Why go to Zanzibar

Find Your Zen in Zanzibar

Travel to Zanzibar to explore a world of colour, spice and seaside splendour.

A tropical archipelago off the coast of East Africa, Zanzibar boasts both striking historic culture and stretching white beaches lined with modern five-star hotels.

Zanzibar consists of many small islands and two large ones – Unjuga (informally referred to as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The islands’ main industries are spices and tourism, and the area is as renowned for its nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper as it is for its popular resorts.

While the name ‘Zanzibar’ is derived from the Persian zang-bar (meaning ‘black coast’), its regions are most commonly referred to as the Spice Islands today.

Here are some must-visits when travelling in Zanzibar…

Wellness Safari Zanzibar

Stone Town

Located in Zanzibar City on Unguja Island, Stone Town is a historic trade centre steeped in beautiful architecture and fascinating stories. It proudly boasts the title of World Heritage Site, and is rich in both Swahili and Islamic culture.

While many know Stone Town as the birthplace of iconic British singer Freddie Mercury, those who have visited will no doubt recognise the greater artistic significance of the oldest town in Zanzibar. Most of its architecture dates back to the 19th century, and reflects a unique mix of Arab, Persian, Indian and European influence.

Think winding lanes, minarets, carved doorways and landmarks the likes of an abandoned Persian bathhouse, former slave chambers, an old fort and the site of what was once an ornate sultan’s palace. A walking tour through Stone Town is a great way to explore these sites, as well as to engage with the locals as much as possible.

If you’re an avid market-goer and prepared to brave the chaos and crowds, a stop-off at Darajani – Zanzibar’s main market – is well worth including. Try to go early in the morning (when everything is still fresh), and treat your senses to a feast of everything from colourful spices and fresh fish to intricately crafted homeware and traditional garb.

If you’re planning on staying in Stone Town for a few days, spoil yourself to a stay at the Emerson Spice – a unique hotel consisting of three adjoining World Heritage site buildings. The boutique hotel hosts guests in stylishly furnished rooms structured around an airy central courtyard, and boasts one of Stone Town’s most renowned restaurants (The Tea House).

Spice Route

You’d be remiss to visit Zanzibar without exploring the origins of the spice that drives its economy. A guided walking tour through the various villages and plantations is a great way of immersing yourself in this important part of East African culture. Watch spice farmers climbing trees, learn about the culinary and medicinal uses of various plants, sport your own palm-leaf accessories (think ties, rings and bracelets) and taste some of the island’s delicious exotic fruit. A spice tour is a great way of seeing, feeling and tasting the essence of the region, and buying the best and most affordable fresh spices directly from the source is of course an added bonus.

Jozani Forest

Just twenty minutes from Stone Town, wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy exploring one of the last remaining homes of East Africa’s famous red colobus monkey. Jozani Forest offers over 6000 acres of pristine wild landscape and plenty of opportunities to spot the rare animals in their natural habitat. Thanks to the conservation efforts of reserve officials and the local people, between 2000 and 2,500 monkeys now call the forest home.

The flora is also impressive, and most walking tours include a visit to the Mangrove forest and swamp.

Prison Island

About 30 minutes by boat from the capital, this noteworthy island is a highlight for many travellers to Zanzibar. Once used by an Arab slave trader to prevent the escape of ‘troublesome’ slaves from the African mainland, Prison (also known as Changuu) Island is now the famous home of the giant tortoises that can only be found on the island. The gentle giants are a vulnerable, IUCN listed species, and while visitors are able to observe and feed them, a foundation on the island is dedicated to caring for their wellbeing.

The Rock Restaurant

For those looking for a truly unique culinary experience, the world-renowned Rock Restaurant is situated atop a rock in the sea near Michanvi Pingwe beach on the south-east coast of the island. Originally a fisherman’s post, the restaurant has become an icon of the East African coast. Specialising – of course – in seafood, The Rock offers an unforgettable view of the ocean and coast. It can be reached by foot at low tide, or by boat at high tide.

Beyond Mnemba Island

Those in search of a truly exclusive experience can escape to this private island a mere 90-minute drive from Stone Town. The secluded paradise accommodates just 20 lucky guests in ten beachside bandas (luxury huts) overlooking the world-renowned Mnemba atoll dive site. Thatched dining and bar areas, baskets of fresh fruit and fish, and romantic candlelit picnic sites line the stretch of secret barefoot luxury, from the dappled shade of the casuarina pine forest to the pristine white sands. The area is ideal for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and diving (there’s an onsite PADI dive school) as well as endless romantic beach walks and hours spent simply basking in the sunshine.

Extend your Family Safari to Zanzibar!
End your Tanzania Luxury Safari in Zanzibar

Matemwe Retreat

Another private paradise, Matemwe offers four elegant villas set high in the palm trees of a tranquil village on the north-eastern coast of Unjuga. Considered one of the most exclusive accommodation options in Zanzibar, the retreat boasts everything from uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean to a private butler to attend to your every need. Guests can enjoy a private plunge pool, personal bar and rooftop terrace for long, lazy days in the sun. Snorkelling, diving, fishing, kayaking and sailing opportunities abound, and those able to tear themselves away from the warm waters and white sandy beaches can escape to the indulgence of the world-class spa.

With so much on offer, there’s no excuse not to book your ticket to Zanzibar right away!

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Zanzibar, the perfect end to your Tanzania Luxury Safari