Magnificent Zanzibar beaches, coral reefs with great diving spots and laid back atmosphere. Enjoy delicious local calamari sticks on the Spice Island of the Indian Ocean. The sunny Zanzibar archipelago is definitely nice place to chill out.
Zanzibar consists of a beautiful archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It is a semi-autonomous part of the republic of Tanzania. The archipelago’s many islands are located about 25-50 km from the mainland and two of these are more visited: Pemba and Unguja, the last one being the more popular place among travelers.
The name of Zanzibar originates from the long traditions of spice production, which today consist of seaweed, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. If you have the option of going on a tour to the spice farms, it's a great excursion as you’ll see one part of the islands long evolved culture and history.
Zanzibar City in Unguja is the capital city. The old part, the Stone Town, belongs to the family of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It encloses a long history of Arabic’s trade and you'll feel the remnants of different traditions; British, Portuguese, Persian, African and Arabic traditions blending here. Stone Town used to be the pride of the city, now just a shadow of the wealthier days. Still the narrow lanes, fine mosques, the House of Wonders, the Arab Fort and general feeling make Stoen Town enchanting. Stop by at the big market to purchase some elephant garlic, specialty of the island, and delicious avocadoes.
Ungujas most touristy places are at the waterfront area, Kenyatta rd. and Shangani rd. You’ll see more interesting places by heading to Forodhani Gardens, where you can try local food like calamari and sugar cane juice. Right next to the food market you’ll find the perfect marketplace for gifts to bring home. Prepare for bargaining!
Unguja's white sand beaches are most popular in Zanzibar. Scuba diving spots, especially around Mnemba Island are very good and you'll encounter sharks, turtles and rainbow colored reef fish.
Beautiful Kendwa beach in the northwest is fringed with bars and good restaurants. Party people gather here for Full moon parties, always held on the Saturday before full moon. When walking along the beach to and from Nungwi, remember that it’s only possible during low tide. The shallow clear bay at Paje in Zanzibar is the perfect spot for novice kitesurfers.
Head to the Jozani Forest's nice walking trails to see the endangered Red Colobus Monkeys, which live here.
Many roads in Zanzibar are in poor condition and often transportation by sea works better. You can get from Zanzibar ports to Dar es Salaam, Pemba, Mombasa, Tanga and Mtwara by speedboats and catamarans faster than ships. There are two Zanzibar airports, one in Unguja and one in Pemba. For getting around on the Islands you can always use the dala-dalas (local minivans) or taxis.
The sea breeze cools down the hot summers making Zanzibar a great travel destination any time of year. April and May are rainier, but then again they are the green months of the year and the rains usually don’t occur every day.
Pemba Island is well worth a visit even though many travelers stay in Unguja, since Pemba has the unwinding lazy atmosphere and more challenging diving spots.
When you’re diving of snorkeling you might feel tempted to pick some as a souvenir, but please think twice as this kills the reef.
Zanzibar is a conservative Sunni Muslim society and traveler’s ought to respect this by dressing not too revealingly and drinking respectable. Also note the Ramadan time.
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