Zanzibar is indescribably beautiful and the ultimate destination that combines fascinating history and magnificent beaches.
1) Flight: I was flying from Bahrain so the best option is Qatar airways, flying through Doha and directly to Zanzibar, whereas Emirates makes a stop at Dar Es Salam first.
2) Visa: For Bahraini and European nationalities, visa is upon arrival. The airport at Dar Es Salam is so basic and small with very limited technology that it took us almost 3 hours to get our visa. You need to be very patient! The visa cost is 50USD and you must have it in cash.
3) Vaccinations: Before going to Tanzania, you must do your vaccinations in order to enjoy the place to the fullest. The vaccinations that are required are: Hepatitis A, Yellow fever, Meningitis and you also have to take Malaria pills throughout your stay. The good thing about this is that most vaccinations last over 10 years.
There are plenty of nice accommodations and areas to choose from, it all depends what you are looking for. It's important to remember that Zanzibar's diverse coastline means different experiences across the island.
The north part of Zanzibar is more of a backpacker destination with a variety of accommodations choices. Nungwi offers a good nightlife and full moon parties. The heart of Northern Zanzibar’s tourist industry is Nungwi’s West-Coast Beach. This has become an increasingly vibrant tourist destination with numerous bars, restaurants and resorts of various ratings. The beach is a busy tourist hub. Some of Zanzibar’s wildest nightlife can be found here. However there are more reserved restaurants offering top quality seafood with views of the ocean.
“If Zanzibar Town is the archipelago's heart, Stone Town is its soul”.
Stone Town is an easy place to explore on foot; you never need to travel by vehicle. It’s a lively area with a lot to see and do, from palaces to mosques to old Arab houses. Take into consideration that Stone town is always lively and loud! Nevertheless no visit to Zanzibar would be complete without experiencing Stone Town.
There are plenty of beaches and resorts on the southeast of Zanzibar but it's here that the tidal range is more marked than other regions. So if you are looking to really enjoy the beach, then it is going to be difficult because of the tide you will not be able to swim all the time. The southeast is also a very quite area with less tourist and more opportunity to engage with the locals.
Most resorts located in the southeast are very secluded.
We chose to stay at the south east of the island in a beautiful resort. We spent good amount of time enjoying the place and the facilities but we also hired a driver for our entire stay who took us everywhere to experience the island to the fullest. We were looking for a combination of relaxing, comfort but also adventure and being exploration.
Baraza Resort & Spa
Baraza has been chosen by the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller Magazine as one of the top 60 best new hotels in the world. No wonder why! Every detail of this resort is magnificent, every corner, every fabric. This boutique resort is a fusion of Swahili and Arabic design with beautiful antique, hand made furniture.
The resort offers only 30 villas, therefore a very personalized service in a spectacular setting.
For more information about the prices and availability click on here.
Where to go
The Rock: It’s very small, quite simple but absolutely beautiful! A 10 minutes car drive from Page, an hour from Stone Town and 1 hour and a half from the north tip of the island. As they describe it on their website “Eating at Rock Restaurant is an experience you can’t miss: colors, relish and sensations blend together in unique magic”
Jambo: A nice local place for music, dancing and is located right by the beach in the south east of the island.
Stone Town: It may not have a particularly romantic name, but Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, and mosques and grand Arab houses. Stone Town is located on the western coast of Unguja the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago. We spent a day wandering around the streets, bargaining in the markets and just enjoying this buzzing place.
Watch the sunset at Sunset Bar on top of the Africa House.
Jozani National park: It is the only national park in Zanzibar. The forest is a great place to encounter many indigenous varieties of flora and fauna, including the Zanzibari Monkeys. The entrance fee of 8 dollars includes a guide who will show you around while explaining everything. I really enjoyed this experience, because it was different than just seeing the beautiful beaches and it also showed how much the island of Zanzibar has to offer.
Prison Island: the sea around prison island is truly stunning, turquoise water, white sand and coral reef. I was so annoyed that we didn’t bring our swim suites, and we didn’t come early morning. The name comes from the island being a former prison for slaves. Not only is it a very nice boat trip from stone town, but Prison Island is also home to giant land turtles that were imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century. Fun fact: these turtles can live up to 200 years!
Dolphin Swimming: you need to drive to the small village of Kizimkazi, which is almost 2 hours from Stone town. Then you take a speedboat and sail almost 30 min from the shore in search of the dolphins. When you see them you jump in the water. I personally didn’t enjoy this tour, but others did. I didn’t like the fact that there were almost 20 speedboats rushing to chase the dolphins. If you are lucky you will get the chance to swim with them. My advice is go very early morning, around 6:00 am. Prices are around 30 USD per person.
Spice Tour: This was my all time favorite tour. Zanzibar is known to be an important producer of spices such as nutmeg, cumin, and cinnamon. With a local guide you will have the opportunity to walk around a spice farm, smell and taste different spices. Your tour guide will describe everything and in the end you are able to buy the different spices, along with creams, oil perfumes and soaps. Some tours also offer tasty Swahili lunch. In my opinion this tour is a must do!
We only had 5 days in Zanzibar, which I think was a little short. I would say 1 week is perfect. This way you can take it more easy and explore every corner of the island.
Many people combine their Zanzibar trip with a safari tour in Tanzania.