The festive season is over, but now it’s time to start planning your next holiday! We think you should go to Zanzibar. Here’s why:
1. Beautiful beaches
Zanzibar is a tropical island paradise in every sense of the word. Turquoise waters gently lapping at white sandy beaches, hammocks stretched between palm trees, and mesmerising sunsets … Zanzibar offers all this and more!
Although many beach resorts offer private beaches for guests, a visit to public beaches is highly advised. Get to know the different sights of the island, take a dip with the locals or enjoy a tasty snack at a seaside restaurant or from a beach vendor.
Great public beaches worth a visit:
2. A vibrant culture
With a rich history, which includes acting as tradepost epicentre for the region’s ancient Spice Route, Zanzibar is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. Besides visiting a few museums to learn more about Zanzibar’s incredibly interesting heritage, this is also your chance to dip into a vibrant cultural experience.
Visit the Hurumzi Henna Art Gallery where women artists draw on centuries-old traditional henna body-art patterns to create elaborate paintings and prints on canvas.
If you love music, a visit to the dynamic Dhow Countries Music Academy is in order. Opened by a non-governmental organisation in 2001 to provide music education for Zanzibar’s citizens and to promote the region’s traditional musical heritage, the academy (the only music school in Zanzibar) organises many paid performances for its students every year, and uses music as a tool for social change, job creation and youth empowerment.
3. Fresh seafood
Whether you want to be wined and dined in a romantic setting, or are looking to show off your own culinary skills, you’ll be treated to a fresh seafood feast in Zanzibar.
The Malindi Fish Market is worth a visit. Local fishermen showcase their hauls of kingfish, tuna, squid, octopus and more Indian Ocean seafood offerings. Expect a bustling atmosphere. This is the perfect spot if you’re looking to buy the catch of the day for dinner.
There are also restaurants aplenty if you don’t feel like cooking, or are keen to try local culinary styles. Hotels and resorts offer fine-dining options, or take a walk through Stone Town and pick a spot for an authentic Zanzibari meal.
4. Museums and history
Zanzibar’s history dates back to as early as the Stone Age. Take a journey through the ages – from its origins as a trade post for Persian, Arab and Indian traders and its years as a Portuguese colony, to its period as a sultanate under the Omani Empire and, subsequently, a British protectorate.
The Palace Museum (Beit al-Sahel) is also known as the Sultan’s Palace. It was built in the 19th century as a home for the Sultan of Zanzibar and his family. After the 1964 revolution that led to the overthrow of the sultan and his government, the site was taken over by the government and renamed the People’s Palace. Today, it is a museum where you can see objects dating back to the sultanate, such as portraits, thrones and other paraphernalia.
Prison Island (Changuu Private Island) is a half-hour boat trip from Zanzibar, and provides a glimpse into the island’s dark past as a prison complex for rebellious slaves. After slavery was abolished, it functioned as a quarantine camp for people with deadly diseases, particularly yellow fever.
More historical sights to visit:
5. Underwater gems
Zanzibar offers incredible snorkelling and diving to see vibrant coral reefs and an abundance of underwater life.
While many public beaches on the main island of Unguja (also known as Zanzibar island) offer great opportunities for snorkelling, you’ll see even more on a day trip to one of the smaller islands.
One of these is Chumbe Island, only an 8km boat ride from the west coast of the main island. Chumbe is home to Zanzibar’s first marine reserve, and at least 90% of all the coral species recorded in East Africa can be found in the small area surrounding the island. Spend the day floating among the corals to see incredible underwater sights.
6. Watersports galore
Water skiing, big game fishing, kayaking and snorkelling are some of the many marine activities you can pursue in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Watersports offers a one-stop-shop for any activity you may be interested in, including going on a “seafari”, getting a bird’s-eye perspective of the island by going parasailing, going deep-sea diving, and more.
Don’t forget to check with your hotel or resort on their watersport offerings.
7. Markets and shopping
Every trip needs a few souvenirs, right?
Darajani Bazaar in Stone Town is an authentic East African market, selling anything you might be interested in, including fresh produce, meat and fish, spices, and a variety of wares and crafts. Several stands offer souvenirs that make perfect keepsakes to take home.
8. A spicy experience
No visit to Zanzibar – aptly known as the Spice Island – is complete without a spice tour. Plan a visit to a spice farm or two to learn about all the various spices grown on the island through smell, taste and touch.
Depending on the season, you can experience the flavours of vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, lemongrass, cloves, ylang-ylang, cumin, garlic, ginger, coriander, pepper, allspice, tamarind, chilli and oregano.
Visit Tangawizi Spice Farm to explore the story of spices – from where they grow to how they are used today. You’ll also get the chance to wander through the winding streets of the Tangawizi spice farm village and picturesque forest paths.
9. Lush forests and unique wildlife
Leave the beach behind and step into a lush rainforest at Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park.
Besides towering trees and mangroves, you may get to see the endangered Zanzibar red colobus monkey and Zanzibar servaline genet, both endemic to Zanzibar. Maybe you will even spot the Zanzibar leopard, which is thought to be extinct but has a mythical status in the area.
10. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump away
Mango flies regularly to Zanzibar from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. We’ll get you to and from paradise in a jiffy.
Not based in the City of Gold? Simply add a connecting flight from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein or Durban. We look forward to seeing you on board!