Zanzibar: An Exotic Island Getaway
Sink your bare feet into the sands soft as silk, bask in the crystal-blue waters of the Indian Ocean, stroll the colorful streets of Stone Town, or tour the cottage spice industries of the sunny seaside paradise that is Zanzibar.
Located just 15 miles off the coast of mainland Tanzania, the island is a fascinating blend of Arabic, Indian and African culture.
The word “Zanzibar” is derived from the old form “Zengbar” which initially meant the Eastern Coast of Africa. It is probably a Persian word “Zeng” means black and “Bar” means land or region. The Arab version was Zinjibar.
Zanzibar is a Semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa. It is the Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which comprises town main islands of Unguja (Informally referred to as Zanzibar) and its sister island Pemba as well as about fifty smaller islets. The land area of the two main islands is approximately 2,332 square kilometers of which Unguja is 1,464 square kilometers. Zanzibar (Unguja) is mainly a low lying island, with its highest point at 120metres above sea level.
A white sandy beach encircles the island which is full of palm trees. Long beaches are found at the East and North Coast of Zanzibar island. Other nearby island Countries and territories include Comoros and Mayotte to the South, Mauritius and Reunion to the far South East, and Seychelles islands about 1,500 Kms to the East.
The Capital of Zanzibar , located on the island of Unguja is Zanzibar Town and it’s Historic Center, it is located about 35 kilometres off the Coast of Mainland Tanzania. Until 2002 Zanzibar had a population of about 981,754. In Zanzibar Island of Unguja the total population is about 620,957 and Pemba 360,797. The population growth is about 2.7% – 3.1% annually, the current population is estimated to be more that 1,200,000. The most commonly practiced religion is Islam. 80% of Zanzibar’s population follow the laws of Islam. Its history was influenced by the Arabs, Persians, Indians, Portuguese, British and The African mainland. The remainder are a mix of Hindus and Christians.
Zanzibar’s local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colourful history. Zanzibaris speak Kiswahili (But English is also widely spoken), a language which is spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar as it is the birth place of the language. Zanzibar is a few degrees South of the Equator and enjoys a tropical climate that is largely dominated by the Indian Ocean monsoon.
When to go to Zanzibar Island?
December - March is generally hot and dry
April - Mid of June is wet because of the long rains
July - August is dry and breezy with little rainfall
October - November is when the short rains appear.
Where to Stay on Zanzibar Island?
Located less than 20 minutes’ flight from mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar is a separate state within Tanzania, made up of Zanzibar Island itself and nearby Pemba Island.
Delve into its history and the island comes to life, revealing rich trade with Arabia, Persia and India over the last 2,000 years. The island offers a fascinating mix of cultures and a captivating history, but Zanzibar’s main attraction is its beaches.
There is a huge range of beach hotels on offer, from large all-inclusive resorts to small boutique lodges – there is something for everyone here but our favourites include, Pongwe Beach Hotel, Baraza Resort & Spa and Breezes.
The island’s activities are focused around the beach, with sunset cruises, snorkelling and diving trips offered from every lodge. You can swim with dolphins at Kizimkazi, see the giant sea turtles of Nungwi, and even visit the colobus monkeys of Jozani Forest if you are able to drag yourself away from the beach!
The island’s capital, Zanzibar Town, is a hive of activity. This honeypot of local culture attracts tourists into its central ‘Stone Town’, a myriad of narrow streets where travelers explore the town’s compelling architecture, haggle at market stalls and learn about the island’s fascinating history. A trip to the island is not complete without a night in Stone Town to appreciate the importance of this little place.
What to do on Zanzibar Island?
Snorkelling – Off the east and north coast of Zanzibar there is excellent reefs with colourful marine life. Pemba Island is particularly good for those who are really keen
Diving – Diving trips can be organised from all the hotels we love to recommend. Again, Pemba Island offers some of the best diving in the world. Mafia Island diving is also exceptional with the mighty whale sharks in abundance here from October – March.
Jozani Forest Tour – In Zanzibar’s only national park find the endangered red colobus monkeys & many more tree hoppers such as bush babies…
Spice Tour – This is for those interested in trees, spices (for obvious reasons) & where everything is from. Learn about all the different spices in Zanzibar from their origins.
Prison Island Tour – Contrary to the name, no prisoners have lived on this island. It used to be an isolated area for the yellow fever epidemic sufferers, but now it is home to the Aldabra giant tortoises which is the main attraction of the island. A short 30 minute boat ride from Stone Town.
Stone Town Tour – Take a guided tour around the cobbled streets of charismatic Stone Town and learn about Zanzibar’s rich history & culture.
Or just…Relaxing – The perfect place for it… And everything else… Dolphin tours, sunset dhow cruises, you name it & Zanzibar probably has it!
Recommend length 5 days from $1,500/person (double occupancy)
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