Explore Stone Town
Exploring the narrow alleyways of Africa’s most atmospheric town is one of the most fascinating things to do on the archipelago.
Stone Town is the only functioning historical town left in East Africa, and has been declared a UNESCO heritage site. The town is mainly made up of multi-story blocks built in coral, the most striking external feature being the elaborately carved wooden doors.
Crammed with cultural history, Stone Town has a number of sights rich in local culture, worthwhile seeing and that travellers should not miss visiting.
By day, the Forodhani Gardens are characterised with walkways, a children’s playground and a restaurant; while at night this lovely park spectacularly comes alive with a popular open-air food street market.
Food vendors present a lavish spread of cooked seafood with a selection of local cuisine side dishes, washed down with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. Certainly the best place to eat out in Stone Town, brimming with atmosphere and well worth a visit.
Long lazy days relaxing on white powder-soft beaches fringed by coconut palmed shorelines and warm turquoise water is what allures many travellers to the archipelago of Zanzibar.
Without a doubt, the entire coastline along Zanzibar offers exceptional beach destinations, however, a few marginally stand out above the rest. Matemwe beach for its powdery white sands and village life; Kendwa beach for it’s wide beaches and swimmable waters around the clock; Pongwe beach for its crystal clear water and lack of crowds and Jambiani beach for the ethereal turquoise shades of its waters.
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
Snorkelling and scuba diving is an activity not to be missed by anyone visiting the archipelago of Zanzibar. With good visibility and a year round average water temperature of 27 degrees celsius, this area is reputed to have some of the best diving sites in the world.
Pristine coral reef structures around Zanzibar and Pemba ensure marine life is abundant, and several dive centres on the islands run courses using international PADI system of diver education.
Mnemba Atoll with its enormous shallow expanse of coral reef is both a diving and snorkeling site considered a favourite among all the favourites.
Attend a Festival
Zanzibar offers a variety of festivals throughout the calendar year, ranging from a film festival, to several music festivals, some traditional events, fashion shows and the popular bull fighting on Pemba Island.
Each festival is well worth attending to visitors in the vicinity, with some festivals gaining an increasing international prominence with each passing year.
Among the most popular festivals are Stone Town’s annual Zanzibar International Film Festival, East Africa’s largest cultural event; and Sauti za Busara Festival, East Africa’s best and most exciting music festival.
Book a Day Tour
A diverse selection of Day Tours are available to visitors which can be booked at any local tour operator and through most hotels.
Generally departing from Stone Town, any chosen day tour offers a worthwhile excursion and a memorable Zanzibari experience. These include a Spice Tour, Stone Town City Tour, Chumbe Island Boat Trip, Local Game Fishing, Deep Sea Fishing, Jozani Forest Tour, Sandbank Picnic, Sunset Dhow Cruise, Unguja Ukuu Boat Trip, Prison Island Tour, Cultural Day Tours, Safari Blue and a Dolphin Tour.
Shop for Souvenirs
Gizenga Street in Stone Town, lined with it’s small shops and craft dealers is a shopping oasis for tourists offering a variety of attractive souvenirs visitors can take home with them. Bargaining is an integral part of the shopping experience, so take your time when haggling a price.
Items to seek out include locally woven kangas or kitengas (colourful cotton wraps worn by Zanzibari women), finely crafted Zanzibari chests, tingatinga paintings, spices, Zanzibar coffee, essential oils, maasai spears, bao boards, maasai beaded jewellery, traditional crafts and the ever growing ‘made in Zanzibar’ brands.
*Image of Ethnic women on the beautiful beach on the Zanzibar island via Shutterstock
*Image of Rock Restaurant over the sea in Zanzibar via Shutterstock