ZANZIBAR TRAVEL GUIDE
In this Zanzibar travel guide, join us as we explore this breathtaking island located in the Indian Ocean, 25 kilometers off of the Tanzanian mainland. Known for its rich culture and amazing sunsets, we hope the recommendations below will be helpful as you plan your next excursion to Zanzibar!
ZANZIBAR TRAVEL GUIDE: WHERE TO STAY
Isaraya Luxury Over Water Villas are located over the Indian Ocean off Konkono beach, on the southeast coast of Zanzibar. Both all-inclusive villa features stylish, contemporary African decor and a private pool. Large windows and glass doors provide breathtaking views of the ocean and gardens.
If you want to be surrounded by Stonetown’s rich history, the Seyyida Hotel & Spa is the perfect spot. This 17-room hotel’s architecture is a fusion of the city’s Swahili, Arabic and Portuguese influences. After exploring the island, pamper yourself with one of the spa’s invigorating treatments that utilize local spices and plants.
Asali beach house is a modern, breezy 4-bedroom villa listed on airbnb. It is close to a tranquil, white sandy beach and includes a private pool. Indulge in scrumptious meals prepared by the on-site chef as you enjoy the serene settings.
ZANZIBAR TRAVEL GUIDE: WHERE TO EAT
The Rock Restaurant on Michamvi Pingwe beach has become a Tanzanian icon for its extraordinary location. Patrons can wade to its entrance at low tide and travel by boat during high tide. Apart from its location, The Rock Restaurant is recognized for its menu that offers dishes inspired by locally-sourced seafood and produce. Forodhani Gardens, also known as Jubilee Gardens or Forodhani Park, can be found in Zanzibar's historical Stone Town. The Forodhani Gardens is home to the daily Night Market. Tourists and locals convene over history, culture and freshly prepared cuisine. The market’s most popular dish, Zanzibar pizza, is a must-have. Various ingredients such as chicken, seafood, mayo and egg are stuffed in dough that is fried in ghee until it is crispy. Rather than buying food laid out on the stalls, order your meal and have it served piping hot to ensure its freshness. Alcohol is prohibited in the gardens so avoid vendors that claim to be selling it.
If the hustle and bustle of the night market is not for you, visit Msonge Farm for a delightful, picnic-style experience. A range of flavorful dishes including curries, chapati, and fried fish are prepared using organically-grown ingredients from this family-owned farm. As guests enjoy their meals in the farm’s gardens, they are entertained by live Taarab music.
Emerson Spice Rooftop Teahouse in Stonetown also offers live music including Taarab. This restaurant is on the rooftop of a 19th-century building that Zanzibar’s last Sultan (ruler) once lived in. With its curved wooden Zanzibari furnishings, vivid Persian rugs and spectacular 360-degree views of the island, Emerson Spice is a feast for the senses. Seafood lovers are in for a treat with the set five-course, seafood-based tasting menu served every evening from 1900hrs. Book well in advance to avoid disappointment!
Credit: artwork by Henry Lilanga
ZANZIBAR TRAVEL GUIDE: WHAT TO EXPLORE
Before you head out, it is important to remember that you must wear loose-fitting, non-transparent clothing that covers the knees and shoulders when you’re not on the beach. Nudity and topless sunbathing are not permitted on any beach. Disposable plastic bags are banned in Zanzibar but you can carry your liquids/toiletries in recyclable plastic bags.
Zanzibar is renowned for some of its festivals. The Sauti Za Busara Festival is an annual live music festival that brings together African acts from across the continent. There are also other showcases such as fashion shows and film screenings. For an even wider selection of local and international films, visit the Zanzibar International Film Festival. Established in 1997, the festival features films across various genres including documentary, drama and shorts. 6 Degrees South is home to some of Zanzibar's hottest live Afro Jazz and Afro-Fusion music every week from Tuesday to Thursday. Take advantage of the happy hour from 7pm - 9pm daily.
At the Forster art gallery, you can relish in the work of Tanzanian and other African artists. Highlights include the enchanting paintings of Hendrick Lilanga, Raja Oshi’s abstract works and captivating portraits by Micheal Soi. Appointments are required for all visitors. No trip to Zanzibar is complete without a tour of a spice farm. Learn about the role of spices in the island’s historical trade, how they are grown and used. After that, you will be able to purchase the spices and enjoy a meal that incorporates them.
If you have time to explore the mainland we recommend the 1.5 hour flight from Zanzibar to Arusha. From there you can easily take a day trip to the Serengeti National Park and sneak in a free tour of Sidai Designs workshop and retail center in Arusha where you'll meet Sidai's Masaai beaders and learn about beading techniques. If you can't make the trip, you can still experience Sidai's exquisite products in our shop including one-of-a-kind jewelry, textiles, wall art and nursery mobiles that make the perfect gift for yourself or loved ones.
The treasure island of Zanzibar is one to be explored for a sunny, much-needed getaway.