The Zanzibar Archipelago is a collection of islands just off Tanzania’s coast. Also known as the Spice Islands, these exotic isles of powdery white sands, shady palms, crystal clear waters and stunning coral reef, are the perfect place to relax after the drama of a safari and also make a great stand-alone beach holiday. Perfect for honeymooners and anyone looking for a slice of island paradise.
It’s the white sands, sparkling blue ocean and relaxed vibe that makes Zanzibar one of our favourite choices for a beach retreat. Added to this, Zanzibar’s proximity to both Tanzania and Kenya make it the ideal spot for a safari and beach combination holiday. The archipelago is formed by over 50 islands, ranging from tiny outcrops to the three main isles; Zanzibar Island; Pemba Island and Mafia Island, each with their own character and attractions.
Zanzibar Island is the principal isle, with a superb range of accommodation ranging from simple lodges to boutique hotels and luxury villas. The prime spot for great beaches and relaxed sleepy villages is the east coast and the further south you head, the more laid-back and tranquil you’ll find the ambience.
But if you tire of beach life, there’s plenty to see and explore. The Indian Ocean monsoon winds have been bringing visitors to Zanzibar for over 2,000 years and it’s these monsoons that enabled the spice and slave trade with Arabia, Persia and India to thrive. The evidence of this long history and rich cultural mix can still be seen today, particularly in Stone Town. We suggest a wander through the exotic atmosphere of the town’s medieval labyrinth of narrow alleyways, palaces and mosques. Look out for the intricately carved wooden doors, which were once a symbol of wealth and status.
For those interested in the spice trade, we would also recommend a tour of a spice plantation, where you will learn more about the industry and have a chance to sample a selection of fruit and spices. Your guide will explain how the spices are grown using African farming methods and you will be able to smell, feel and taste up to 50 different fruits, plants and spices, depending on the season. The tour ends with a cooking lesson where you will use the spices to make your own sauce to enjoy with a traditional Swahili lunch of spiced rice, bananas and freshly farmed local vegetables.
Zanzibar is ringed by some of the best coral beaches in Africa, making it a real pleasure ground for both divers and snorkellers. For experienced divers, we would recommend exploring the smaller islands in the archipelago; Pemba and Mafia.