Beaches & Attractions
Zanzibar is the ideal choice for a holiday with a difference, fabulous all but empty coral white beaches, lush vegetation with a huge variety of fauna and flora, and unique species of monkey and birds, a true paradise Island retaining many of the charms of yesteryear. Most tourists are drawn to the Island of Zanzibar by the promise of pristine beaches all of beautiful white sand and glorious blue skies and for those they will not leave the island disappointed, so let’s take a look at some of the best beaches to be had and later on other popular attractions.
Beaches in Zanzibar
There are over 30 beaches to be enjoyed on the island and most of these are to be found on the Eastern and Northern parts of the Island. The beaches are far less crowded than many other popular resort destinations around the world, a real Robinson Crusoe feeling. Of particular note are the following: Located in the North West of the island is Kendwa Beach unspoilt by major development this beautiful white beach gently drops into the azure sea looking out towards Tumbatu Island. Located in the North East is Matemwe Village and its expansive white beach, it’s become more popular in recent times and like many of the beaches on Zanzibar there is a large tidal range meaning the beach becomes incredibly vast at low tide and is superb for long walks. Pongwe Beach situated on the east of the island is probably the finest on the island with its huge flat expanse of coral white sands leading out towards the barrier reef. Head to the South and seek out Kizimkazi for total seclusion, this area is yet to be developed but provides some amazing snorkeling and diving. There are many more beaches offering great watersport activities such as Mangapwani, Uroa, Nungwi, and Pwani Mchangani the list is extensive and will fulfill any beachcombers dream. There is much to see and do when you have finished with the glorious beaches, scuba diving, beach volleyball, swimming etc...keep reading!
You must pay a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town when in Zanzibar it’s a town locked in a time warp and a fantastic place to explore. Some of the major attractions include the Old Fort constructed around 1700 and steeped in history this truly is a wonderful attraction. Today it is a cultural centre offering classes in henna painting, cooking, music performances, drumming and open air theatre. It’s also a good place to purchase your souvenirs of the island with many shops found within its walls. There is a large Anglican Cathedral located on the spot of the islands largest slave market, constructed in 1873 it is an imposing building and one not to be missed. Other places of interest include Malindi Mosque built by the Sunni sect with its unusual conical minaret one of only three to be found in East Africa, Darajani Bazaar a fun place to barter for some souvenir’s, The beautifully restored Hamamni Persian baths dating back to 1880 and Kilele Square once the site of a large slave market but today surrounded by many important consulate buildings.
Mtoni and Maruhubi Palace Ruins
Located a short distance from Stone Town are the ruins of Mtoni and Maruhubi Palaces, Mtoni Palace was constructed by Sultan Said bin Sultan in 1828 and it took six years to complete, it’s a peaceful and tranquil location. The Maruhubi Palace constructed in the 1880’s by Sultan Bargash was used as a harem for the Sultans wife and 99 concubines and was one of the most ornately decorated buildings of its time. The building constructed mainly out of wood was devastated by fire in 1889 and left in ruins. Today you can see the remnants of some huge stone columns used to support the large wooden balcony which ran around the upper floor of the palace. In the remains of the Old Persian Bathroom you can clearly see the separate bathing areas for the women and the sultans’ large bathroom. The water reservoirs used for the palace complex are overgrown with lilies and mango trees imported from India. There is a lovely beach hidden behind the palace which is used by the local fisherman as a harbour and a place to repair their dhows.
Jozani Chwaka Bay Conservation Area
To get away from the heat of town or the sun drenched beaches head for the cool woodland of the islands largest conservation area, a nature lovers paradise and one not to be missed. Zanzibar’s once expansive forests have sadly been largely destroyed by firewood collection, lime and charcoal making and large scale cultivation but the Jozani Chwaka Bay Conservation Area has been set up to protect the remaining forest. This is an outstanding area of natural beauty containing over 100 different species of trees, and a rich diversity of birdlife and a plethora of small wildlife. Many tourist visit to see the endangered indigenous Red Columbus Monkey whose numbers have dwindled to fewer than 1500.
When slavery was outlawed in 1897 this despicable trade went underground to avoid detection. The Mangapwani Caves are testament to man’s inhumanity towards others, the first is a large coral cave which contains a freshwater pool inside at its lowest point, the second and more grisly is located a few kilometers away and is a small dark man-made cell with a few air vents carved out of the rock .It is a frightening place where 50 slaves were entombed, poles slotted into cut outs above their heads and another 50 slaves crammed in on top. The slaves were kept here until it was safe to move on for resale in Zanzibar town, the plantations scattered around the island or on to cargo ships to transport to slave markets around the world.
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