Zanzibar is a Tanzanian archipelago situated in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. It consists of many small islands and two large ones: the main island, Unguja, and Pemba. With miles upon miles of white sandy beaches and vast coral reefs, it’s no wonder Zanzibar is referred to as an island paradise. The consistently warm climate, the pristine, clean beaches and the crystal clear waters make Zanzibar ideal for those wanting to surf, sunbathe or swim all year round.
The capital, Zanzibar City, is located on the island of Unguja and is home to Stone Town, which is a historic trade centre and a World Heritage Site. The islands have a unique cultural mix, with African, Arabic, Indian, Persian and European influences making them rich in history and vibrant in culture. The many museums and galleries will allow you to delve into the fascinating past of this 20 000 year old society. For centuries past Zanzibar’s main industry has been in spices, famed for its cardamom, clove and cinnamon. Spice tours are a major attraction in this land of sultans and prince of the past.
This tropical island paradise is the most populous and famous of the Zanzibar islands. It is home to the historical Stone Town, which is the main port and commercial centre of Zanzibar and is where many cultural events and festivals are held. Unguja is very easy to reach, with many international flight companies flying to the Zanzibar Airport near Stone Town. The beautiful beaches along with their surrounding coral reefs are a major attraction for this island. There are many different options for beach destinations, from which each person can select their most preferable choice. The following beaches are the most commonly visited.
Situated at the northern tip of the island, this beach is blessed with calm waters and soft sandy shores. Water sports are enjoyed here and a number of bars and clubs give this location an enjoyable party atmosphere.
This beach is within walking distance from Nungwi but has a more laid back atmosphere than the latter mentioned. It is therefore perfect for those wanting unwind and relax.
This is one of the more popular beaches, always bustling with travellers and with a wide selection of bungalows, restaurants and beach bars. It is the perfect spot for those interested in water sports such as windsurfing, kite surfing and scuba diving.
A more secluded beach town, this spot is ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world and enjoy the natural beauty Zanzibar has to offer. It is a seaweed fishing town with tall swaying palm trees and calm beaches, perfect for an escape into the peace and quiet.
Some of Zanzibar’s most luxurious hotels occupy spots near this beach. It is the ideal location for those looking to enjoy the exclusive peace and tranquillity the island has to offer.
Also known as Mji Mkongwe, this is the oldest and main city of Zanzibar. Once the centre of the spice trade, as well as the slave trade, Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance. The town was declared a World Heritage Site and has architecture dating back to the 19th century with influences from Arab, Persian, Indian, African and European elements. The use of coral stone as the main material for construction of the town buildings is what gives the town the name of “Stone Town”. Due its heritage, it is one of the most well-known attractions in Zanzibar.
Wondering through the town’s narrow alleys that are clustered with shops, houses and mosques you will be amazed by the interesting architectural features, endless food markets and friendly locals. The town is also punctuated with major historical buildings, including the palaces of sultans and other institutional buildings such as the Old Fort of Zanzibar, House of Wonders and the Hamamni Persian Baths.
Pemba Island, also known as The Green Island in Arabic, is 40 km north of the main island of Zanzibar, Unguja. Its secluded hilly landscape is green and picturesque and generously dotted with Pemba’s main exports: hundreds of giant clove trees and many varying types of succulent mangoes. However, it is most famous for the fine coral reefs that surround the entire perimeter of the island. The shores of Pemba Island are one of the top diving and snorkelling locations off of the coast of Tanzania, and are even considered as one of the best dive locations in the world. It is well known for large sea fish including barracuda, tuna, shark and whale.
Experienced divers frequent this island mostly during the dry seasons of July through to the end of October. The two lodges that are available are The Manta and Fundu Lagoon. The first of the two is a basic and remote hotel that offers a unique and authentic experience into the lives of the Swahili locals. The later of the two offers luxurious tented rooms that are dotted along the hillside of the beach, as well as regular boat rides that travel to the lovely beaches of a nearby island called Misali.
Zanzibar Butterfly Centre
The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre is located about 1km before the Jozani Forest and is one of the largest butterfly enclosures in East Africa. The lush gardens of this sanctuary provide the opportunity to witness hundreds of native butterflies in their natural habitat. This incredible site uses its profits to support local conservation and community projects.