A penny for how many times I heard these words when I visited Zanzibar. Hakuna Matata Ya Zanzibar. Its a beautiful island where the anthem is no worries and relax. When we visited in August, the weather was beautiful. Probably just over 28 degrees, so it was nice enough to walk around and sit by the little cafes by the water and enjoy a cold glass of juice or the local favorite, the coconut drink.
It felt like a dream. Think blue water as far as the eye can see, and people so polite that you instantly feel at home. Our trip started off on the rocks because since August is quite a popular month, we nearly got booted off our booking from booking.com, but thankfully a word from the hotel manager saved the day. We stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton in Stone Town, a beautiful Arab – infused hotel in the center of the “hotspots” You can’t actually get to Double Tree by car. The car trail stops a little way and you have to get off and walk through the little windy paths for a minute or so on foot to get to the hotel. So quaint and I guess this adds to the character of the little town. If you go to Stone Town, you can literally walk just about anywhere you need to go and it doesn’t even feel like a hectic walk since there are so many shops with unique pieces that will distract you.
On arrival, we quickly made fast friends with our cab driver and asked for recommendations of places to go to eat, hang out at night and MUST-SEE’s. He was very helpful. I was specifically particular in requesting for a few “non – touristy” recommendations as well. When you have 5 days in a small town, you can pretty much feel like you have done everything there is to do within the first couple of days.
To sum up some things you must do if you ever go to Zanzibar:
Street Food: Definitely check out the Forozani night street food markets for a taste of the local delicacies. I would recommend you go easy with the sea food because, even though it is there in plenty, its not always fresh. Definitely definitely ask your hotel for a map of the town when you first get there and walk if you can. Its much nicer and you get to see the hidden gems scattered all over town. (Plus, its so small and trust me when I say you are throwing money away if you take a cab).
Dolphin Tours: We drove all the way to the East for the dolphin tour but didn’t make it in time. If you want to see the dolphins, try to make sure you are there by 7:30 am otherwise they swim out to the deeper waters to catch their meals. It was abit of a downer for us because we literally chased the dolphins over an hour and a half and kept catching sight of them but never got close enough to play or swim with these big guys.
Have some coffee: Zanzibar definitely has a rich culture and great coffee. Be careful to ask for the coffee un spiced if you want an ordinary coffee. Zanzibarian’s spice everything. If nothing else, the Arabs left them with the love of spices.
History, history history: If you are a history buff, like my husband, the old empires, castles and even Freddy Mercury’s place of birth, is all stuff to look forward to.
I spent most of my days with a book, lying by the water and sipping on wine or the odd cocktail and I’m already looking forward to returning there soon!
I can talk about the travel and safety recommendations separately, but for now, I’l leave you with dreams of deep blue water and Zanzibarian sunsets.
Until next time,