Zanzibar holidays are idyllic when booked as a beach break, but for the most well-rounded discovery of Tanzania a few nights on the beaches of the island is the perfect way to conclude a safari, or to relax after a summit of Kilimanjaro.
Lying just 35 kilometres offshore from Tanzania’s capital of Dar es Salaam, the Zanzibar Archipelago perfectly blends beautiful beaches, fascinating history, vibrant culture and fantastic watersports. The islands’ history dates back over 2,000 years, when travellers came to the East Coast of Africa from Persia, Oman and Portugal, bringing trade in the form of slavery and spices. The monsoon winds ensured that Zanzibar maintained a steady stream of commerce from China, India and Africa, in turn supplying the world with aromatic ingredients discovered as early as the eighth century. Sultans and merchants haggled over cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and coconuts, exports which still flourish to this day.
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Since the 1980s Zanzibar has become a destination for beach holidays, opening up to the West. Zanzibar holidays don’t just include picturesque beaches, however, as there’s plenty of culture to be found in the capital of Stone Town. The labyrinthine city is packed with bazaars and mosques, bringing with them an eclectic array of architectural styles from across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. No visit to Zanzibar is complete without spending a night or two exploring Stone Town’s Moorish arches and ornate doorways, relics from its past as a trading town – a guided city tour will help you make the most of the sights.
Zanzibar’s top draw, however, is certainly its beaches, with some of its east coast gems lauded as some of the finest in the world. For your own picture-postcard view, head to the long stretch of pillow- soft white sand between Nungwi and Chwaka. To see an undeveloped side of Zanzibar you’ll want to head to the island of Pemba, a lush, green oasis in the Indian Ocean surrounded by beaches and – blissfully – very few tourists.