12 Things Not to Miss In Zanzibar
There are fewer African names more attractive and magical than Zanzibar.
There are fewer African names more attractive and magical than Zanzibar. Turquoise sea, palm-packed beaches, timeless fishing villages and the smell of exotic spices make Zanzibar to a magical and unique travel destination.
Zanzibar consists of two large islands, plus several smaller ones. The two large islands are Unguja (usually called Zanzibar Island) and Pemba. Today Zanzibar is home of a million Swahili people. Islam is the dominant religion. But over the centuries these islands have known many cultures. Zanzibar was one of the world`s great trading hubs, making it a melting pot of African, Indian and Arabic influences.
1. Beaches: Long lazy days relaxing on a picture-perfect beach is what allures many travelers to the archipelago of Zanzibar. Without a doubt, the entire coastline along Zanzibar offers spectacular beaches, however, a few stand out above the rest. My personal favorites are Jambiani, Paje, Matemwe and Kendwa beach.
2. Stone Town: This atmospheric and mystical town is the cultural and historical heart of Zanzibar.The fascinating maze of winding lanes leads past numerous houses and mosques, wonderful cafes and restaurants, shops and bazaars. Stone Town is the only functioning historical town left in East Africa and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Highlights include the magnificent House of Wonders, the Old Customs House and the Arab Fort.
3. Forondhani Gardens: At sunset, Stown Towns waterfront Forodhani Gardens turn into a paradise for street-food enthusiastic. Food vendors present a spread of freshly grilled seafood, meat and local side dishes. Be sure to sample a Zanzibar pizza, a fried piece of dough filled with minced meat, chopped onion, tomato and egg!
4. Spice tour: For those interested in culture and history, a trip to the a local spice farm just outside of Stone Town is an activity not to be missed! You will be smelling and tasting spices, herbs and tropical fruits such as lemongrass, cinnamon, vanilla, black pepper coconuts, papaya, chili, or jackfruit and learn how they are cultivated. The tour includes a local lunch prepared by ingredients from the farm.
5. Diving and Snorkeling: A highlight of many trips to Zanzibar is the scuba diving and snorkeling. The endless coral reefs in the crystalline waters of the Indian Ocean offer some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world.
6. Jozani Forest: An excursion to the Jozani Forest, the first and only Natural Park in Zanzibar, is an interesting alternative to any sea activity. The main reason most visitors come here is to see some oft he red colobus monkeys, which are unique to the Zanzibar archipelageo.
7. Taarab music: Like much of the Islands’ culture, the music of Zanzibar, known as taarab music, is a mosaic of different influences, borrowed from all over the Indian Ocean. If you want to learn how to play taarab music or simply watch professional musicians perform, you have to visit the Dhow Countries Music Academy in Stone Town.
8. Prison Island: Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island is one of the most popular destinations in Zanzibar. Just a short boat ride away from Stone Town, you get the chance to see the islands` giant tortoise and snorkel in the surrounding corals.
9. Kite Surfing: With the most glorious clear water and strong seasonal winds, Zanzibar is a perfect place for kite surfing. The best times to come kite surfing are form June- October. Kite Surfing centres are located in the north at Nungwi and on the east, near Paje and Matemwe.
10. Market: It is said that no trip to Zanzibar is complete unless you have experienced the vibe at the market in Stone Town. It’s a very vibrant place where everything, from fish and spices to schoolbooks and mobile phones, is bought and sold. Enjoy being part of a Zanzibar experience which hasn’t yet become touristy!
11. Daladalas: Getting around Zanzibar can be very cheap and adventurous if you travel by Daladalas, the public transportation in Zanzibar. Rates depend on the distance, the longest journeys dont cost more than TSh 2,000 (USD 1.50). You can jump on any Daladala along their routes; just give the driver a sign to stop.
12. Learn Swahili: One of the best ways for travelers to tap into foreign cultures is to speak the local language or at least know some basic key phrases and words. The indigenous language spoken throughout Zanzibar is Swahili. This language is also spoken along the east African coast, particularly in Kenya and mainland Tanzania.