When most Americans hear the word Zanzibar, they think Spice Island; that tropical paradise east of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. Visions of huge travel trunks complete with stickers from all destinations. It appears today as it did more than a century ago when famed missionary/explorer Dr. David Livingstone lived just before his last safari into deepest, darkest Africa. This is the place big game hunters of long ago would end their safaris. It’s not on the African mainland, so was it the pristine beaches that drew them away from the hot, sticky humid jungles?
One of our favorite beaches in this part of the world is Matemwe Beach. Children use the beach as their hang out just like kids do across the globe. And it serves good purpose as adults can keep a keen eye on them as they play all day in the sun. Most of the commerce is done along the beach area, with the exception of herbs and spices. And even those make their way here to get transported elsewhere in the world. Life seems stopped in time in Zanzibar.
As a matter of fact, you can walk down the streets and alleys of Stone Town, a world heritage site, and feel as if you’re in an old movie. Zanzibar is an island only 50 miles long, but full of variety. For instance, you can visit the ruins of the palaces created with “spice” wealth for the Sultans of Oman.
Once the eastern gateway to Africa, Zanzibar is home to the enchanted Jozani Forest, where curious red colobus monkeys are found. At Nungwi, on the northern shore, you can see boat builders, hewing out the same designs handed down to them centuries ago.
And, of course, miles and miles of the best beaches in this part of the world. The majority are along the East Coast, where the quaint fishing villages dot the landscape. The big secret hasn’t been told to the major resorts. You’ll find one or two along this Island paradise.
There are more than 30 beaches in Zanzibar with some of them so isolated, time has literally stood still. Waves lapping these brilliant shores for eons have hewn such an artistic pattern of natural beauty, we’re kind of glad they’re not that close to civilization.
Zanzibar’s coastline is mainly a shallow slope allowing lush coral build-ups and providing a natural home for thousands of marine animals. Because of its location, Zanzibar enjoys warm currents almost year-round. Perfect for spawning, you’ll see a wealth of life just beneath the surface.
The northeast coast is where you’ll find the unspoiled beaches of Matemwe. Nearby is the grand Mnemba Atoll, a prime dive site known world wide. Of course, snorkeling is unparalleled along the rock outcroppings of Zanzibars many beaches. Bring that underwater camera. Check out our extra report on Mnemba Island and Atoll. It’s out of this world!
Zanzibar’s climate is equatorial. Days are filled with sun, but some heavy rainfall occurs during April and May. Best months to visit are from July through March, with February and March the warmest months.