Zanzibar, also known as Unguja the main island which is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. 25 to 50 km away from the mainland in the Indian Ocean lies Unguja, the main island commonly called as Zanzibar. The small island is Pemba Island.
Zanzibar Island is a haven for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts. Explore its rich history from the historic site, The Stone Town, a World heritage site. Best known for its spices scent in the air and white sand beaches. December to February and June to October would be the best time to visit the place considering the climate.
Walk through the building date from 18th and 19th centuries and view how it takes you back to the culture of the trading days from different region. The architecture and urban structure of the building on the shoreline will give you an idea of how the trade between African and Asian was flourishing. The Stone Town of Zanzibar, trading town of East Africa is also marked by being the site where slave-trading was finally terminated.
Entrance Fee is $3 USD
Historical importance of Zanzibar does not stop in the Stone Town. The Old Anglican Church is one of the most famous Slave Monuments in the world. Known as the House of Wonders, Beit el Ajaib is one of the most prominent and magnificent structures in Zanzibar and is the first building in East Africa to have electricity and an electric elevator! Learn rich history and culture of Zanzibar from the House of Wonders Museum.
Entrance Fee is $5 USD
The Old Fort, also known as Arab Fort, is near to the House of Wonders is a very large structure with high walls and various Entrances. Two historic remains can be seen here as the Fort was built between 1698 and 1701 on the site of an Old Portuguese Church which was built back in 1598 and 1612. Reach the top of the fort and get a spectacular view of Zanzibar Harbor and the Indian Ocean.
The ruins of Maruhubi Palace named after its former owner, an Arab from the Al-Marhuby tribe. Built by Sultan Barghash, he used the palace to house his wife and up to 100 concubines, while he himself lived in a separate palace in Zanzibar Town. It was destroyed by a fire in 1899, leaving few remains.
The Old Indian Dispensary, known for its decorative of the old buildings, with ornate carved balconies, stucco work and stained-glass windows. It is a symbol of multi-cultural architecture and heritage of the Zanzibar Town.
The Kizimkazi Mosque is believed to be the oldest Islamic building on the East African coast, which is still in use today.
The Mangapwani Slave Chamber which is 20 kms north of Stone Town which was believed to be hiding place for slaves as the slave trade continued illegally for many years. Even after it was officially abolished in 1873.
The Persian Baths at Kidichi famous for its domed ceiling and Persian style architecture. The Palace Museum in Zanzibar dedicated to the history and lifestyle of the Sultans of Zanzibar. Livingstone House known for the European Explorers in Africa. The Roman Catholic cathedral of St. Joseph which was built by French Missionaries.
Why Visit Zanzibar without Diving and Snorkeling
Zanzibar is one of the best sites for underwater sports activities. Dive in Zanzibar for exploring ancient wrecks and to meet Whitetip reef sharks, dolphins, and hawksbill turtles. Changu Island, Mnemba Island and Bawe Island are the main islands for diving. But you can explore different sites to explore marine, reef, drift, and wreck dive. One should also carefully select the sites according to the experience level they have. Some sites are good for beginners like Tumbatu Island and others like Big Wall for experienced divers. Aquarium is considered as the most scenic dive sites in Mnemba Atoll and a perfect reef dive for beginners and snorkelers. The biggest attraction in Changu Island is the Giant Tortoise which was imported in 19th Century from Seychelles and a best place for Snorkeling to explore the marine life.
Check travelstart for a complete guide on diving in Zanzibar.
Must Visit Beach
One of the best beaches in Zanzibar is Nungwi Beach be it for beach fun or beach stay. North East beaches in Zanzibar is best known for its high-end accommodation. As it is the best beach, you can expect the crowd as well.
If you want to avoid crowd, then forget the North side and move to South. Paje, Jambiani, Bwejju and Pingwe would be a best. Jambiani beach also offer Snorkeling and great for sunbathing.
And do not miss the romantic Nakupenda Beach (Nakupenda in Swahili – I Love You). Relax in the Sun and go for a swim in the Turquoise water. Nakupenda is an amazing sand bank in the middle of the water. Make sure you go there in the morning, because it will be flooded by evening as it is a very small piece of sand.
Zanzibar for Wildlife
Jozani Forest, where you can see the most threatened species red Colobus Monkey that exist only in Zanzibar. If you are at Jambani, then you are just 15 minutes away from the national Park by Car. Jozani Forest is also known as Jozani Chwaka Bay National park is the only national Park in Zanzibar.
If you go by yourself, the entrance fee is 12,000 TZS ($7.30), and that includes a guide. If you are with a tour operator, then Jozani Forest will be in it. Zanzibar Butterfly Centre is on the way to the Forest if you are coming from Pete. Entrance Fee is around $5, visit the place only if you are very much into Butterflies.
If you want to get close to the animals, Cheetah’s Rock is for you. Founded in 2014, it started as s rescue center for wild animals now they provide tour and close interactions with animals with all the safety measures. You need to book it in advance, from any of the three listed options they have. They provide the transportation to the center for free from the place you stay.
Returning from Zanzibar without Spices
Way back then, Zanzibar earned the nick name as Spice Island. Zanzibar was the world’s biggest exporter of Cloves at that time and still famous for its clove, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, chili, and black pepper. You can go for a spice Tour for 25 USD per person and it includes Transfers from Stone Town, guide, lunch, fruit tasting, and water.
The Darjaani Market is the main market in The Stone Town and is the best place for you to buy the spices. And you can do that while on your visit to the Stone Town as it is located in the Darjaani Road.
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