Zanzibar beach holiday offers a chance to immerse yourself in a heady mix of palm-fringed beaches, turquoise seas and a melting pot of exotic cultures. Lying off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is a romantic Indian Ocean island paradise that is still relatively untouched. It’s the largest coral island off the shores of Africa and is famous for its centuries-old sailing dhows, ornately carved wooden doors and the scent of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg – hence its nickname, the ‘Spice Island’.
Stone Town is the old part and the main city of Zanzibar, the former capital of Zanzibar Sultanate, a flourishing centre of the spice trade. Stonetown is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, giving a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. For this reason, the town is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. You will marvel at the Stone Town doors, and historical artefacts documenting the turbulent past of the island nation, tiny yet a key player in the old-world trade route.
Nungwi marks the northernmost tip of Zanzibar and is the second or third-largest settlement on the island. Surrounded on three sides by a turquoise-blue ocean, Nungwi has long been a magnet for visitors seeking paradise. Nungwi was traditionally a fishing village and traditional boats dhow-building centre, now a popular tourist destination, recognized in CNN’s list of “100 best beaches of the world”.
Matemwe is a village on the northeastern coast of the island, beholding the longest beach in Zanzibar. Its economy is mostly based on seaweed farming and fishing. The village is the seat of an education project aimed at providing computer literacy to the population of the area, as well as the Dada (in Swahili: “sister”) cooperative that is intended to create job opportunities for Zanzibari women involving them in the processing and preparation of handmade cosmetics and food products that are sold in Stone Town.
Jambiani is a group of villages on an idyllic beach surrounded by a strong culture of seaweed with many farms scattered along the coast and employing 15,000 inhabitants, mainly women. The island of Zanzibar produces around 11,000 tonnes of seaweed a year, much of it from Jambiani sources. When walking on the beach, you will see many women working, collecting seaweed! A perfect backdrop for many photos.
Pemba is comparable to Zanzibar in size, but far more traditional in outlook, and visitor numbers here are tiny. Pemba is on a 30-minute flight northeast of Zanzibar Island.
Fumba in southwest Zanzibar, is a very laid-back and friendly corner of the island, with two good lodges, while offshore is the award-winning eco-resort on Chumbe Island.
Mnemba is offshore, the ultimate island lodge for those who can afford it. Dubbed the “Millionaire’s Island” Mnemba is wrapped by an oval reef (often referred to as the Mnemba Atoll), which has been declared a Marine Conservation Area.
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