Beach Holidays In Tanzania
Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterised by beautiful sandy beacheswith fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.
Zanzibar's brilliant white beaches lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean provide the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from some busy sightseeing.
The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages, where the people live a simple way of life, unchanged over the years. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is likely to be the ocean.
At the northern tip of the island is Nungwi, approached by a road lined by banana palms, mangroves and coconut trees. This is the dhow building capital of Zanzibar island, so it is a good place to see traditional craftsmen at work.
On the west coast of Zanzibar, Mangapwani beach is worth a visit, and to the east are the beaches of Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Uroa, Bwejuu and Jambiani, all with stretches of beautiful white sands.
Zanzibar also boasts several small offshore islands which are ideal for a day-trip. Prison (or Changu) island is the most popular with tourists because it is only a short trip from Stone Town. Originally, it was used by Arabs to detain recalcitrant slaves, and then a jail was built by the British, but it was never actually used. Visitors to Zanzibar will notice a large population of ancient Aldabra tortoises. Other islets near to Stone Town are Chapwani, Chumbe and Bawe.
Stone Town, swim with dolphins, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, kite surfing, dhow excutions
Some dive sites rank among the best on the African coast, some say among the best in the world. The prime dive sites are at the north of the island, particularly off the Mnemba Atoll and in the Pemba Channel. The south east coast is renown for drift dives and the south coast, relatively recently opened up for diving, is revealing many rewarding sites.
The ocean around the west coast of Pemba Island is reputed to be provide some of the best sites in the world. The waters, coral and marine life around Mafia Island, being a Marine Reserve, are pristine and far less visited. Please ensure you only dive with a dive centre accredited with an internationally known accrediting organisation such as PADI, or equivalent.
Due to the extreme rise and fall of tides on the islands, and East African Coast, snorkelling off the beach is limited. The most rewarding snorkelling is to go out with the dive boats beyond the reef which runs around the island, and it is these very reefs which provide for spectacular snorkelling. A day or 2 at Chumbe Island is a “must” for serious snorkellers.
Sailing is limited and provided only at some of the larger “resort” style hotels. However, many hotels arrange for guests to go sailing with local fisherman in their “ngalawas”.
Swim with Dolphin Trips These take place primarily at the south of the island. These can be booked by your hotel or direct with local operators. Hotels on the south coast have their own boats for dolphin trips.
We feel that a very satisfying excursion is provided by Safari Blue, a large operation but extremely well organised, full day including snorkelling and seafood lunch on an island. Be careful however, there are other operators using similar names such as Blue Safaris. Remember, dolphins are fickle mammals and sightings can not be guaranteed.
Dhow Excursions Arranged locally and take place primarily at the north of the island in Nungwi village, or in Stone Town visiting the islands and sandbanks off Town.
For day long dhow safaris off Town, sunset evening cruises, or sunset cruise with dinner at Mtoni Marine Centre best to book with the very reputable One Ocean Dive Centre.
Kite Surfing Kite surfing has now become popular both on the south east coast and the north coast. Please let us know if you would like more information.
Spice Tour Known as “The Spice Island”, an incredibly wide range of spices are grown on Zanzibar. I have done a tour 3 times and learn something new each time. You can book a spice tour through your hotel.
Our agent on Zanzibar also does spice tours and this works well during your transfer to/from the north or north east coast.
Stone Town Tour Visit the inner sanctums of Stone Town, the Persian Baths, the Portuguese Fort, the markets, the Slave Chambers and “whipping pole” on the site of the Anglican Cathedral, the house of Tip Tipu, the last slave merchant. Book with your hotel, or with our agent.
Museums The museum at The House of Wonders (the former Sultans Ceremonial Palace and HQ of British administrators – they would choose the best location!) is a very worthwhile experience, well laid-out an very informative about the history and culture of Zanzibar. Allow at least 2 hours. Next door you can visit the Sultans Palace, now known as The Peoples Palace, crumbling a bit but kept as they left it in 1964. There is an Anthropological Museum near the Law Courts.
Jozani Forest Jozani Forest is home to the indigenous Red Colobus Monkey, and have a guided walk through the extensive mangrove forest.
Book with your hotel, or it works well to stop at the forest on a transfer to/from hotels on the south east coast.
Mtoni Palace and Princess Salme The true story of Princess Salme is fascinating and someday will be made in to an intriguing film – probably Meryl Streep in the lead role?
Princess Salme was the daughter of one of the Sultans of Oman (who ruled that country from Zanzibar), eloped with a German merchant, became Emily Ruete and published her memoirs “Memoirs of an Arabian Princess”.
Visit the remains of the palace where she lived, have a day long excursion with spice tour, attend an evening concert in the palace ruins. Stefanie and her team are doing a great job at restoring the palace.
See www.mtoni.com/palaceruins.html to see what is offered.
Village Cultural Tours These are well developed in the village of Jambiani on the south east coast.
Nungwi village at the north of the island and hotels on the south coast arrange tours of Kizimkazi village and Fumba village.
Zanzibar means of transport you can either walk, used public transport(dalla dalla, private vans and taxis or hire a bicycle and visit the New Town of Zanzibar where the majority of the population of Zanzibar live. Here you will see the real Zanzibar as it is today. See the “dhukas” selling coconuts, cosmetics, car clutches, silk saris, samosas and safron oil. Roadside tailors, carpenters, metal workers and mechanics, among dozens more type of artisans ply their trade.