Pristine white sand beaches, colorful coral reefs, endless spices, a varied culture and name that commands curiosity - Zanzibar is an East African island full of beautiful contrasts. I first learned about it several years ago. I flew stand by for over 24 hours from the US just to spend 3 or 4 days on the glorious island and essentially crashed the conference. Though extremely short, the experience left a major impression on me back. If like me you're a foodie, culture lover, and adventurer but still enjoy beautiful beaches you can relax on, Zanzibar is definitely for you. Read on to get some of my highlights and get inspiration for your own visit.
I started my adventures in Stone Town, where I spent about 4 days exploring the old town as well as planning a few day trips to a few nearby islands like Chumbe or Prison Island. Prison Island is known for being home to over a hundred gigantic tortoises that you can interact closely with, while Chumbe Island is a small private island known for its ecological innovation and exceptional coral reefs. Stone Town is also where I learned about so much about Zanzibar's history and culture here, so I highly recommend that spend some time here if you have the capacity.
Jambiani is on Zanzibar's east coast and was excellent for beautiful, quiet beaches that still had options for cultural experiences. When walking along the beach, I mostly encountered local men and boys playing football or women dressed in colorful fabrics also walking or in the water seaweed farming during low tide. I think Jambiani is a great area if you want to take it easy in one of the many cozy boutique hotels. My friend Yagazie and I stayed at Sharazad for about 3 days and had a fantastic time.
A stone's throw away from Jambiani, Paje is where you come to turn things up a few notches. It's famous for adventure activities like kitesurfing and beautiful white sandy beaches. The sand goes out as far as the eye can see during low tide and the way the turquoise water glitters in the afternoon is unlike anything I can properly describe. I have never seen a more beautiful beach in my life, making it one of my favorite parts of Zanzibar.
I then headed up to the northern part of the island in Nungwi for a bit of luxury and some once-in-a-lifetime underwater adventures. This is where most of the luxury resorts and isolated pristine white sand beaches are in Zanzibar. I would recommend about 2-3 days (or more!) to give you enough time to experience of the best activities the island has to offer. Definitely don’t miss out on a day trip to Baraka Natural Aquarium to swim with rescued and rehabilitated turtles that are accidentally caught up in fishermen's nets (I went two days in a row - I couldn't get enough). Since this is a natural pool, I again recommend going when the tides come in slightly so you can make the most of the experience. It was so surreal to be able to feed and be surrounded by these curious and gently creatures. Probably my favorite memory from the trip!