of Zanzibar, which can be summed up as Indian Ocean amazement.
Situated on the east coast of this fabulous island, Paje is essentially a huge, long strip of white sand bordered by a small village on one side and a collection of beachfront accommodation services and eateries, as well as turquoise waters on the other.
Paje is delightfully peaceful and quiet because many tourists prefer the busier more developed north beaches of Zanzibar.
THINGS TO DO:
• reef walking
• safari blue tour
• visiting rock restaurant
On Zanzibar Island’s northern tip, the village of Nungwi is known for sunset cruises. The quiet village of Kendwa and the uniquely wide beaches with it’s understated resorts continue to offer a more laid back vibes. But once a month, Kendwa pumps up the volume each full moon with a lively an legendary beach parties and remains one of Zanzibar’s favorite attractions.
Although luxury hotels are now available, Nungwi and especially Kendwa remain two of the best destinations on Zanzibar Island for affordable but quality accommodations. But Kendwa offers better beaches and the deeper waters on the north-western strip allow swimming throughout the day.
Prison Island and spices
Stone town is a sensory experience not to be found anywhere else in the world that offers a unique look into the melting pot of cultures.
Darajani Market is the local market with its authentic noises and colors. It is also the place where you can find all kinds of spices.
Prison Island was once used for detention of rebellious slaves and people with deadly diseases. It is now a tourist attraction with its giant tortoises. They’re not only ginormous but also as old as 192 years!
Your visit to Zanzibar is not complete without experiencing the Forodhani Gardens night market. You will find all kind of varieties of food.
Diving and Snorkeling
The Matemwe Area is popular with its private luxury resorts promising a relaxing stay as the nearby village life subsides and turns it into an attractively sleepy and quite place. Here you can disconnect from outside world and spend a few days pampering yourself.
Zanzibar is excellent for its diving and snorkeling. The Mnemba Atoll is one of the favorites amongst underwater lovers and is home to a wide variety of fishes and colorful corals. Snorkel across shores of Mnemba Island and enjoy the stunning underwater life. There is also a chance of spotting dolphins as they are frequent guests in local waters.