Zanzibar, Tanzania† A special island with a special history. Born on the east coast of Africa but grown by Arabic hands. It was once the Sultan of Oman which allowed Zanzibar and its capital of the same name to blossom into a pearl with beautiful beaches where the blue-green waters of the Indian Ocean lapping at ease. With African roots, you can feel the Arabian wind blowing everywhere on the island. In Stone Town, the historic center, the muezzin still calls to prayer while colorful mosaics, fairytale mosques and striking round towers stare at you friendly. Zanzibar is a small paradise with a special story due to its mix of cultures and radiant white beaches.
Also read: 24 Must Sees in Africa | The most beautiful places for your bucket list
Table of contents
Zanzibar, also called Unguja, is actually a quirky place in the great Tanzania. For example, not too long ago it was an independent state in the Republic of Tanzania† And the island still has a large degree of self-government. Together with the islands of Pemba and Mafia (no joke!) Zanzibar forms the Spice Islands. The most famous resident of Zanzibar is undoubtedly Freddie Mercury, the late singer of rock band Queen.
The Two Faces of Stone Town
Once you have arrived on the island, you will probably first take a look at the capital Zanzibar. Then make the effort to stroll around for a few hours in the old town of Stone Town. The Arabian and Mediterranean atmosphere takes you back in time for a while. There is a good chance that you will occasionally get lost through the labyrinth of streets and maze of side roads. Doesn't matter at all! So you just end up in nice streets with funny souvenir shops, alleys with oriental rugs on the walls and cozy terraces. The winding paths take you past mosques and overcrowded markets. Don't feel like walking? Then take the dala dala, taxis in the form of minibuses, which will take you everywhere for a few euros.
The nice thing about Stone Town is that the locals are not too pushy. Of course they hope you buy souvenirs, but they don't drag you into their store by your arm. In the evening you can go to the harbor for a delicious bite to eat. Cooks set up their tables and grill freshly caught fish on bbq's. The lounge terrace of the African House is especially recommended.
Unfortunately, Stone Town also has another raw side. Streets with garbage everywhere, desolate houses, leftover food, mud and filth. Begging children and dingy backstreets: that too is part of Zanzibar. The history of Stone Town also has its raw side. Zanzibar played an important role in the slave trade in East Africa in the past. A visit to one of the "slave chambers" and the most famous slave monument in the world is therefore very impressive.
Fishing boats and crab hunters
Of course Zanzibar is especially loved for its snow-white beaches, complete with palm trees and crystal clear sea. The beaches are the perfect example of heavenly happiness. dazzling. Fishing boats lie quietly on the water early in the morning, waiting for their first catch, while in the evening the crab hunters try their luck. The beach at Metemwe in particular is a sun-drenched oasis of tranquility. No screaming children and hundreds of tourists who are all looking for the perfect spot with bath towels in hand, but a secluded white beach where you can relax. A refreshing glass of sugarcane juice in hand and the lapping sea right in front of you, what more could you want? It is a lot more touristy at Kendwa beach, on the west coast of the island. Here you will also find the famous white beaches, but also many stalls and small shops. Even Maasai warriors leave their tough image for what it is and try to sell you merchandise. A pity…
Also read: Top 10 most beautiful places in Tanzania
Diving with dolphins
Have you spent enough time on the beach and are you ready for some activities? Then you can do a spice tour. Zanzibar is known as the Island of the Spice and for good reason. Explore the herb gardens and smell, taste and feel spices as they were meant to be. Or take a boat trip and go dolphin spotting just off the coast. Have you seen them? Dive into the water and swim with them! Also nice is a trip to Prison Island where you can visit a giant tortoise park.
Do you already have your PADI/SSI, or would you like to get your diving certificate? Then you've come to the right place. Submerged in the Indian Ocean you can see moray eels, stingrays, pristine coral reefs, Napoleon fish and if you're lucky even whale sharks. Please note that Zanzibar is certainly not the cheapest place on earth to dive, but there are several dive spots that are definitely worth checking out. For example, you can boat dive at The Pinnacle or sail on to Bawe Island. You have the best chance of spotting a whale shark at the island of Mnembra.
Also read: Zanzibar Travel Guide | What to see and do, good food + lots of extra tips
Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!