Zanzibar is a dream beach destination with much to offer. An island with immense natural beauty and steeped in history, Zanzibar has plenty of attractions to occupy families, couples, adrenaline junkies and history buffs alike.
Whether you’re seeking sports, nature or culture, there’s something to keep everyone entertained in Zanzibar, from taking in the culture of Stone Town to a range of water-based activities.
Explore the rock pools when the tides turn and the waves retreat beyond the reefs. Your knowledgeable guide will explain the important role of coral and identify the colourful fish and other creatures in the marine ecosystem. Guests can also watch local seaweed farmers harvest their crop, which is sold around the world.
SEA TURTLES AT MNARANI AQUARIUM
Mnarani Aquarium, situated in Nungwi at the northern tip of Zanzibar, is a one-of-a-kind sanctuary for the endangered green sea turtle. Visit the sanctuary to take a dip in the sheltered lagoon and swim alongside these sea creatures for an experience you’ll never forget. While there, learn more about the programme for monitoring turtle nests and the rehabilitation of weak and injured hatchlings brought here from other parts of the island. Guests are encouraged to get involved with the community projects that bring awareness to this worthy cause.
MUYUNI BOAT AND SNORKELING TRIP
Get into the spirit of adventure as you head out in a traditional dhow to the secluded beaches of Muyuni, just a short boat ride away. Dive off the boat into clear blue waters, snorkelling and enjoying the warm Indian Ocean. Then rest on the pristine white sand and enjoy the cool breeze and warm sun before tucking into a delicious picnic.
Challenge yourself and have some fun learning how to stand-up paddleboard in the warm waters. With the help of an expert, you’ll be up on that board in no time.
MATEMWE VILLAGE TRIP
Visit a village on Zanzibar with a local guide and gain some insight into Swahili culture. Stop in at a school where you can take part in activities (like a game of football) with local children. Observe the routine of the seasoned fishermen, as they head out toward the horizon in their small wooden boats and return with bounty to sell at the local fish market.
For those not accustomed to aquatic sports, renting a kayak is a great way to explore the island by sea. Paddle hard and fast to discover new delights around the coastline of Zanzibar, or take a leisurely trip with a loved one and enjoy the view of the white-sand beaches as you bob gently on the waves.
SCUBA DIVING AND SNORKELING
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned scuba diver, there is a hidden world waiting to be discovered beneath the waves. The highly trained experts at One Ocean Dive Centre teach the fundamentals of scuba diving or can help you reach new levels. The clear waters and kilometres of pristine coral reefs around Zanzibar are bursting with marine life. Divers may even get to swim alongside pods of energetic and playful dolphins. If you want to get a peek beneath the water without the complications of scuba diving, grab a mask and flippers for a snorkelling adventure.
Ideal temperatures and tidal action make the Swahili coast a rewarding destination for deep-sea fishing. The Zanzibar-Pemba channel is home to six different types of billfish, putting it on the map for extreme fishing. There is also the opportunity to reel in trophies such as yellowfin tuna, dogtooth tuna, wahoo, king mackerel, barracuda, giant trevally and marlin.
Zanzibar has a host of exciting water sports for visitors to experience. Guests can kitesurf in clear, shallow waters or take to the skies and enjoy sweeping views of Nungwi and Kendwa beaches while parasailing. For adrenaline junkies, try your hand at hiring a jet ski and whizzing through the lagoons. Other adrenaline-boosting options include water-skiing, wakeboarding, knee boarding, banana boating and tubing. Many sports offer both group lessons or private classes, with all the equipment available for rent.
The iconic Zanzibari dhow hasn’t changed much over the past 1,000 years and the sight of its billowing white sails evokes feelings of romance and adventure. A gentle cruise inside the reef, with a loved one by your side and an experienced sailor at the helm, is a wonderful way to see more of the coast.
With all the exciting water sports, it’s easy to overlook the land-based activities Zanzibar has to offer. Mangroves, one of the few trees that can grow in saltwater, provide homes for bush babies, monkeys, bats and many species of birds; and timber for local inhabitants. Visitors on Zanzibar can learn more about the mangrove’s key role in the ecosystem or explore the sprawling forests by paddle board, all accompanied by a knowledgeable naturalist.
SUNSET CATAMARAN CRUISE
Celebrating a special occasion on the island? Enjoy a chilled glass of bubbly, a selection of snacks and a rhythmic soundtrack while gliding peacefully around lagoons and bays on a catamaran. Take a moment to breathe in the evening air and watch the colours of the sunset spread across the sky, as you toast to yet another magical day in Zanzibar.
Share a blissful moment in our beautiful spa surroundings. Book a couples massage and let the scents of cocoa butter, shea butter and the island’s famous clove oil relax your body and mind.
STONE TOWN AND PRISON ISLAND
Get to know the island’s historic sites with their unique melding of Arab, African and European influences. Explore Stone Town with its narrow alleyways, colourful markets and intricately carved wooden doors. Marvel at the different places of worship, all coexisting harmoniously. Visit the fascinating attractions such as the House of Wonders (once the sultan’s residence), the old fort and the Palace Museum.
Prison Island, with its tragic history, lies just 30 minutes away by boat. Once used to hold slaves on their way to foreign lands and later to quarantine people with yellow fever, today it is home to a colony of Aldabra giant tortoises, believed to have been brought over from the Seychelles in 1820. Lush forests provide beautiful walks — look out for birds, bats and butterflies, as well as the fabulous peacock strutting in the undergrowth.
Zanzibar has been key to the spice trade dating back to the 16th century, when exotic plants from India and South America were first cultivated here. The Spice Island still earns its nickname, with a crop of delicacies such as cinnamon, vanilla and cloves all grown on the island. A visit to a spice plantation offers visitors the chance to learn how some of the most popular spices are grown. Guests also learn about the traditional uses of plants and flowers such as the lipstick tree and the henna bush.
JOZANI FOREST TOUR
A mere 35 km drive from Stone Town, Jozani Forest is the island’s only national park and its largest wooded area. Years ago, it was said that leopards could be found walking in the shadow of the forest canopies. Today, Jozani is home to the striking red colobus and blue Sykes’ monkey.
A cooking class is the best way to discover first-hand what makes Zanzibari cuisine unique. Watch the chef prepare dishes with fresh seafood and local produce, and learn just how to mix spices for a delicious result that combines the flavours of Africa, India and the Middle East. Afterwards, enjoy the fruits of your labour. Sit back and enjoy a delicious meal.