Zanzibar is a dreamy archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. An extremely popular destination for those seeking a different side of Africa. With Stone Town as its hub, and the many white sand and almost deserted beaches surrounding the island, Zanzibar the perfect place to kick back and relax at the end of a trip to Tanzania.
Coming into Zanzibar can pose a challenge depending where you are. The easiest and cheapest routes are from Kilimanjaro International Airport and Arusha airports. Flights from other regions leave irregularly and are flown by private carriers, and therefore might not leave if there are not enough passengers to board the plane.
Another option to reach Zanzibar is by ferry from Dar Es Salaam. Catching a flight to Dar Es Salaam from anywhere is easy, however the ride from the airport to the ferry can take about 2 hours with traffic. The ferry ride takes about 8 hours long, and it won’t be the most comfortable ride you’ve ever taken, so be prepared to rough it.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000, the inner city of Stone Town beautifully blends its African, Middle Eastern, and Indian cultures. Contrary to the rest of Tanzania, Zanzibarians are for the most part muslim, which can be quickly noticed in the way the wear differs from other parts of Tanzania.
Stone Town is a maze of alleys surrounded by stone building walls in which it is extremely easy to get lost. Although its boisterous center is home to many shops and restaurants, it is still far from being a tourist trap and things remain quite cheap. In fact, most of Zanzibar is still quite affordable and your stay in Stone Town will definitely not bring you over your budget.
There are various sights within Stone Town, most notably the House of Wonders and the Arab Fort, two of the most visually striking sights of Stone Town.
Touts abound offering tours to Turtle Prison Island (home to giant turtoises and sea turtles) and to spice farms. Scams abound so make sure you book with a reputable agency.
Sunsets from the port are the best, with an array of fishermen still on their boats until the last ray of sunlight dies.
The archipelago of Zanzibar is surrounded by many white sand and often isolated beaches, all with a different feels from each other. Nungwi, Kendwa, Jambiani and Paje beaches being the most popular.
I only hit Paje and I absolutely loved it. The white sand beaches, all boasting an incredibly blue water, are a dream come true for every beach lover.
In Paje I tried my hand at kitesurfing, an extremely popular sport in Zanzibar. Paje is the perfect beach to try it for both beginners and advanced kitesurfers; wind conditions and the absence of crowds make this the ideal place to take on this sport.
Buses are by far the cheapest option to going to any of the beaches in Zanzibar, most leaving from Stone Town. However, taking a taxi will definitely save you a couple of hours to reach the longest beaches, and can be quite affordable if you’re part of a larger group.
Have you been to Zanzibar and its beaches? Which beach did you like best?