We visited Zanzibar for our honeymoon in June 2016 and wow did I under estimate the beauty we have right on our door step…
Here is a quick Zanzibar travel guide based on my experience.
Good things to know when traveling to Zanzibar,
-Accepted currency: USD or shillings
– Transacting: In the markets most prices are negotiable. Day tour prices are pretty standard when buying them through the hotel however the “beach boys” will give you a better price and negotiate. Something we found different to home in South Africa is that the hotels charge an additional 5% on card transactions, at home this is built in or at the cost of the establishment. I would recommend you use cash to save.
– Beach Boys: Beach boys, the local name for them is ‘Papasi’ the Swahili word for ticks. So what do they want? Most are friendly, definitely persistent and can be downright annoying. No matter how nice or how many times you say no, they will offer you everything under the sun to make a quick buck. We were advised to ignore them and so we did, some resorts offer exclusive stretches of beach where the beach boys are not aloud to enter.
– Travel documents: South Africans do not need a visa when traveling to Zanzibar.
– Medication: None required.
Top 5 things to do in Zanzibar
ONE || Visit Stone town
We enjoyed a guided tour of stone town, it was interesting to hear the rich cultural heritage of this small Island. Highlights of this tour were historic buildings with elaborately carved wooden doors shaded by balconies and verandas that line the narrow winding streets. The tour includes a visit to a Town Market “Darajani”, Slave Market, Sultan Palace, Old Fort etc.
Beautiful views from the roof top restaurants in Stone Town.
TWO || Full day Safari Blue tour
A full day excursion on locally made traditional sailing dhows. The bay has a number of uninhabited islands and sandbanks, and is frequented by humpback and bottlenose dolphins, which we saw – it was so exciting to see them up close. The tour includes the chance to go snorkeling and enjoy a great seafood lunch along with exotic fruits. The returning journey is by sail, if the wind permits. A truly relaxing day.
Delicious, fresh seafood lunch. With ALL the starches!
THREE || Spice to tour
Take part in one of Zanzibar’s most iconic experience during a spice tour of the Spice Island. Stationed along one of the world’s oldest trade routes, this picturesque destination is a melting pot of culture, cuisine, and flavors. Follow a guide through rural plantations and see where local staples such as clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are cultivated, grown and used to produce some of Africa’s most aromatic cuisine.
FOUR || Swimming with the turtles
Baraka’s Turtle Aquarium is a rehabilitation center for injured turtles nestled in a cave, this natural tidal pool is where you are able to swim and feed these amazing animals. This was by far one of the most magical experiences in my life! We had the tidal pool exclusively for 30 minutes, this however was total luck. I am told in season that it is very busy which is a pitty, you have to tread lightly in the pool to not disturb the sandy bottom, the more clear the water the more magical the experience. Most of the turtles at Baraka’s Turtle Aquarium are babies, turtles can live an average of 30 years and can weigh up to 180 kilograms, once rehabilitated they are put back into the wild.
They are so gentle and simply push past you to get the food in your other hand.
FIVE || Experience the beautiful beaches
With a tropical climate comes the most beautiful beaches with warm ocean water! The most picturesque setting to sip your cocktail and sun tan. One thing you do need to keep track of when enjoying these beautiful beaches is the dramatic tides. The whole island is under the influence of the Indian Ocean tides, caused by the effect of the moon’s gravity against the mass of the ocean. The difference between low and high tide can be of up to 1km, allowing a fascinating view of the fluctuating coastal ecosystem, which is beautiful to explore but be careful of the sea anemone!
Photos by Melissa Louise.