The deeper I dive into planning my top secret trip to Kilimanjaro (stay tuned), the more I keep hearing about Zanzibar — the mellifluously named archipelago just off the eastern coast of Tanzania. Nicknamed The Island of Spice, this culturally dense paradise radiates a spirit that can call up the romantic explorer in anyone. Known for its dramatic beaches and checkered colonial history, Zanzibar inspires the kind of wanderlust that makes you think it’s the cinematic interlude your life story has been missing. And below are just a handful of obsessions one must try when they get there.
Pushing Your Limits
I’m all about doing native, crazy shit when you travel. Not only does it yield the best Instagram pics and make your dad lose even more hair, it also instills a confidence that never goes away. And in Zanzibar, there’s no better adrenaline rush than to learning how to kitesurf. Well known as a mecca for the sport, the beaches of Nungwi and Paje are filled with schools that will teach you how to let the wind sweep you off your feet. Trip Advisor has a comprehensive list of good places for lessons, but I’ve personally got my eye on Paje by Kite. It’s in a lively part of Paje, with its own hotel and the school happens to have free lessons for beginners this year!
If you’re not into soaring through the air, but the thrill of the aqua blue water still has an appeal, try staying in Manta Resort’s underwater room for a night. Floating just a short distance from the mainland accommodations, guests can enjoy a private stay with stunning views of the ocean at a humble four meters below the water’s surface.
Travel Back In Time
Since the Late Stone Age, Zanzibar has attracted the likes of explorers, admirers and power thirsty royals from around the world. Stone Town, the island’s oldest quarter, is laden with landmarks still dressed in the island’s history of oppression, revolution and inspiration. The town’s labyrinth of streets weave between palaces, internet cafes, open markets, old Portuguese forts and more. It’s a food lovers playground and shopaholic’s paradise, with over hundreds of boutiques, markets and street vendors to check out, with endless views of the sea in its backdrop.
Get Up Close Nature
People, your guilt-free, Sea World fantasy has finally arrived! Jump into the waters off the southern coast of the island near the Kizimkazi village and swim next to non-captive DOLPHINS! (Oh my God, I can’t believe this is a real thing. Tears of unfathomable happiness!) Most hotels offer tour deals that include transportation, but they warn that spotting the sea creatures is not always a guarantee. But it’s a pretty rare phenomena and totally worth the splurge if you’ve always dreamed of hugging one of the sea’s most intelligent creatures. (Though, I’m not sure you can hug them. Maybe just touch a fin in passing?)
On land, the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park will also give you good feels. The rainforest spans across 19 sq. miles of the island and is home to hundreds of unique species including the Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey. This open air park brings you up close and personal with all its animals and flora; where monkeys can leap just over your head and one of 50 native species of butterflies can land right on your left shoulder. It’s a magical place that brings over thousands of visitors a year to marvel at its wonders.
Have you ever been to Zanzibar? Share your favorite places below! And for native beauty traditions on the island, check out this awesome post from Around The World Beauty.