Zanzibar is an island off the coast of East Africa with beautiful beaches and interesting sites to visit.
Sultans, slaves and spices
What to do when you are craving an African adventure and your fiancée is more interested in lazing on a sundrenched beach? Go to Zanzibar of course! Somehow, Anastasia and I thought Zanzibar would be less exciting and exotic than the other Indian Ocean islands we had on our list, and not quite as adventurous as most African countries. But we decided to go anyway so we could both have our way somehow. Well, we couldn’t have been more wrong…
Best of both worlds
Imagine the following: unspoilt soft, white beaches, warm azure waters stretching forever and shady green palms with hammocks suspended between them — a postcard setting, oozing mystique and romance. But on top of all this, you’ll find an island buzzing with a history of slaves, spices and sultans, making it a fascinating tourist destination for those (like me) who don’t just want to lie around and look beautiful on the beach.
Our top 5 must-dos:
- Lie on a beach and soak up the sun – The pristine beaches of Zanzibar, fringed with whispering palms.
- Snorkel and dive – Sail out to your destination on a typical Zanzibari dhow boat and spend some time in the Indian Ocean’s warm embrace. You may not even need a wetsuit.
- Visit Stone Town – Steeped in culture and history, there are many historic sites and markets. While in Stone Town, be sure to visit the amazing Forodhani Gardens, where you can pretty much spend the day eating all sorts of delicious dishes — really, everything here is good; the Darajani Market, where you will find colourful local life vibrantly displayed; the Palace Museum, the most prominent historic building in Stone Town which was built in the 19th century to house the Sultan’s family, and the Old Fort which was built in the 17th century to protect the island from attacks from the Portuguese. This is also where Freddie Mercury was born.
- Explore the slave market – An ancient site with many poignant and sad reminders of the bygone era of the slave trade on Zanzibar. It is important to be reminded of past societal ills and to observe gratitude for improvement.
- Do the Spice Tour – Spices have been traded in Zanzibar from the 17th century and remain a major industry on the island. The spice tour brings you back to its roots, literally. I never knew I could have so much fun smelling leaves and guessing which spice is which. This also gave me insight into why the food was so delicious: fresh spices add incredible flavour.
Zanzibar offers a feast of exotic spices, vibrant colours, and ancient culture. And breathtaking beaches for those thus inclined…