Zanzibar - Beach Holiday

About Zanzibar

Zanzibar, an archipelago of many small islands, is a semi-autonomous area of Tanzania lying some 25 miles of the coast of the Indian Ocean. The two main islands are PEMBA Island, to the north, and the larger southerly UNGUJA Island, or Zanzibar as it’s widely known. Around two thirds of the 1.3m population live here, with most settled in the densely populated west. 

Outside of a handful of main towns, most people live in small villages – trading, subsistence farming, or living off the sea.The reefs are rich in marine biodiversity, making them ideal for snorkeling and diving and with miles of beaches of the softest white sands, fringed with coconut palms, it is a classic tropical paradise.

Activities in Zanzibar

Take a Walking Tour of Stone Town

One of the best things to do in Zanzibar, in order to get a true understanding of the island, is to take a walking tour. Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been to in my entire life. Seriously.

Whilst I’d say that taking a tour isn’t necessary and it’s absolutely fine to have a wander on your own, having a guide for a few hours will provide a great insight into the island.


Village Tour

Whilst it’s fine to visit a lot of villages on the island, going on an organized village tour with a guide is a good way to get an insight into daily life whilst contributing to the local economy. Jambiani on the east coast is a great village to visit and the people very welcoming. You can visit the fishermen, local women’s groups, herbalist and seaweed farms. Many tours, like this one, include a traditional Swahili lunch too.

Village Tour
Village Tour1

Go on Safari Blue

Safari Blue is known to be Zanzibar’s best boat trip!

You start in the small village of Fumba on the south coast, sailing on a traditional dhow to Menai Bay where dolphins you have the chance to see and swim with dolphins. Snorkelling is the order of the day and you have chance to explore the reefs. Lunch is a seafood buffet that includes fresh lobster, fish, calamari, chicken and veggie options served on a sandbank. Drinks are also included!

It’s a full day trip, so in the afternoon you sail to Kwale Island take a ride on a Ngalawa canoe, explore the mangroves, see an ancient baobab tree and relax on the beach before sailing back to Zanzibar at sunset

Safari Blue
Safari Blue1

Spice Tour

Zanzibar is called ‘The Spice Island’ due to the spices grown on the island. You’ll get to taste things like vanilla, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon as well as many others, used for cooking or in traditional medicines. Your guide will explain what the spices are used for and their unique properties.

Pretty much every hotel or tour agent offers these trips. They can be a little touristy and before you know it you’ll be stood there wearing a palm leaf hat, that some dude made for you and then plonked on your head.

Spice Tour
Spice Tour1

Jozani Forest

Jozani Forest, is home to the rare red colobus monkey. As you walk through the forest, you’ll get the chance to see the monkeys up close and learn about the various plants and animals that call this place home.

Jozani Forest
Jozani Forest1

Sunset Dhow Cruise

What better way to see the sunset from out on the water? There are various different ones, from romantic cruises to crazy party boats most include drinks and some also include food. Most of the sunset cruises depart from the main towns on the West of the island, like this 3-hour sunset cruise departing from Kendwa. You can also take cruises from Nungwi and Stone Town.

If you’re on the east coast – don’t worry, you can still enjoy the sunset too. My absolute favourite sunset cruise on the island is the Free Spirit dhow which sets sail from Michamvi and takes you around Chwaka Bay (the only place on the east for sunset).

Dhow Cruise
Dhow Cruise1

Scuba or Snorkel at the Mnemba Atoll

unforgettable snorkeling experience!

The snorkeling excursion involves a boat trip to Mnemba Atoll from Matemwe or Tumbatu Island from Nungwi, the best snorkeling spots in Zanzibar! You will enjoy two 45 minute long snorkeling sessions at different sites. In between your snorkel stops you will have a 45  minute break with snacks and tea. Following your last stop, the boat will return to the dive center.

Snorkel 1

Visit Prison Island (Changuu)

Changuu (Prison Island) is a former slave prison, just off the coast of Stone Town. Today it is home to giant Aldabra tortoise’s, imported from the Seyshelles. You can feed the tortoises, enjoy the forest, sunbathe on the white sandy beach and get a great view of Stone Town. Surrounding the island is a coral reef, good for snorkelling and the water is dotted with colourful starfish.

Prison Island
Prison Island 1

Relax on the Beaches

After all these activities,  there’s only one thing left for you to do and that’s to unwind at the beaches, perhaps with a cold Kilimanjaro beer in hand. Zanzibar has some world-class beaches all over the island, so wherever you go, you’re sure to love it!

Kendwa: Kendwa Rocks Full Moon Party, backpacker-friendly destination, lots of activities on offer, great for solo travellers, beautiful sunsets, calm water. Very chilled in the daytime. Apart from Kendwa Rocks, I love Zuri Zanzibar, it’s beautiful.

Nungwi: Nearby and similar to Kendwa, but slightly busier (there’s a big village here) and more all-inclusive type resorts, lots of travellers and things going on. I recommend either Makofi Guesthouse or the Z Hotel.

Matemwe: Very chilled, village life, unspoiled by tourism, close to Mnemba Atoll. Try one of these highly recommended hotels.

Michamvi: The only place for sunset in eastern Zanzibar, looks out over a beautiful bay, quieter than the other resorts. Stay at Upendo Zanzibar for a sophisticated stay and great views of the Rock Restaurant (no sunset on this side of the peninsular) or on the other side (with sunset), try Kae Funk for a chilled-out vibe, or Michamvi Sunset Bay.

Pongwe: Pretty beach resort, not as crowded as the others, very chilled. Try The Island – Pongwe Lodge, a very cool hotel set on a little island off the coast. Or for some real luxury, the Tulia Zanzibar Unique Beach Resort.

Bwejuu: Village life, gorgeous beach, quiet – but close to the likes of Paje and Jambiani for the nightlife. Stay at Tsunami Village (nice place, unfortunate name)!

Paje: Beautiful beach, kitesurfing, backpacker-friendly, great nightlife, great for solo travellers – although for obvious reasons it can be windy and sometimes there’s a lot of seaweed on the beach. My favourite hostels and hotels are Drifters, Ebb & Flow Apartments, the Mr Kahawa (formerly The Waterfront) and the beautiful Kahawa Lofts.

Jambiani: Similar to Paje, beautiful beach (in the picture above), great village, Monday night jam session, watersports, nightlife. To be in the action, stay at Red Monkey Lodge.