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Located off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an archipelago consisting of two big islands (Zanzibar Island and Pemba Island) and many smaller ones. It is a semi-autonomous territory of Tanzania, so it has its own government comprised of Revolutionary Council and House of Representatives. In terms of governmental body, Zanzibar used to be heavily influenced by the British government, but it ended in December 1963 when the U.K. made provision for self-government.

From the perspective of international tourism, there is no place like Zanzibar. The place, especially the popular Stone Town, showcases a good mix of historical influences from African mainland, Europe, Indian subcontinent, and Arabian Peninsula. When you think of beaches and international tourism, the first destinations that come to mind are probably Hawaii, Bali, or Cabo San Lucas, while Zanzibar is more often than not overlooked. In reality, Zanzibar offers some of the best stretches of sands in the world. Once you get there, the access to the beaches is an easy drive; beaches are within close proximity to each other as well:

  • On the southeast, the beach delivers sights after sights of dolphins offshore
  • On the west, there is an undisturbed coral garden to refresh your eyes
  • East coast delivers the hub for you to have parties and fun surf; community-minded people also live in villages here
  • On the northern area, beaches are sprinkled with bars and plenty of tourist activity centers. If there is one place that comes close, it is probably paradise


Please understand that some (if not many) of the destinations all across Zanzibar are community resources, which are still fragile and under development. You cannot do anything you want here, but this is where you can really appreciate and learn about the nature while having a real treat.

Regardless of which part of the beach you are in, you’ll be able to stretch out on daybed or sleep in a hammock just like what you see for too many times on TV. You may think everything is made up or computer-generated graphics designed to fool your eyes, but they are real in Zanzibar beaches. To give you a better picture, the experience strikes not only on your relaxed body but also on your senses with the smell of tropical fruits flying to your nose. Tropical sunlight and the aroma of organic coconut will bathe you with peace and health. Even when the tide of Indian Ocean goes out, the treat is not over as you can still witness small marine creatures on the shore while you are walking on the natural pools.

Stone Town of Zanzibar

Apart from the beaches, Zanzibar really shines its beacon thanks to the Stone Town. Having long history as a trading town, reminiscence of urban living shaped by the cultures of Africa, Arab, India, and Europe is strong. As a matter of fact, many of the physical remembrances remain intact. Most of the architectural styles are still the same as they have always been for more than a thousand years.

The inner city of Stone Town is one of UNESCO Word Heritage Sites, mainly because of its unique blend of architectural styles. Inner city is pretty small, and the best way to explore its beauty is by foot. If you are willing to spend a day walking through the small alleys, you’ll be mesmerized by how complex it was a millennium ago. It is like a labyrinth that consists of historic buildings. Some of the old places have been converted into functional modern-day businesses such as restaurants, hotels, clubs, and even boutiques. Nevertheless, there are still plenty to see and learn in Stone Town. One thing to remember about Stone Town is that it is located in the equator region; during dry season, the sun can be too overwhelming to deal with. One of the best things is that you have so many stores to visit where you can purchase souvenirs or have a refreshing drink to cool down the heat.

Do not forget to make time for the House Wonders. There is nothing spectacular about the house, but it was the first house in Stone Town to have an elevator, running water, and basically electricity. Another place worth highlighting is the Former Slave Market. As the name suggests, it was used in the old days for slave trading activities. There are two chambers: one for about 50 men and another for 75 women and children. While they are known as chambers, in reality they are more like dungeon cells.

As you continue walking and reach the waterfront, be prepared to meet with many locals offering you music entertainment, taxi, gifts, tours, and what have you. The best thing to do is just keep walking without giving any verbal response. Make sure you reach the residential area before you take a rest to avoid the same distraction.

First you go to the beaches, wander around the Stone Town, and usually you will end up in the beach again, Instead of lying around on your hammock and do the same exact things you did earlier, you may want to consider surfing. The Southeast Coast surfing is increasingly popular in Zanzibar, and there are plenty of surf shops where you can rent the equipment. Best thing of them all: the coast is quiet, water is crystal clear, the reefs are flat, and all are beginner-friendly. Please make sure you have knowledgeable instructor for surfing; even if the coast is friendly-enough, some sections have too many sea urchins to be considered safe.


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