Zanzibar is the semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.
Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world, but sand and surf vary depending on what side of the island you’re on. On the east coast, waves break over coral reefs and sand bars offshore, and low tide reveals small pools of starfish, small minnows, and anemones. Up north, ocean swimming is much less susceptible to the tides, and smooth beaches and white sand make for dazzling days in the sun.
The port city of Stone Town dominates the west coast, and although the beaches of Mangapwani, where slave caves are visible at low tide and nearby Bububu are less than half an hour’s drive away, a night or two spent on the east or north cost is well worth the extra hour it takes to drive there. That said, the Chole Island Marine Park just off Stone Town – and nearby Prison, Grave, and Snake Islands – make a refreshing day-trip and a good break from exploring the winding passageways of the old city.
On the south coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection area for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the southeast coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primate and small antelope species.
Excursions and activities Zanzibar
- Spice tour: walk with a guide through spice plantations where pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and fruit grows.
- Kitesurfing: at the beaches Paje, Kiwengwa en Nungwi.
- Mountain bike excursion
- Stone Town excursion: stroll through the narrow streets of this lively town and visit some local markets and the former slave market.
- Prisoner Island excursion: take a 30 min. boat trip to this island, which once was a place where slaves were detained. Nowadays it is a nature reserve for giant tortoises and a place to see the ruins of the former prison.
- Safari Blue: during this excursion you visit 3 islands where you can swim, snorkel and have a nice BBQ.
- Visit Jozani forest: a great jungle walk through the last indigenous forest on Zanzibar with lots of monkeys, like the rare red colobus monkeys.
- Snorkeling and scuba diving at one of the many great reefs.
- Cultural tour: this excursion gives you an insight in the way of life of the local people.
- Mnemba Island tour: snorkeling trip to the most popular snorkeling spot in Zanzibar.