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  • Writer's pictureKatarina Zlatkovic

Zanzibar


Turquoise waters of Zanzibar

Jambo!


This is the first thing you'll hear when you land in the beautiful island of Zanzibar.

As I stepped my foot on this island, I knew it will be one of these places I'd like to come back to.

Turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees create a paradise like no other and I totally fell for its great cuisine, warm-hearted locals and stunning natural beauty.


I spent only a short amount of time in Zanzibar, definitely not enough for discovering all the great things this island has to offer, but as a first timer, I experienced a few things I'd like to share with you, in case you'll find it useful for your trip to Zanzibar.


Golden Hour In Zanzibar

Now let's start with some important things to know before visiting Zanzibar.


  • Most tourist visitors have to obtain a visa to enter Zanzibar, Tanzania. Visa can be purchased on arrival or online and it costs 50$ per person.

  • Best time to visit is from June to October, although, Zanzibar enjoys warm weather year-round.

  • Currency used is called Tanzanian Shillings and it is possible to exchange it on the airport, where they have an ATM too, in case you want to pull out some cash.

  • Zanzibar has a predominantly Muslim population and is important to respect their customs and traditions, so dress modestly especially when visiting local communities or sacred sites.

  • It is essential to drink bottled water, use mosquito repellent and take precautions against malaria.


Low Tide In Zanzibar


Now let's jump to the good stuff!


DAY 1


I took a direct flight from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Zanzibar, Tanzania and the flight was approximately 5 hours long.


The boutique hotel I stayed in has arranged a pickup on the airport, which was very convenient, considering there aren't many transportation options to and from the airport apart from few taxi cabs.


Staying in the small village called Kiwengwa that is located on the northeast coast, the ride from the airport took only one hour and since I arrived at sunrise, I enjoyed the scenery along the way.


Kiwengwa Beach Zanzibar

One thing about Zanzibar is that is so diverse in sense of the accommodation: there are luxury resorts, boutique hotels, and budget friendly hotels so it's almost impossible not to find a place you'd like to stay in.


My choice was Arya Boutique Resort and to be very honest, I was more than happy with it. It's located just few meters from the beach, surrounded by tall coconut and tropical trees, offering a peaceful atmosphere to wind down and let your worries go.

There are 5 boho designed bungalows to choose from, natural-style swimming pool and a SPA if you fancy a massage after the flight.


The incredibly warm and attentive staff made sure my every possible need is met and I absolutely enjoyed being spoiled by their kindness.


Arya Boutique Resort
Fresh Fruit Platter

After a delicious breakfast, I spent the day sunbathing on the Kiwengwa beach and swimming in the crystal-clear waters, admiring the beauty of the high and low tides, and chatting with locals. One thing I noticed immediately was how friendly everyone was and how much they enjoy playing sports on the beach.


There was plenty of small shops on the beach that were selling souvenirs and hand-made goods and trust me, it's impossible to miss them because there are Maasai's on the beach that are always inviting tourists to stop by the shop and take a look. They are not super pushy but there is just a lot of them, literally every 20 meters, one or two guys will approach you in a friendly manner to visit their shop.


The Maasai people are Nilotic ethnic group mainly inhabiting Kenya and Tanzania, and they are known for their distinctive customs and dress including their bright red clothing and beadwork.


Crystal Clear Waters In Zanzibar

There were a few of other beach restaurants and bars which was perfect opportunity for trying some local dishes and beers. I highly recommend having fresh seafood but also famous Zanzibar pizza. You'd be surprised by how many Italians live on the island so it's no wonder this dish is so popular in here.


Freshly grilled sea food

After a big, tasty, mouth-watering meal (and a few beers, not gonna lie), little walk by the beach under the stars was just what I needed to end this day.


DAY 2


Woke up super energized and ready to explore more of this splendid island.

I have heard a lot about Nungwi and Kendwa so I decided to spend the day by going to the north of the island where these two villages are located.


Resort was kind enough to organize the transportation which costed around 50$, which at first, I thought was a little expensive but then keeping in mind that the driver was waiting for me, I realized it is okay.


People were right saying that these are the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar, just try to imagine stunning turquoise beaches for as far as your eyes can see.


Nungwi Beach Zanzibar

On that note, being super popular destination on this island, Nungwi and Kendwa were so busy, and it seemed more of a party-like place surrounded by massive luxury resorts.


The vibe was very laid-back and relaxed, and I loved how everyone gathered around the beach to capture the sunset.


Nungwi Beach Resort Zanzibar
Nungwi Zanzibar Beer Relax

The weather was a bit gloomy at the afternoon, but it still didn't take away the chance of sky turning pastel purple, pink and blue. I remember thinking how it's been only two days since I arrived and yet I feel completely refreshed and rested.


Kendwa Beach Zanzibar Sunset

DAY 3 & 4


Being on the shore for two days and just absorbing the magic of the sun, salt and sea, my traveling feet were calling for a change. Once again, I booked a taxi through the resort, and I was on the way to the Stone Town.


Stone Town Welcome To Zanzibar

Arriving to Stone Town gave me a really strong historical and cultural vibes from the moment we entered the bustling streets where I could hear horns, people chatting and bargaining, prayer from the mosque in the background.

Locals of Stone Town

Now, let me tell you more about the magnificent Stone Town!


It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the stunning island of Zanzibar, few minutes away from the airport. It was the central trading hub in East Africa during the 19th Century and despite being conquered many times by outside powers such as Portuguese and Omani Arabs, Stone Town has been able to keep its importance.


Stone Town Sea Side

As I stepped into this labyrinthine city with so much of Arabian, Persian, Indian and European influences, I felt like I was transported back in time.


Streets of Stone Town Zanzibar

Walking through mazy streets holding over 1000 years of heritage and secrets, I could feel its power and character in the well-preserved buildings, museums and iconic sights.


Here is a list of some things I did in Stone Town and would highly recommend:


1. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site, taking a walking tour of the historic district to see the beautiful buildings with mixed architectural influences.


Mazy Streets of Stone Town

2. Visiting Freddie Mercury’s Birthplace (now Museum) and if you loved Bohemian Rhapsody movie, this activity is so for you! Entrance fee: 10$ per person.


Freddie Mercury Museum Stone Town

3. Taking a dhow cruise on a sunset in one of the traditional wooden sailing vessels that were used by Arab traders to sail across the Indian Ocean to East Africa. Tickets are approximately 30$ per person.


Dhow Cruise Stone Town

4. Exploring the St. Joseph's Cathedral that was built in between 1893 and 1898 by the French missionaries showing stunning example of Gothic architecture and is considered one of the most important historical buildings in Stone Town.


St Joseph's Cathedral Stone Town

5. Shop at Darajani Bazaar and try everything from tropical fruits, seafood and spices to colorful fabrics and prints.


Street Markets Stone Town

With its narrow winding streets, intricately carved wooden doors, and bustling markets, Stone Town is a treasure chest of history and culture waiting to be explored.


Most of the tourists either forget to visit Stone Town or leave it last on the bucket list of the best things to do in Zanzibar, but I was so glad I got to experience it at its finest.


Slow Down Pole Pole Zanzibar

DAY 5


As my final day, I planned to visit Paje which is another popular place with incredible beaches, but the weather was moody, and it rained a lot, so I decided to stay in Kiwengwa.


Unlike Nungwi with its huge resorts and hundreds of people on the beaches, Kiwengwa has just a few standalone restaurants and bars and honestly not that many tourists pick this specific place to stay. (Which made me happy because I prefer smaller, quiet places when I travel.)


Another thing that fascinated me was that during low tide, the beach extends 500m out to where the reef breaks. It’s incredible watching the tides come in and out twice a day.


Kiwengwa Beach Zanzibar Blue Water

I spent an entire day being cozy at the beach, curled up with a book while listening to the soothing sound of waves and rain both and just appreciating the pure simplicity of the nature.


There is something magical about the combination of gentle rain and crashing waves that make the serene ambience where all you have to do is just grab some tea and coffee and reconnect with yourself.


Walking on Kiwengwa Beach Zanzibar
Chill Beach Bar Zanzibar

Even though the day didn't go as I expected due to the weather conditions, I was happy it happened just the way it did.


It was already time to pack and slowly head back to Dubai.


On the way back I realized that I will be visiting Zanzibar again as there were still so many things to explore.


People usually go to Zanzibar to immerse themselves in underwater world by snorkeling and scuba diving and I think this is exactly what I will do next time, probably in Paje or Jambiani.


Until then, Hakuna Matata!


Girl Exploring Stone Town

Bonus Tip: Few useful phrases in Swahili that you might want to use if going to Zanzibar!


Useful Swahili Phrases



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