Zanzibar has so many special treats to offer visitors, it is much more than just a tropical island fringed with white sandy beaches. But what are the best things to do? Here’s a quick guide on how to get the most out of your time on Zanzibar.
- Get Shown Around
Taking a tour is the best way to experience some of the most wonderful aspects of Zanzibar. Go snorkelling and enjoy a sumptuous lunch of seafood and exotic fruits with Safari Blue. A spice tour is a firm favourite and a ‘must-do’ for any visitor to Zanzibar. There are stand up paddle tours through the mangroves or you could hire a bicycle and pootle around the island, it is only 85 km long and 39 km wide!
- Wander the Streets
The old quarter of Stone Town is a maze of narrow streets where you can wander for many hours, browsing the stores and observing Zanzibari life. The UNESCO World Heritage site has many boutiques, art galleries, and souvenir shops, just be careful of mopeds and bicycles coming through! If you are lucky you might stumble upon a unique store such as the lovely wood carving shop. Here you can pick a piece of furniture from the reclaimed wood pile and have it carved to order. Nice.
- Live Like a Millionaire For a Day
Want to experience your own private island? Head out on a boat from Stone Town to the sandspit of Nakupenda for a great afternoon of snorkelling and chilling. It is a stretch of beach that is only exposed during the low tide and is perfect for an exclusive hangout. You are treated to a lovely lunch of rice and seafood, with fruit and soft drinks thrown in. Bring some of the local spirit ‘Konyagi’ and you can make some nice cocktails too.
- Bust Out a Tune
The Crazy Monday Jam sessions at Red Monkey Lodge have become pretty legendary. If you are musically talented head on over and play a tune with a bunch of random people. If you are not, then go and be melodically entertained. You can often catch some good local and international acts so do check their events page.
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- Race Across the Ocean
Want to try a new sport? Kitesurfing is very popular in the small towns of Paje and Jambiani on the east of the island. The shallow lagoon and offshore breezes offer a perfect set of conditions to give this activity a whirl. The water is so warm you won’t need a wetsuit and there are plenty of places in Paje to relax after a hard day cruising the waves. Try Lucky Kite school in Jambiani or Airborne in Paje.
- Shake That Thing
There ain’t no party like an Indian Ocean island full moon beach party and the Kendwa Rocks Beach Hotel certainly provides that. The night kicks off with an impressive acrobatic display from a local dance group and a banging barbecue buffet. Then the DJ kicks in and gets everyone moving with a mix of R’n’B and Afro-beats. You can shake your thing inside or out on the beach, which is a great place to hang out and make new friends. Before you know it the sun has risen, time certainly does fly when you are having fun.
- Take the Time to Relax
Zanzibar is the perfect place to unwind and ease away any tension with a massage. The best place is Mrembo Spa in Stone Town, where they infuse the island’s different herbs and spices into their oils, giving a wonderful aroma to their treatments. If you wish you can take some of the products home with you or even create your own oils and scrubs in one of their workshops. Either way, you will leave feeling much better than you arrived!
- Eat Your Way Around the Island
There are plenty of food stops to explore in Stone Town, from markets to local lunch cafes and sophisticated restaurants. Outside of the capital, the choices are much more limited and usually means either a plate of rice and seafood from a local beachside joint or a more sophisticated affair in one of the tourist accommodations.
Do head out for a Sunday brunch at hip hotel Upendo, where you can feast on a variety of top-notch dishes.
Don’t miss The Rock for sundowners in one of the world’s most unique restaurants due to its location, perched on a stony outcrop and surrounded by brilliant blue waters. Defo one for the ‘gram.
Zanzibar is even better when you time your visit with one of these festivals:
Sauti za Busara Music Festival – February
Zanzibar Beach and Watersports Festival – September
Be warned, do make sure you schedule in enough time on this jewel in the ocean as the culture and beauty of Zanzibar may just steal your heart.