Visit Zanzibar off-the-beaten-path
There are so many incredible places on “spice island”
The small spice island of Zanzibar is a pretty major tourist highlight for anyone travelling through East Africa. I’m guessing that half of the people reading this post have either been there already or are planning on going one day. I happen to know for a fact that Zanzibar is one of Where Sidewalks End‘s creative director, Ian Ord’s, favourite places in the world. As I am currently living here, I have to agree with him, this place is a gem.
It’s funny that touristy places often deter the backpacker or the seasoned traveller. I believe the idea here is to avoid other tourists, you know the cheesy tourists with their fanny-packs, giant cameras, Hawaiian shirts, and guide books. However, at the same time, I think that touristy places are touristy for a reason and often well worth a visit. Most of the classic travel highlights I have been to in the past are pretty incredible and often leave me speechless, even if I’m standing with a crowd of other international guests. Mi Pi, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, or Mount Kilimanjaro would be some perfect examples.
Zanzibar is no different. It is a popular location, and with good reason. The island is home to some of the best beaches in East Africa. There is great diving and snorkelling, alongside kitesurfing and windsurfing. Zanzibar has incredible history and architecture, with many boutique hotels. The “spice island” is known for its spice farms and agriculture, delicious restaurants. Best of all, there are many hidden gems found within.
The South East coast of Zanzibar is what I would call a hidden gem. It is home to a number of small coastal fishing villages with average populations of about 500 inhabitants each. It fits the “Pole Pole” & “Hamna Shida” Tanzanian atmosphere to a T. People here move with the pace of the tides, not by the hours in the day. Often the miles of deserted beaches are specked with the odd group of women harvesting seaweed during low tide, or the occasional kitesurfer off in the distance. It is a true material paradise, with beautiful white sand, a shallow crystal clear lagoon, and an eventual drop off of an incredible slopping coral reef into the depths of the ocean below.
SEE – Photos & Videos
GO – Getting There
Once in Zanzibar there are a number of ways of getting around the island. It’s not huge, but it’s not tiny either. Some of your best, cheapest options are by use of public transportation and bus companies, though for the more brave, you can rent motorcycles or cars. Traffic is not terrible around the island, though it can be a bit more challenging in the cities, such as Stone Town.
Do – Activities & Attractions
Stay – Accommodation
The coast also happens to be lined with beautiful small resorts and boutique hotels. It has quickly become my favourite spot to explore on the island. So far I have come across three beautiful small resort/resto/bars to lay low at and chill out for a weekend. They are so good I often find myself returning, being blessed with beautiful sunshine, incredible food and good friends. Not to mention the only noise being the waves lapping lazily against the carpet of white sand before my feet and a light wind blowing the palms above my head. Paradise, found. Take a look for yourself.
Baby Bush: http://www.bbzanzibar.com/
Paje by Night: http://www.pajebynight.com/
Eat – Restaurants
Time – Seasonality & Schedules
This plays a pretty major role when visiting the small spice island. April – July is considered the rainy season, to a certain extent (it is hard to determine international travel based on perspective weather patterns). However these months have proven to hold the majority of annual rainfall in the past. I would say the best time to visit Zanzibar is during the side seasons of August/September or February/March. This is when you will have the good weather without the incessant crowds, keeping in mind that Zanzibar does have a pretty consistent tourist population. Either way, it is an awesome location and one not to be missed any time of year!
Safety – Possible risks
Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.
Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.
Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).
Pay – How much does it cost?
You can get by in Zanzibar on about $50 USD per day pretty easily. There are up market locations of you are looking for a treat, however most travellers stay at guest houses ranging from $10-20 per night, with transport, meals and beers taking up the additional $30 of the days budget. The Tanzanian Shilling notes are pretty cool looking too!
Responsible Travel – Best Practices
Reality Check – Be Aware
The number of tourists visiting the Zanzibar has been significantly increasing since 2005. Last year there was an average of 200,000 visitors and this year that number is expected to be surpassed. Most people travelling to this small island often visit Stone Town, go on a spice tour, and head to the beautiful beaches of the north. To be honest, there are many incredible small towns and communities surrounding the island, however this post happens to be about my favourite, so I will stick to that for now.
If you get the chance to visit Zanzibar anytime soon, be sure to check out the South East Coast. You won’t regret it!
JOIN US! WSE Travel Packages
This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!
Follow this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.
Please feel free to share your stories and thoughts in the comment section below!