A Guide to Beautiful Zanzibar – Tropical Beach Paradise

The soft white sand crunched beneath my toes as I looked out to the Indian Ocean. The sky was filled with pastel pinks smudged across the horizon.

The Zanzibar Archipelago is made up of several islands off the coast of East Africa.

Its main island, commonly known as Zanzibar, is adorned with beautiful beaches and rich ancient culture.

This gorgeous hunk of paradise made for the perfect stop off for a bit of post-safari relaxation after an incredible two days exploring the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

Yes! ‘Twas mind blowing. Save and Go! And the best news of all? Now is the time to visit… à mon avis.

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Nungwi Beach Zanzibar
Showing off the palms at Nungwi Beach Zanzibar

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Zanzibar is the perfect escape for the more adventurous beachgoer.

Now is the perfect time to visit, while its towns and beaches remain unspoilt by mass tourism.

Doha boats in Zanzibar
Beautiful Doha boats, beautiful Zanzibar

The island has been steadily increasing in popularity as a paradisiac getaway, where Doha boats speckle the ocean and palm trees stretch across the entire region.

Over the last decade, tourism has more than doubled on the island, formally known as Unguja.

Yet the region remains beautifully authentic, with lots to discover and pockets of luxury for those who seek it.

Fishing boats and nets at Zanzibar beach
Fishing boats and fisherman’s nets at Nungwi Beach in Zanzibar

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Top things to do in Zanzibar…

Zanzibar’s main island stretches more than 50 miles, or 83km, offering plenty to explore.

When you are not sipping on cocktails or paddling along the shore, hire a vehicle or join a tour and enjoy what Zanzibar is most famous for…

beach walks at Nungwi Beach Zanzibar
Taking a stroll along Nungwi Beach. It really is this sparse and tranquil

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Feed your Culture Vulture in Stone Town 

This small ancient city has plenty on offer, including the home of Freddie Mercury!

Yep, that’s right folks, the Queen singing legend was born in Zanzibar and lived in a few humble abodes across Stone Town.

After the oh-so-necessary selfie with Freddie Mercury’s house, you’re ready to explore the town centre.

Shop for trinkets in its labyrinth of brightly coloured stalls by day and gorge on delicious street food by the waterfront by night.  

Freddie Mercury's House Stone Town Zanzibar
My bestie and I outside Freddie Mercury’s House on Zanzibar Island ❤
Vintage shots Stone Town Zanzibar
Scooter aficionado. A bit of vintage at Zanzibar’s Stone Town
Side streets central Stone Town Zanzibar
Typical side streets in Zanzibar’s Stone Town

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Relax, party and play at Nungwi Beach

Sprawled across the north coast of Zanzibar, Nungwi Beach is a place of pink sunsets and intimate beach parties.

Some of my favourite memories were made here, playing football and beach volleyball with the locals and sand dancing under the stars ❤ 

We kicked the sand, jumped in circles and waved our hands in the darkness under the starry night sky.

Its shores are blessed with soft white sands and clear blue waters, perfect for escaping the warm weather.

There are also lots of beach bars and restaurants on stilts which you can access via secret passageways when they get swallowed up by the ocean at night. 

Beach bars in Zanzibar
Beach bars on stilts
Things to do at Nungwi Beach in Zanzibar
Local village behind Nungwi Beach
Beach football Zanzibar
Playing football with the locals at Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar

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Liven up your tastebuds on a Spice Tour

This has to be another standout experience for me during my time in Zanzibar, also known as the Spice Island.

Touch, see, smell and taste the exotic herbs and spices growing on an organic farm in Zanzibar.

Smear natural red lipstick across your lips using tropical fruits from Zanzibar’s achiote trees, also used for industrial food colouring and traditionally as body paint.

Most tours include a delicious meal made with incredible, fresh spices from the farm and prepared onsite in a traditional Zanzibari home. A highlight for sure.

We were even given the chance to try our luck at climbing a coconut tree before dinner which – for the record – is MUCH harder than it looks!

Spice Tour which includes a meal
Dinner at the end of Zanzibar’s famous Spice Tour
Plant used for natural lipstick in Zanzibar
Natural lipstick from Zanzibar’s Achiote Trees
Best Spice Tours that include lunch in Zanzibar
Sitting down for dinner at a traditional Zanzibari house at the end of our Spice Tour
Zanzibar Spice Tour Stone Town
Live demonstration during our Zanzibar Spice Tour

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Go Underwater at Jambiani Beach

Jambiani beach is an authentic fishing village, said to be the less touristy part of Zanzibar.

The action-packed coastline is highly praised by adventure seekers and offers snorkelling, diving, kitesurfing and fishing.

At low tide I’m told you can stroll for hours along Jambiani beach while at high tide, you can practically swim out of your hotel.

Sadly, I did not get the chance to explore this part of the island before heading down to  my next stop in Malawi.

Nungwi beach feet in water
Paddling on the shores of Zanzibar

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Hop over to Prison Island

Take a day tour to Prison Island on a traditional wooden boat where you can check out Zanzibar’s giant tortoise population, with a spot of snorkelling along the way.

Officially known as Changuu Island, the journey is just 30 minutes by boat from Stone Town and ours included a tasty picnic with samosas and other local snacks.

The island was previously owned by Arabs and intended as a place to keep slaves. But the area became a quarantine station during outbreaks of yellow fever.

Boat trip to Prison Island Zanzibar
Boat trip to Prison Island Zanzibar
Things to do Prison Island Zanzibar
Prison Island
Giant tortoise Prison Island
Prison Island’s giant tortoises
Things to do in Zanzibar
Prison Island Zanzibar

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How to get to Zanzibar

Touch down in Zanzibar via the island’s main airport, Abeid Amani Karume Internaional, with flights from East Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

There is also a regular ferry service from mainland Tanzania which departs from Dar Es Salaam.

The modern three-tier boats offer a selection of coffee and treats and chapatis on board during the two-hour journey. But be prepared for a rocky ride – the waters can be pretty choppy.

Wherever you stay in Zanzibar, you will likely receive a warm welcome from locals who are keen to introduce themselves and hear your stories.

The island is easily navigable, whether you opt to hire a car, use local buses or travel with a local tour operator.

Beautiful beaches in Tanzania
The Tanzanian beach where we stayed before catching the ferry to Zanzibar
Stone Town Zanzibar
Stone Town Riviera
Beautiful beaches in Tanzania
Beach near Dar Es Salaam – a good stop off before catching the ferry to Zanzibar

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Where to stay in Zanzibar

Zanzibar’s charming Stone Town capital and stylish beach resorts offer a colourful mix of accommodation, from designer hotels to rickety old guesthouses.

Planning a stay at Nungwi Beach? Z Hotel offers style and comfort, with its candlelit walkways, roof top bar and infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

We opted to stay at the Nungwi Inn Hotel, right next door, and were still able to enjoy the delicious cocktails at Z Hotel’s rooftop bar  #Travelsmart 

Our chalet room looked out to sea, offering an excellent location with clean and comfortable rooms for an affordable price. All my favourite things!

Best hotels in Zanzibar
Z Hotel infinity pool
Zanzibar hotels beach hotels
Z Hotel Rooftop bar
Best hotels in Nungwi Beach
Ocean views at Z Hotel

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In Stone Town, I enjoyed a few nights at the Stone Town View Inn for just $20 per night for a double room.

The typical Zanzibari guesthouse had a nice, rustic feel and was just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre and ferry port.

If you’re looking for something a bit more special, I’ve heard great things about the Tembo House Hotel.

The guesthouse has a great beachfront location with rooms offering gorgeous four-poster beds which overlook the water ❤ 

Stone Town hotels
Stone Town View Inn

For more information about the specific regions of Zanzibar, get in touch or check out one of my more tailored guides coming sooooooon.

I hope you enjoyed following my trip to Zanzibar and found something useful to take away.

Until next time, 

Laura x

Instagram shots Zanzibar

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