he heart of Zanzibar, Stone Town, was constructed during the 19th century: a labyrinth of narrow alleys complete with palaces, mosques, and tiny shops. It’s noisy, busy and not very clean – but it has a vibrant, exotic atmosphere that can be enticing! Stay here for a night or two – it’s often convenient for international flights – at one of the beautiful converted merchant’s houses, and look forward to eating out.
Two or three hours drive from Stone Town, the village of Nungwi marks the northern-most tip of Zanzibar. The turquoise-blue ocean surrounds it on three sides; Nungwi has long been a magnet for visitors seeking paradise. Come for some good diving and beaches, and proximity to a lively village where there’s always a lot going on.
The northern part of east coast Zanzibar is lined with long, powder-white beaches. We’ve included the pick of the small resorts here; all quite different – although their beaches are similar! Offshore you’re find the magical Mnemba Island – the ultimate island lodge for those who can afford it!
South along the east coast of Zanzibar and the beach remains stunning: powder-white sand with a barrier reef, lots of palm trees and a significant tidal range. The villages become a little sleepier and more relaxed as you head south, and Jambiani, in particular, is very relaxed indeed. For an authentic visit to a friendly village, you can’t beat it.
Fumba Peninsula is south of Stone Town. Like the southeast of Zanzibar, this is a very relaxed and friendly corner of the island which has seen few visitors. There are two good lodges here –– whilst offshore is the award-winning eco-resort on Chumbe Island.
Although not part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, the neighbouring Mafia Archipelago is a group of equally magical Indian Ocean islands, just south of Zanzibar – which has just a handful of small lodges. These are more remote, and quieter, than many places on Zanzibar – and the diving and snorkelling are generally better here.
Pemba is a 30-minute flight northeast of Zanzibar. Though comparable in size, its economy is largely rural and agricultural. It’s almost exclusively Muslim, with a people who are more traditional in their occupations, and more conservative in their approach.