The spice island
Zanzibar is an archipelago consisting of two main islands of Unguja (commonly referred to as Zanzibar Island) and Pemba. Zanzibar is a tropical island, which many people like to visit after a great safari on the mainland of Tanzania. Its many beaches with palm trees and the historical Stone Town make Zanzibar a must-see if you visit Tanzania.
The name Zanzibar is derived from a combination of two Arabic words, “Zenj”, meaning “black”, and “bar”, being the Arabic word for “island”, resulting in the ancient title “Land of the Black”. Pemba is the second largest island of the Archipelago, named Al-khudra, “The Green Island” by the Arabic mariners. It is famous for its clove production and its channels offer some of the best diving experiences in East Africa.
Activities in Zanzibar
Explore Stone Town
Stone Town is a World Heritage site and is the most atmospheric and vibrant of all the remaining traditional Swahili settlements. Architecturally it’s a fusion of African and Arab influences not dissimilar to the medinas of Morocco with its narrow streets, twists, and turns. Culturally, modern Stone Town is a lively melting pot that embraces visitors and manages to offer a selection of fine dining and curious attractions without compromising its old-world charm.
Consider staying for one or two nights depending on your preferences, and enjoy the comforts of one of the many pleasant hotels.
Snorkeling in crystal-clear waters
There are excursions for full-day sailing around the mangroves and snorkeling along some of the best coral reefs Zanzibar. The snorkeling around the world-famous Mnemba Island is amazing. These are followed by the best seafood barbecue you will ever have and an exotic fruit-tasting session. Suitable for beginners and more experienced snorkelers alike, this activity should be on everyone’s ‘must do’ list. This trip departs from Fumba in the southwest.
If you would prefer a less structured day then head to Matemwe.
There are many excellent dive sites around Zanzibar and even near Stone Town. Most divers, however, come for Mnemba Island, an atoll just off the north-east coast near Matemwe. Diving at Mnemba Atoll is stunning. On the inside, it’s like being in a giant aquarium, and the outside offers excellent wall and drift dives. The island itself is a breeding ground for turtles and they are often seen gliding by along with dolphins, huge schools of fish, whale sharks, and humpbacks when in season.
Local Spice Tour
For those interested in culture and history, no trip to Zanzibar would be complete without a tour of a traditional spice farm. Over the years Zanzibar has been one of the largest exporters of cloves and other spices and has been used as a welcome stop-over for the many merchants exploiting the trade winds en route to India. Become familiar with how the different spices are grown and prepared, not forgetting to take some to cook with back home.
Zanzibar offers a unique opportunity to track and swim with one of the ocean’s most captivating creatures. This is a truly magical experience that will stay with you forever. Each morning the local pod of dolphins stir from their overnight spot in Menai Bay and prepare themselves for the day ahead. Playing with tourists is just part of their morning routine.
Surfing on the Indian Ocean waves
Kite-surfing has been a growing sport for some time and is now becoming more popular in Zanzibar. The kite-surfing centers are located in the north at Nungwi and on the east near Paje and at Matemwe.