Tanzania’s most popular post-safari chill-out venue, Zanzibar is renowned for its beaches: palm-lined expanses of fine white sand that conform to every expectation of a tropical Indian Ocean idyll. But while it is best known as a beach destination, the ‘Spice Island’ also boasts a diversity of natural and cultural attractions to engage active travelers. These include snorkeling, diving and other watersports, as well as a wealth of historic sites documenting the island’s checkered past as a thousand-year-old center of maritime trade and fulcrum of Swahili culture.
Offshore coral reefs will dazzle snorkelers and divers with a kaleidoscopic swirl of different reef fish. The fortunate might also encounter the likes of marine turtles, dolphins and whale-sharks.
The atmospheric alleys of Zanzibar’s ancient Stone Town are lined with historic multi-storey buildings, many now converted to boutique hotels. Out-of-town historic sites range from a 900-year-old mosque at Kizimkazi to the handsome Mtoni Palace built for Sultan Said in 1840.
Informative and interactive Spice Tours offer visitors the opportunity to explore the extensive clove and other plantations of the Zanzibari interior.
Boasting perhaps the most sophisticated culinary scene in East Africa, Zanzibar is renowned for its excellent seafood and spicy traditional Swahili fare.
Guided walks through Jozani Forest reliably offer close-up encounters with the Zanzibar red colobus, a delightful endemic monkey notable for its heroically disheveled hairstyle.
Stone Town is the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, and a museum dedicated to the flamboyant Queen vocalist and his childhood on Zanzibar has established itself as a ‘must visit’ since opening there in 2019.