Zanzibar, along with Iceland, Rwanda & Australia is on top of my bucket list right now. Most travelers visit Zanzibar for just a beach vacation and come back with a much richer experience that more than justifies the trip. There is no denying that Zanzibar beaches are renowned for their beauty, and it is a treat for beach goers, like myself, to explore Pemba Island and Mafia Island.
However, there is lot more to explore in Zanzibar and plenty of options to indulge yourself. You opt for deep sea diving and discover the incredible corals and marine life or take long walks on the untouched beaches. The fresh catch in Zanzibar offers a grilled seafood platter that is a culinary dream for many.
Here are my personal reasons to visit Zanzibar and why you should too.
Snorkeling at Mnemba Atoll – Declared a marine conservation area, the coral atoll is surrounded by alive reefs that are abundant with an enormous amount of fish and marine creatures. I would love to see green turtles; pelagic creatures, whale shark and the rare nudibranchs. The best part is that you get to see those rare species in their natural setting. The waters are teeming with tropical reef fish and the visitors get a chance to interact with these magnificent marine mammals. I would truly enjoy an experience like that.
Join the local cooking classes – If you really want to understand the local culture and cuisine, then it is a good idea to join their cooking classes. The courses available teach you how to prepare meals in the traditional Swahili way. The cooking classes are organized by tour companies, and there are many opportunities to take advantage of. While you learn those exotic Swahili dishes, you make new friends and can cook a traditional Swahili meal back home and impress your friends. I know my friends would be impressed if I cook literally anything – really!
Go out and swim with Dolphins – If you head towards North, about an hour from stone town, you will come across Kizimkazi, where there are almost 100’% chances to see bottlenose dolphins and humpback dolphins both! Since I missed the whales in Sri Lanka and sharks in Cape town, I would really want to swim with the cute dolphins. There are many tour operators who can provide the trip and make sure to carry your camera with you. However, be sure to read the guidelines set by the Institute of Marine Science for responsible dolphin viewing.
Enjoy the great beaches – Zanzibar beaches are different, and the islands offer more than 30 pristine beaches, that are still pure and untouched. You will come across the best beaches near on the North Coast and the East Coast. I can just imagine myself with relaxing on the powdery-white sand near the crystal-clear waters. Those beaches are simply awesome to relax and unwind plus soothe your soul. There could be no better way to spend your vacation.
Dine at Forodhani – The famous night food market starts late in the afternoon in stone town. My trip to Zanzibar would be incomplete unless I dine at Forodhani and experience the vibe of the market. Its a delight for any traveler as you can enjoy grilled fish, meat and vegetables and the options in seafood are simply endless. You will relish savoring those hot samosas and fried potato balls and fresh naan bread. Watch the traders prepare for the busy and fun night ahead, as charcoal braziers get lit to life and tables set up. Watch cubes of meat and fish skewered into long kebab sticks and the vegetables sliced as the hungry visitors start arriving.
Luxury Resorts – If you are looking for the ultimate Zanzibar experience, you must try one of the top Resorts in Zanzibar to enjoy in the lap of utmost luxury and comfort. So, I have already started saving up to treat myself to an exquisite resort experience in Zanzibar.
Plenty of festivals – Sauti za Busara, Jahazi & Mwaka Kogwa are the three major annual festivals. Sauti za Busara is the Music festival that brings together people of all ages and backgrounds and held in February. I would love to join the festivities with African music in the background. The ZIFF Festival is the largest cultural event that takes place in June and July. It is another hot joint for cinema, music and performing arts. Enjoy those festivals that are a magical meeting ground of diverse cultures and styles.
House of Spices –House of Spices is a place which should not be missed. Find the building which is 200-years old in Stone Town’s labyrinth. It is a teahouse, restaurant and boutique hotel; all rolled into one. Here you will find Arab roots in fusion with bright, contemporary décor. Stay here for an unforgettable experience.
After reading so much about Zanzibar and jotting down my reasons, I just want to pack my bags and visit Zanzibar right now. Have you been to Zanzibar yet? Share your experience with me.