Zanzibar Island travel guide

Jambo Zanzibar! (Part II – my Zanzibar Island travel guide)

So you’ve passed the part of thinking about it, actually buying the plane ticket and booking a stay, getting (or not) the vaccines and you find yourself landing at the Zanzibar Airport. What now? Here is my Zanzibar Island Travel guide to help you out with the best suggestions.

Well, first of all, you should know that the airport in Zanzibar is…very interesting and not something you might be used to, the reason being it is under construction.

And now, it actually depends on what it is that you prefer to do on a holiday.

As an island, Zanzibar has a lot to offer when it comes to water-related activities, but you can also go for something else, such as a spice tour (the island is also known as Spice Island) where you can see how all your favorite spices grow and learn how they become what you love, or choose a trip on the Tanzanian continent, be it Dar Es Salaam (the former country’s capital) or one of the Game Safaris (and you sure have where to choose from).

But let’s take it one thing at a time.

My Zanzibar Island Travel Guide

Enjoy the incredible beaches!

Yes, here you can find never-ending white sand beaches and the water is not so bad either. Ok, I admit it, the water is crystal clear!

Around this island, I have seen everything from turquoise water to all the Pantone blue I didn’t think existed. It is also very easy to find someone with a boat willing to take you on the sea, just don’t expect a fancy boat, it will be a very local experience.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Go snorkeling

You don’t have to be a professional swimmer when thinking about trying to do some snorkeling, I myself have learned how to use the snorkeling mask without swallowing the whole ocean and I’ve come to really enjoy the experience.

I’ve had the chance to search for fishes in some lovely places, but this experience was the BEST. The only thing I regret was not having a waterproof camera for taking pictures…but I guess memory also works pretty well the old-fashioned way 😉

So, if you are willing to risk a little bit (fighting the thought in your head who are holding you back) , you will get the chance to see all sorts of colorful fish and coral (just please please be respectful with Mother Nature and don’t touch the coral, because it is very sensitive).

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Oh, and by the way, we’ve done snorkeling near Mnemba Island, which is a private island where Bill Gates and Naomi Campbell spend their vacations in the past.

If you are interested in the experience (and have the money, or don’t need a kidney) you can be a guest at “&Beyond Mnemba Island” (information you might find of help is that in 2015 prices were from US$1155 to US$1600 per person per night).

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Visit the marine turtle conservation pond

These are places where people take care of marine turtles and keep them safe until the age when they can lay eggs on the beaches of Zanzibar.

It is great to see these little fellows and also their larger brothers and see that they are actually taken care of, released into the wild once they are ready for it.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Enjoy the sunset from Nungwi beach

If you haven’t booked a retreat on this part of the island, known to have some of the best beaches and also the best difference between tides enabling bathing throughout the whole day, you can always book a trip here from anywhere you are.

Of course, you can expect a rather crowded beach, as compared to all the other places we’ve seen on the island, but since it’s on the North-West side you can stay and enjoy a Stoney Tangawizi while watching the sunset.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Get lost on the string streets of Stone Town

And admire the beautiful architecture that stands at the crossing of Swahili, Arab and Indian cultures, the Zanzibar door being the most memorable feature of Stone Town.

Here you can spend hours getting lost on the narrow streets, drinking delicious smoothies and eating traditional food at the local bars, shopping for souvenirs and just feeling the local vibe.

One place you shouldn’t miss is the local market, where you will be surrounded by all the oriental flavors you never thought about, just prepare yourself to bargain.

Here is where I’ve seen for the first time the gorgeous violate blue Tanzanite gemstone (please excuse my ignorance). There are tens of jewel shops where you can choose from thousands of rings, earrings and a lot of other kinds of jewelry (if this is what you’re in for).

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Take the boat from Stone Town and disembark on Changuu Island 

Also known as Prison Island, although it has never been an actual prison, the island has played different roles throughout the history: from the place where slaves were kept until they were sent away, to a coal mine, to quarantine station for yellow fever.

Today, the buildings are used as a hotel and restaurant, offering tourists the chance to stay here and to visit the former cells. Moreover, the trip from and to the island is very nice and you can enjoy both the panoramic view of the island and of Stone Town.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

 

In 1919 the British Governor of Seychelles has sent a gift of 4 Aldabra giant tortoises to Changuu. Since then, they have had fluctuations in the numbers (mainly because during the time the tortoises have bred but they have also been stolen) but are currently protected since they are considered a vulnerable species.

Tourists can now visit and feed the tortoises (the big one below was actually 157 years old – and I’m not talking about me) and trust me when I say, this is a novel experience since there are very few places in the world where you can kill time with this fellers.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Have a feast at Forodhani Gardens

We actually did not have the chance to do it because we left the city in the afternoon, but I’ve read so much about this and have heard it also from the guide we had in Stone Town.

The gardens are ideally placed overlooking the ocean, offering the perfect place for an early evening walk and why not, for savoring a local (both Swahili and Zanzibari) meal.

Having such a local print, and since it has become very touristic, the place can be of course liked or disliked.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

From the Gardens, you can also admire the “House of Wonders” (being the first house in Zanzibar to have electricity and an elevator), formerly the Sultan’s residence, now functioning as a museum of Swahili culture and the old fort, built in the 17th century that hosts now cultural shops and workshops.

In the old fort, you will also see a small arena where music and theater shows are held daily and where once per year the Zanzibar International Film Festival is held.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Go for a swim with the dolphins

We have thought about this a lot before going, partly because it involved waking up at 5:30 and having a one hour drive to the other part of the island, without being sure that you will actually get to see the real wild dolphins (because yes, they are wild).

Taking all this into consideration, after hearing stories from other fellow tourists, we have decided to actually take the trip and we were lucky to find a group of dolphins, after “running around the in the middle of the ocean for almost two hours.

You can also choose to jump in the water and try swimming with them, just keep in mind that they are, well…wild..and will simply swim away from the boats and people.

Even if we were back at the hotel just before 10 o’clock in the morning, I would totally do it once again, because not only I got to see the dolphins in their natural habitat, I have also seen another side of the island and enjoyed a lovely morning on the ocean.

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

Visit Jozani Forest Reserve

 This is the only national park in Zanzibar, where you can see Kirk’s red colobus, a local protected monkey species, a lot of bird species and butterflies. This will be just a relaxing day trip, making the best o nature and fauna that Zanzibar has to offer.

Kitesurfing 

If you are into it, Zanzibar is a go-to place for kitesurfers (as you are aware, if you are into it ;)) ). Paje beach is located in the Southeastern part of the island and here you can find miles and miles of white sand and perfect conditions for kitesurfing.

Things to do in Zanzibar Tanzania
Source: Pixabay

And this is not all, Zanzibar island and Tanzania offer lots of opportunities to spend a vacation you will never forget and where you will always want to come back (at least I do, but.. hmm life is too short and unfortunately I get only 23 vacation days per year)!

What is the perfect time of the year to visit Zanzibar Island?

If you are contemplating visiting my favorite place on Earth (ok, I am exaggerating a little bit, I cannot make out my mind about this), there are two perfect times throughout the year to do it:

  • from June to October
  • from December to February

Zanzibar Island Travel Guide | IngridZenMoments

src=”https://ingridzenmoments.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/what-to-do-in-zanzibar-2.png” alt=”What to do in Zanzibar (2)” width=”735″ height=”1102″ />Things to do in Zanzibar Tanzania

10 things to do in Zanzibar

10 things to do in Zanzibar10 things to do in Zanzibar

Ingrid is the author of IngridZenMoments, blending in travel, reading and loving in the life of a full time mutinational worker and encouraging people to live and love life to the fullest.
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24 thoughts on “Jambo Zanzibar! (Part II – my Zanzibar Island travel guide)

  1. I had to choose between visiting Zanzibar or going on safari after my Kilimanjaro hike so I chose the safari. While I don’t regret it I do wish I had made time to visit Zanzibar, even if it was just for a few days. I didn’t know you could see baby sea turtles there! Do they nest year round?

    1. Hi Christa! You definitelydid not make the wrong choice, the safari is a once in a lifetime experience. Related to the turtles, it takes actually them decades to reach maturity and lay eggs, but in the sanctuary they had turtles all ages.

  2. The beaches in Zanzibar do look amazing so that would totally be my first port of call, and second? Well the conversation project with the turtles! Totally cool. My step dad kitesurfs so I’ll totally recommend this location for him to try.

  3. Thanks for your article. I was looking for a tour like this since since I’ve been gifted with a holiday to Zanzibar. The photo with the turtles looks so cool!
    The entire place looks magical. 🙂

  4. Such an inspiring article. I’m a big fan of local markets too. I’m drawn to them. For some reason you always feel at the heart of a culture there. Keep them coming!

  5. Zanzibar looks fantastic- I would love the turtles and the tortoises! I also love a mooch around a local market! I have never thought of visiting Zanzibar but you have made me rethink! Certainly on my radar now!

  6. Some amazing ideas, I think I’d literally go through and do them all. I would love to see dolphins in the wild, and I always make a point of exploring a local market!

    1. Hi! Mostly yes, the climate in Zanzibar is perfect, the coldest month (if you could even call it cold) being July with an average temperature of 24 degrees. But for me even that would be ideal, avoiding to melt during the trips.
      Thanks for the interest!

  7. This looks like an amazing adventure. I was completely seduced by the color of the sea and the beach with the shallow waters is breathtaking.

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