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Written by: Juan Proll on 13 October 2021

6 good reasons why Zanzibar is worth a visit

Zanzibar beach

Zanzibar … island of bliss, oasis of relaxation, paradise from 1001 Nights. … This is what the first line of the oriental storytellers could sound like. They are not wrong. Because although Zanzibar is no longer the untouched island in the Indian Ocean, it still has retained a lot of its seductive exoticism, as this blog shows.

When your own flag has been rammed into the ice on the summit of Kilimanjaro and the lions of the Serengeti have been spotted, then Zanzibar is the ideal place to either dive deeper into an unfamiliar world or to recover from your adventures on the white sandy beaches. Zanzibar sounds like the pledge of a prophet, like the promise to experience a foreign culture and like a prophecy that vacation here can be simply beautiful.

I too, once succumbed to Zanzibar’s charm – this unique mixture of population growth, necessary development, at times stressful traffic and sometimes annoying beach boys on the one hand and the idyllic, quiet, relaxing, impressively landscaped, culturally enriching and humanly refreshing moments on the other. My first thought of Zanzibar is still this wonderful white sandy beach on the turquoise sea, where two riders on their horses, trot dreamily along the coast under the African sun. As soon as I think about it, my inner being fills with pleasant harmony.

Zanzibar beach horse back riding

When we talk about Zanzibar, we usually mean the main island of Unguja. In fact, Zanzibar is an autonomous region of Tanzania, which includes Unguja, the second largest island of Pemba and a large number of very small islands in the Zanzibar archipelago. This of course increases the possibilities to plan a holiday and certainly provides many more than just the 6 good reasons I share on why a holiday to Zanzibar is very much worth it.

1. White Sandy Beaches

It doesn’t have to be the Caribbean if you want to take romantic walks along fine white sandy beaches or if you want to lie dreamily under gently swaying palm trees on the beach. You can walk for kilometers here, discover beautiful bays and breathe lightness. In the evening, just before the sun seems to dip into the refreshing tides of the ocean, more and more locals fill certain stretches of the beach with life: children romping around, men playing soccer, women standing “offside” and sailors taking their dhows out to sea. Usually there are also nice beach bars, where the atmospheric impressions can be enjoyed with a delicious cocktail.

Locals playing football beach Zanzibar

2. Turquoise Sea

I’ll stick with it: Talking about turquoise water may seem cheesy. But standing in front of it and seeing this blaze of colors always makes me weak. My pulse rate rises, my breathing gets faster, my heart signals in Morse “I want to get in there” and my eyes glow like warm sunrays. The turquoise of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Zanzibar is as intense and seductive as the evening belly dance in a sultan’s palace.

Turquoise water Indian ocean

3. Water Sports

If you don’t just want to take a dip in the sea but want more activity in the waters off the coast of Zanzibar, you can do that very well here. The offshore coral reefs and the fascinating underwater fauna with dolphins, moray eels, lionfish, octopuses, and lobsters offer excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving. The wide retreat of the water at low tide on the east side of the island leaves shallow waters that are ideal for kite-surfing in steady winds. The region around Paje has therefore already become a small kite-surfing paradise. Many surfers can also be found in the area, where impressive reef breaks add to the appeal to have a board under your feet. Who cares if you have to drive out to the reef for a few minutes at low tide?

Dive boat Fungu Lagoon Lodge
Photo: Fungu Lagoon Lodge

4. Flavorful food

The long and varied history of the archipelago was embossed not only by minor Portuguese and British episodes but also by Arab rulers and sultanates. The slave trade was huge. So it’s understandable that all of these developments also had an impact on local cuisine. Culinary stews, curries, and rice dishes such as Pilau are just examples. But Zanzibar is also famous for its spice tours to the farms that grow such fine products as nutmeg, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and others. Spices that have been introduced over the centuries and simply thrive here. What if you don’t use them in food, but would rather try them as a natural remedy? Well, that’s possible too. It is said that Zanzibari people use cardamom for calming, cinnamon roots for respiratory problems, cloves for toothache and nutmeg as an aphrodisiac.

Dinner plate spices restaurant Zanzibar

5. Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

The Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park protects a varied landscape of salt marshes, mangrove forests, bushland, seagrass fields and rainforest. It is located in the central east of Zanzibar and is ideal for a small excursion. The rare Zanzibar colobus monkey is native to the forests here. The forest is also home to white-throated monkeys, bush pigs, duiker antelopes, elephant shrews, chameleons and around 40 bird and 50 butterfly species.

Red Colobus monkey
Photo: R Boed

6. Stone Town

The eventful history of the island is most visible today in Stone Town, the old town district of Zanzibar City, capital of the archipelago. Here the traces of time are reflected in colonial architecture and a special amalgamation of the most diverse cultures. This unique mixture has made Stone Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strolling in the alleys of the old town is like immersing yourself in the stories from 1001 Nights: pompous sultan’s palaces, the old fortress, women in colorful costumes, men with Muslim hats, the hustle and bustle, the smell of grilled fish and sea water on the Forodhani Food night market, oriental music in the courtyards, prayers over loudspeakers and a jumble of Swahili, English and, above all, Arabic languages. In short: the Arab-Islamic character of the island can be felt very clearly here.

Stone Town Zanzibar alleyway

Zanzibar is only about 40 km from Tanzania’s east coast and is easily accessible by boat and plane. A visit here is definitely worth it. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and support you in planning your Tanzania trip. Here on site, we are always well informed about the current situation. So get in touch with us!

Author: Juan Proll

Traveling has always been Juan Proll's great passion: three years in Latin America, two years in Southeast Asia and Oceania as well as short trips of up to nine months in Europe, Central America, and North Africa. In 2010, he decided to quit his job in Germany as an adult education teacher and head of department for migration issues and to become a ranger in South Africa. Juan has been traveling across Africa since 2011, traveling to southern and eastern Africa and also climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Beforehand, he completed his nature guide training in South Africa and worked in a Big Five game reserve. With further training and intensive self-study to become a cultural guide, Juan has since expanded his field of activity beyond the natural world to include the countries, cultures, and its people. In mid-2013 he joined Africa-Experience and has been guiding travelers through Africa as a safari guide ever since. Juan is a member of the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa.

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