The perfect escape
Zanzibar might come right at the end of the alphabet, but it should go right at the beginning of your list of places to go for the ultimate beach break that includes a world of difference.
With so few travelers, large open beaches, and little to no internet connection, magical Zanzibar is the perfect escape and ideally set up for our new COVID world. A place that very few other travel-starved explorers will think about. Tanzania is not only open to international travel but also has pretty straightforward entry requirements.
Retreats, lodges, and villas cater to groups who wish to travel in their inclusive bubble, providing personalized service and knowledgeable guides and including elements of both wellness and conservation in their offering.
You’ll find the most secluded beaches on the southwest coast of the island. Here you can sail between the tiny uninhabited islands, enjoy lunch on a remote island beach or snorkel or dive the finest reefs in the two marine parks. The Menai Bay Conservation Area and Chumbe Island Coral Park. Chumbe is home to 90% of East Africa’s hard coral species and 400 reef fish species. And conservation experts hailed it as ‘one of the most spectacular coral gardens to be found anywhere in the world’. Chumbe Island reserve includes a fully protected coral reef sanctuary, forest reserve, and state-of-the-art eco-lodge designed to have zero impact on the environment. Besides the 81-acre coral reef, rare wildlife protected on and around the island includes the giant coconut crab, Ader’s duiker (antelope), green turtle, and the mighty humpback whale.
Tranquillity, fine dining, and indulgent comfort
Fifteen miles off the coast of Tanzania lies the Indian Ocean idyll: Zanzibar Archipelago. Warm turquoise waters dotted with the white sails of dhows, miles of white powdery beaches, and small, almost deserted islands virtually unvisited by tourists make it the perfect escape from life.
Holidays in Zanzibar are at heart beach experiences. Luxury beach retreats, private island villas, and fun family-friendly resorts (most with their own beaches) offer warm welcomes and laid-back tropical experiences. Each alternative is a treasure in its way, and you could easily spend any number of lazy days without even wandering outside their gates.
From simple seaside relaxation to adventure sports
Most of the luxury retreats have their own world-class beaches, but some other exceptional beaches are worthy of a visit.
Paje, halfway up the island on the east coast is world-renowned for its ideal kite surfing conditions. Further south, Jambiani’s brilliant turquoise waters thrill the soul. Matemwe is a great place to chill out. Nungwi and Kwenda in the north present the visitor with a beautiful combination of old and new ways of life that seem to mingle effortlessly with each other. Finally, Pongwe is quieter and more isolated if you feel you still need a break from the rest of the world!
The warm coral waters have an abundance of marine life that leads to wonderful water excursions like snorkeling the shallow waters, swimming with turtles, or taking a day trip to the Mnemba Atoll Marine Reserve. Here you can swim with lionfish and mingle with moray eels and stingrays under the watchful eyes of highly knowledgeable guides.
Deep-sea diving at Mafia Island
Just a 30-minute flight south of Zanzibar, is the 3rd biggest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, Mafia Island.
Mafia Island is relatively unexplored and widely acknowledged as one of the best diving spots in Africa. Being in a marine park, the corals are healthy and widespread, and there is plenty and diverse underwater life. Divers and non-divers alike can enjoy snorkelling, whale watching, turtle hatching, and possibly the most extraordinary – swimming with whale sharks.
Our favorite, unmissable things to do
No trip to Zanzibar would be complete without visiting its world-renowned historical Stone Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Experience the real commercial hub of the island that hasn’t changed its basic nature in hundreds of years and understand why trade is right at the center of the island’s economy.
In Stone Town, you can get lost in narrow cobbled streets filled with traders, townsfolk, and motorcycle jostle and bustle for your attention, beautifully carved wooden doors, open-air markets selling fruits and spices. Whilst in Stone Town, there are several must-dos. Forodhani Gardens, a bustling stretch of seafront where the people of Zanzibar meet throughout the day to socialize. Nearby, the Old Fort was built in the 17th century by Omani Arabs. Get an insight into the opulent lives of the Omani sultans with a visit to ruined Maruhubi Palace, commonly known as the Sultan’s Palace. Visit the Aga Khan and Ijuuma mosques, and the Anglican Cathedral and the Hamamni Persian Baths.
Set sail on a traditional dhow for a half-day tour of Prison Island. Roughly 3.5 miles west of Stone Town, Prison Island was once used to isolate rebellious slaves and later as a yellow fever quarantine station. You’ll also have the chance to meet the giant vulnerable Aldabra tortoises and swim and snorkel in the delightful surrounding waters.
Here’s one that you’re probably familiar with thanks to Pinterest and Instagram – The Rock. A quaint house built on a massive rock, looking back at the city offers some of the finest dining on the island. If you want to get your Instagram shot, be sure to book– there are only 12 tables.
Indulge in an unforgettable luxury experience of your own, with an exclusive stay at the small, private Mnemba Island. Take the time to rejuvenate and heal in true African style. Fall asleep in the rustic palm-frond bandas, unwind with a yoga class or in-room massage, have a romantic dinner on the beach. Mnemba is well known for the excellent clarity of its waters and offers some excellent snorkeling, and world-class diving.
If you are into nature, then a trip to Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is a must. This 2,500-hectare forest is the largest area of indigenous vegetation on the island, and is one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the Red Colobus monkey, which is found only on Zanzibar. The park guides are also naturalists, and nature lovers will have a wonderful time following the winding paths through this unique nature reserve.
Zanzibar is well known as one of the spice islands, so why not take an afternoon excursion to visit the spice plantations and immerse yourself amongst the cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, jackfruit and lemongrass.
Let Danni be your guide
“Some of the best memories are made in flip-flops”