Zanzibar & Beach Holidays
Zanzibar and Beach Holidays
Mystery and Magic – the Lure of the Spice Islands
The beautiful archipelago of Zanzibar on Africa’s east coast is an extraordinary place to explore. Also known as Spice Islands, the Zanzibar Archipelago will mesmerize you with its opulent culture and history, marvelous white sandy beaches with palms towering lazily by the crystal turquoise waters.
Zanzibar is the semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean that consists of many small islands and two large ones: Pemba and Unguja. Unguja’s historic center, the Stone Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the past, the Zanzibar Archipelago was famous worldwide for its spices, particularly the clove plantations.
Zanzibar’s Capital of Bygone Empires
Previously the court of the Sultan of Oman, Zanzibar has a rich and intricate history. The shreds of evidence of this captivating history can be found everywhere on the island.
Walk around the Stone Town and you’ll witness two millennia of history spectacularly unfold before your eyes. Zanzibar’s architecture is a remarkable mix of Arabic, Indian, European, and African styles. There are more than 500 doors across the Stone City’s with remarkable carvings, brass spikes and even verses containing quotes from Koran.
In addition to its fascinating architecture and majestic past, Zanzibar also offers historical tours to clove plantations, mesmerizing beaches, captivating music, delightful food and much more.
If you are diving and snorkeling enthusiast, you can choose from three main areas, with Mnemba considered to be the best. However, those seeking privacy will find several less popular snorkeling sites along the Zanzibar east coast.
The Wildlife of Zanzibar
Some 35 km south of Zanzibar Town lies the Jozani Forest, part of the Jozani-Chwaka Conservation Area. Within the forest, you’ll find the rare red Colobus monkeys, as well as several other species of monkeys, birds, and butterflies. Here, you can experience the rare pleasure of close observation of the indigenous wildlife, although the park staff recommends that you don’t approach monkeys closer than 3 meters.
Pemba – the Original Spice Island
As Zanzibar beach holidays is upbeat and cosmopolitan, Pemba is as laid back and natural. Hilly and fertile, Pemba was once known among Arab traders as ‘al khuthera’, literally ‘the green island.’ Its agricultural bounty is the island’s economic mainstay – Pemba provides almost 80% of the archipelago’s output in cloves alone.
Apart from cloves, Pemba has many other attractions to offer. For those with an appetite for mystery (or simply curious), the island has long been renowned as a center for voodoo and traditional healing. Even today, believers come from all over East Africa seeking cures or learning.
Pemba Channel and its shores are a true delight for watersports and diving enthusiasts. Coral reefs, steeply shelving undersea topography and beautiful pristine beaches all combine to make a swimming or diving expedition truly unforgettable.
Mafia Island – Divers’ Paradise
Twenty minutes flight south of Dar es Salaam is Mafia Island. Praised by divers, snorkelers and game fishermen alike, the Mafia archipelago is protected by extensive barrier reefs. It is home to the fauna of four hundred fish and five turtle species, spread out along fifty sorts of corals.
In 1995, the archipelago with an area of 820 sq. km embracing the southern and eastern shores of Mafia island and several atolls was declared Tanzania’s first Marine Park. For those whose experience of African fauna is restricted to terrestrial habitats, it will take perhaps five minutes below the waters off Mafia to experience something akin to an epiphany.
Swirling around the base of mushroomed coral outcrops is a veritable kaleidoscope of reef dwellers, their brilliant, luminous hues reflected in equally colorful common names including clown fish, butterfly fish, rainbow fish, lionfish. In deeper waters divers come across larger species: groupers, sharks, tuna, rays while the open sea verging the marine park is renowned for game fish such as marlin, barracuda and sailfish.
Music and Nightlife
After your historic expeditions and thrilling outdoor adventures, when you come back to the Stone Town, don’t miss evening events such as listening to Taarab music in one of the local music clubs. Taarab is the island’s traditional musical genre and is considered an important cultural unifier among some locals.
Traditionally accompanied by an orchestra of at least twenty-five musicians, Taarab singers recite from memory their poems on love and romance in poignant and subtle verses.
Scattered here and there around the country are fascinating reminders of Tanzania’s rich and colorful history. Anywhere you go, you will find sites and places both stunning and unexpected.
What To Do In Zanzibar
Zanzibar beach holidays Itineraries