Discover Zanzibar – Africa’s Secret Island of Mystery
After visiting Stone Town, Zanzibar, we decided to travel to the north. Peace and harmony filled us as soon as we saw the extraordinary views and heard the beautiful birdsong at our new destination.
The island of Zanzibar is indeed a place that people dream to visit and get away from everyday life. Imagine relaxing by the ocean, spending time with your friends and family and, while exploring a new culture and meeting new people. That is exactly what you’ll get if you decide to spend your holiday here.
As a family of digital nomads, who juggles work, traveling and overall highly dynamic lifestyle, we can be a bit high strung. When you have a busy traveling schedule, and you have to move a few different times in one month, at one point, your mental strength starts to fade away and you feel like you are just about to cross the border and fall into burnout.
In such moments, coming to a place like this, where you can’t go anywhere because it is such a remote drive to get in, and you have no car can be a blessing. Spending time in such a relaxing environment and being on a Zanzibar diet, where practically all you can eat here is fruit, vegetables, and fish can help you recharge your batteries.
If you ask us, we would love to live here for at least a month to de-stress and enjoy the life at a slower pace.
Another reason why we were so excited to go on this trip is that the whole area runs on solar panels (solar energy) and it’s entirely off the grid.
Let’s talk about how you can visit this heaven on Earth too!
What should you know about Zanzibar Island?
Zanzibar Island (Unguja) is the largest and most popular island of the Zanzibar Archipelago. People had been living here for more than 20,000 years. With its diverse coastline, the central island has plenty of different experiences to offer you. Over the years, the name Zanzibar had become a synonym for the word exotic among both tourists and locals.
There is a lot more to see than just impressive palm trees, aquamarine water, and lovely shores. Zanzibar’s historic center is called Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site. We did a video and a blog post about our visit to this fantastic place, so don't forget to check that out for more information.
Unguja is a breathtaking spot that allows you to escape from your everyday life and busyness. It is home to people from all over the world, and its diversity is what makes it such a unique travel destination.
Here, primary industries are spices, raffia and, of course, tourism. Sometimes the islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago are even called the “Spice Islands” because of their rich spice-trade history.
What to visit on Zanzibar Island?
Zanzibar East Coast
All of the islands most beautiful beaches are placed here, as well as many hotels and lodges. You may have to walk a bit to arrive at the best destination for swimming or snorkeling because of the tidal range of the Indian Ocean. A lot of people who come to the East Coast choose to take day trips to the Kiwengwa-Pongwe Forest Reserve, or to break their journey from Stone Town at the ruins of Dunga Palace
Zanzibar North Coast
If you are looking for less crowded and more private beaches, this is the area to visit. The tidal range least affects this region of Zanzibar archipelago. The North coast of Zanzibar is renowned for its numerous, fantastic beach resorts. Most of them offer a variety of water-sports, boat trips, diving, village tours and excursions. If you come here, alone or with your family, you won’t have to worry about boredom.
Zanzibar North-East Coast
The majority of local top-end hotels are set on the Zanzibar’s north-east beaches. The tidal variation here is optimal for diving. The archipelago’s most beautiful reefs are hidden on the Mnemba Island which is located about three kilometers of this part of Unguja’s coast.
Many of the hotels are located in and around the village of Matemwe and by the Matemwe beach which is positioned approximately 50 km northeast of Stone Town.
Zanzibar West Coast
The atmosphere on the west coast is a bit different than the ones we’ve mentioned by now. Here, you won’t come across too many hotels and lodges, but if you want to learn more about Zanzibar’s history and culture, this is a place to go.
West coast is home to Zanzibar’s historical capital Stone Town. Also, the heart of Northern Zanzibar’s tourist industry, Nungwi’s West-Coast Beach is located here. You will notice that the beach is overrun with teenagers, trying to sell snorkeling trips and other services, which might be a little annoying, but be understanding, this is how they earn for their living.
If you want to party, you should know that Zanzibar’s wildest nightlife can be found here.
However, you can also find more reserved restaurants offering top quality, tasty seafood combined with the perfect views of the ocean.
Zanzibar South Coast
If you are looking for a more crowded place, where you can meet other tourists and locals, come to the south coast. Mingling with locals will give you an opportunity to see more and learn about their culture.
Kizimkazi is an extraordinary, authentic African village and the place most people choose when they plan to stay on the Southern shore of Unguja. Kizimkazi is most loved by tourists for its fun dolphin tours. If you are in search of a cultural experience, you will be glad to hear that East Africa’s oldest mosque is hidden in Kizimkazi.
Zanzibar South-East Coast
The tidal range is more substantial in this region, but you can still find many lovely resorts and stunning beaches here. A warm sea-breeze which takes care of mosquito numbers and makes air-conditioning slightly less necessary.
If you are in search of a relaxing beach holiday, the south-east coast will provide you with everything you are looking for. Colorful Mwaka Kogwa Festival, or the traditional Shirazi/ Persian New Year celebration is located here too, so the best time to visit this place is in July.
Pro tips for interested travelers
Here are some tips that we can share from our experience on the Unguja, and you won't be able to find this advice anywhere else, so read carefully:
- We recommend you to stay in the Kidoti Wild Garden. It is a perfect place for relaxation right by the ocean. It has a nice sitting area, and you can try kayaking if you like. We had such a lovely time there, just playing cards, chilling and bonding. It is a paradise on Earth. However, to arrive here, you will have to take a bumpy road, so be prepared for that.
All of the delicious meals in this accommodation are cooked from the fresh food that grows in their garden! This is amazing as the meals usually contain a lot of healthy fruit and vegetables.
For breakfast, you can expect to get pancakes with some papaya, banana, oranges, and pineapples or something similar.
For lunch, you will get a cooked meal – their fish masala, which is basically fish with vegetables, rice and salad is terrific, and you should most definitely try it.
For dinner, you can choose something light and healthy, such as their yummy pumpkin soup.
Every night after dinner, a beautiful fire is laid up right next to the ocean. This is a great time for reflection and planning your next day.
- You can ask locals to show you a shortcut that will lead you to the bus or taxi ride to Nungwi, a place with the best beaches. You will also have a chance to see many resorts along the way. If you want to avoid crowds, you can pay 10$ to get into one of the resorts’ private beaches.
- You should have in mind that toiletries (toothpaste, conditioner, shampoo, shower gel, etc.) are more expensive in Zanzibar, so that is what you should definitely bring along with you. To be frank, they are not expensive in comparison to the prices in Western European countries and America. They are just more costly than in other Third World countries.
- Here, you may come across water fountains, where locals drink fresh water. What can be surprising to you, is that all of them use the same cup, which is placed next to the fountain, to drink. This might seem unhygienic, but please respect their ways.
The magical island of Zanzibar is waiting for you and your friends and family to explore it and see all of the beautiful stuff it has to offer! Check out our YouTube video about this place to see more exciting information and magnificent things that blew our minds!