Zanzibar. Pristine beaches. Turquoise waters. White sands. It certainly feels like a little slice of paradise. Whether you’re looking to relax by the beach, discover the history, or explore the country, Zanzibar has so much to offer. We spent 10 days in this little paradise and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.
First stop is Stone Town, the capital city of Zanzibar. Whether you’re arriving by airplane or by ferry (from the mainland Tanzania), you’ll still be entering through Stone Town. The airport itself is just about a 20 minutes’ drive from the center of Stone Town making this the perfect place to spend the first couple of days.
Also colloquially known as Zanzibar City, Stone Town is beautiful, full of history, and bursting with fun things to do. Countless yummy cafes and restaurants with lovely sunset views. A day trip to the infamous Prison Island or the pristine Nakupenda Island. The port, the tragic history of the slave trade, the spice market, it’s the main hub of the island.
The major downside of Stone Town is the beaches. Although they are swimmable, they are not the pristine white sand and turquoise water beaches that you picture of Zanzibar, which is why we would only recommend staying two nights in the city. Leaving just enough time to explore everything the city has to offer, but also adventure to the rest of the island.
After a few days exploring Stone Town, head on over to the north coast’s Nungwi Beach. Famous for its idyllic crystal-clear waters, white sands, and honeymoon accommodations, this is certainly what you picture when you think of Zanzibar. Always quite busy with tourists, there is no lack of things to do. Water sports, day trips to go snorkeling, endless long walks on the beach, even horseback riding! Nungwi has it all! The nearby Kendwa beach is also lovely and offers a very similar experience.
I would suggest spending at least three nights on the northern coast as it really offers a very different vibe than the other areas of Zanzibar. Although it can seem a bit touristy, there are really so many amazing things to do and the beaches are by far the best in the country. The tides are relatively consistent unlike some of the other beaches on the island.
Just a few hour’s drive from Nungwi, we couldn’t leave Zanzibar without also visiting the East Coast- to the small town of Bwenjuu. Famous for its peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, we certainly we not disappointed. Although very, very different from the North Coast, Bwenjuu offered that authentic, relaxed island vibe. There were far fewer people, much less to do (in a good way), and it was a lovely place to spend a few days.
The Eastern Coast is covered with lovely beaches and towns. Paje, one of the largest has many lovely clubs and lots of wonderful food. The biggest downside of the east are the beaches. The tides vary immensely throughout the day, and it’s nearly impossible to go swimming in the ocean in the morning as the tides go so far out.
However, what it lacks in beaches, the East Coast certainly makes up for with food. The best food in Zanzibar is certainly along the east coast, probably due to the prevalence of Italians on that side!
Although quiet compared to the other areas of the island, Bwenjuu and Paje offer so many amazing things to do. Whether its visiting the Jozani forest to see rare monkeys or eating at the world famous Rock Restaurant (its built on a rock in the middle of the ocean), it offers all the fun without the busy pressure of the other areas.
Although the island itself is very small and it only takes a few hours to drive anywhere, we thought it would be easiest to be in Stone Town the night before our flight. Shopping for last minute trinkets, finding ATMs to pay our taxi driver for the trip, and picking up Co-vid test results. Plus, the airport is just 20 minutes’ drive away from most hotels!
Our trip to Zanzibar is simply incredible. It was among the most amazing trips I had ever had and I honestly wish that I could have stayed there forever. Although I normally don’t like to repeat locations, I feel like Zanzibar may be an exception!
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