If you want to walk fast, walk alone, if you want to walk far walk with others . African Proverb.
When to go?
To avoid the rainy seasons, go to Zanzibar from December to Feb included or June to August included. We zent in December and the weather was amazing!
What to do?
The North of The Island is where you find the big resorts and 5 stars hotels, the south of the island is more basic and authentic so I'm glad we stayed there.
We stayed 5 days at Dolphin Safari Lodge in Kizimkazi, a small village at the south-west bottom of the island. The lodge was actually 15 min from the village by car through a dirt road. With a stunning view and a private beach that place is a little hidden paradise. Accommodation is basic: a bed, a mosquito net and a fan but right in the middle of a beautiful nature. We could even see a Zanzibar bushbaby at night.
We shared diner with the owners and other guests every night and had a few drinks around the fire prepared by the Masai who looks after the place at night..The concept is unusual and not for everyone but we loved it as the place has kept the spirit of Africa. Just don't expect to go party as there is nothing around apart from the friendly place next door Promised Land with plenty of hamacs to chill and reggae music.
Other beaches to visit :
Nakupenda beach (West, Stone town)
Paje beach (East, Kite surf beach)
Nungwi beach (North)
Kendwa beach (North)
Wherever you go on the island, the beaches are stunning, white sand with crystal clear water so it's hard to pick a best one! You can go snorkeling in many places, the hotel will lend you the equipment. There are big tides in Zanzibar so go swimming when it's high tide. At low tide I loved to go walking and watch the wildlife, birds, crabs...and people collecting animal shells and seaweed.
2. Get lost in Stonetown
We spent 3 days in Stone Town and I absolutely loved it! Stone Town is the capital of Zanzibar and is the only functioning ancient town left in East Africa. It is a historical place with a beautiful Architecture mostly from the 19th century with a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements.
There is so much to do there and my favourite part was to get lost in the narrow streets and admire Life, colours and pretty carved Zanzibari doors with a meaning behind each of them!
Visit the Old fort, the House of Wonders (was closed when we went), the Slave Market and Freddie Mercury's house.
Where to stay?
Warere Town House is a beautiful building 15 min walking from the centre of the old quarter, with a nice rooftop where you will enjoy having breakfast, the staff was a bit sleepy and not very smily but still efficient as we booked Spice tour and Prison island tour through them and both were amazing!
Where to eat?
Emerson Spice Rooftop Tea House, you have to book a few days before as this is a very popular place, a stunning building of the 18th century. One of the best and highest place to be for sunset. Go really hungry as this is a 5 courses menu. Lots of different flavours and extraordinary place.
Jafferji House and spa, local restaurant with tables and cushions to lye down. We loved to rest in the aircon during a hot afternoon and taste some beautiful food.
Baboo Cafe, a little simple place to go during the day under the trees with a direct view on the sea and boats, close to the 6 degrees Bar/restaurant
Tamu For ice-creams, not very local but we were literally going everyday to break from all this walking and taking hundreds of photos :)
To buy fruits or vegatables, go to the vibrant Darajani Market during the day and from 6pm to Forodhani gardens, you will find lots of stalls and open-kitchens where you try the local cuisine.
Where to have a drink?
6 degrees Tea House Terrace, open from 5pm, This is the best place we found for sunset.
Mercury’s bar/restaurant; this restaurant pays tribute to Freddie Mercury who was born in Zanzibar in 1946. they had a live band when we went.
3. Don't miss The Spice tour
I was really impressed by this tour and I could finally see some spices and fruits I have always used but I had never seen in the wild like clove which is one of the first revenue of the island, vanilla, pepper, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, passion fruit...The guide had a clear English and brought up some really interesting facts. We got to see, touch and smell all the spices and we could taste some fruits. We even got to drink coconut juice picked in front of us in a high coconut tree. It was an amazing experience that involved all our senses! Then we could buy some massage oils, soaps and spices to support the local communities and had lunch all together on a mat, vegetarian but so tasty. After the spice tour, they took us to a stunning beach with incredible Rocks formation and we could swim. A perfect way to finish the day! Do not go to the cave if they ask you, there is no point, it is very dark and there is not much to see. You will be back in Stone town at about 3:30 PM (leaving at 9 AM). Definitely a must to do while you are in Stonetown!
4. Prison Island
Prison Island also called Changuu Island is a little paradise only 20 minutes from Stone Town by boat. It wasn't so nice before as It used to be a prison for rebellious slaves in 1860s. You can still visit the ruins of the prison. The view is very pretty up there. This small island is absolutely stunning and a natural reserve for giant tortoises. You can get close and touch them. The captain of our boat was also our guide, included in our tour (only 15$) which was nice to know a bit more about the island. Then he took us snorkeling however the sea was too rough that day.
Still an amazing half-day trip that you won't forget!
5. Eat at The Rock
It's a must to experience the Rock Restaurant located on the south-east part of the island 15min North of Paje the popular kite-surfing beach. Book a few days before online HERE as this place gets fully booked really quickly. We went on Christmas day, not just the view but the food was also amazing! I had some tasty local pasta and Jay the best steak he had ever had. The vanilla cinnamon ice-cream was delicious! There is an outdoor terrace at the back of the restaurant where you can relax after lunch. A little pricey but absolutely worth it!
6. Visit Jozani Forest
About 30min drive from Kizimkazi, 45min from Stone Town, Jozani is a unique tropical forest in Africa and the only National park in Zanzibar. The guide took us through the forest and the mangroves, showed us the flora. We saw some beautiful butterflies, a black monkey and a lot of wild Red Colobus monkeys.
Red colobus monkeys can only be seen in Zanzibar. The tour was worth it because we could get so closed to the monkeys. I even saw one jumping from one tree to another, just over my head !
7. Swim with The dolphins
Kizimkazi is the ideal place to see Dolphins. From July to October, you can even see whales. On Christmas Day, a boat picked us up at 6 AM from our little private beach and we went a couple of kilometers away. We saw many dolphins and jumped from the boat every time to swim with them. They were going away very fast are they were hunting. However it was still a magic experience to see some dolphins under water, even a baby.
8. Visit The villages
It was nice to see some local life in the villages, watch The children playing and some goats sleeping next to a haut. In Kizimkazi there was a huge baobab in The middle of the village, unbelievable!