Renowned for its idyllic white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, Zanzibar is a tropical paradise in the true sense of the word.
With its picturesque fishing villages and friendly inhabitants, the island transport travelers back to a time where life just seemed simpler. Travelers can buy the most flavorful fruit from the local markets in the mornings or taste the freshest fish cooked on open fires on the beach in the evenings. They can spend their days lazing on the beach, sampling local cuisine or listening to the beats of the African music.
The underwater treasures the island has to offer are also definitely worth exploring. Within its warm turquoise waters, divers or snorkelers can expect to see parrotfish, clownfish and angelfish or play hide and seek with starfish, turtles, seahorses, sea urchins and sea anemones, to name just a few. They might also meet a frolicking pod of dolphins as they swim by to get a closer look at the humans.
It's almost impossible to pinpoint the best beach in Zanzibar. The most famous beach is without a doubt Nungwi, located on the northernmost point of the island, but there are many other beaches waiting to be explored. On the east side of the island, Paje and Jambiani are famed for their kite-surfing opportunities. The sea is shallow until very far out in this section of the island, and the photo opportunities are magical. The small towns and exquisite beaches of Kiwengwa and Pongwe, on the other hand, offer more seclusion.
However, for those looking for the ultimate private experience, Chumbe Island is the place to be. This islet just off the coast of Zanzibar is said to be one of the last truly pristine coral islands in the region and offers travelers a modern-day Robinson Crusoe experience. Chumbe features a fully protected coral reef sanctuary and forest reserve harboring rare wildlife.
Although it is possible to visit Chumbe on a daytrip, travelers should consider staying overnight. Accommodations on Chumbe consists of just seven eco-bungalows, all overlooking the sea. Each bungalow is equipped with double or twin beds in the sleeping area under the palm thatched roof; a self-contained bathroom with hot and cold shower; a large living room equipped with handmade furniture and decorated with African art; colorful fabrics; and a very comfortable hammock. Rates start from $280 per person, per night, including boat transport and accommodations as well as all meals and activities. For more information, visit http://www.chumbeisland.com/.
Travelers visiting Chumbe can enjoy snorkeling expeditions through the unique shallow water Coral Reef Sanctuary or join guided nature walks through the nature reserve. A popular night walk at the resort enables travelers to encounter giant coconut crabs in the coral rag forest. Coconut crabs can reach up to nearly 18 inches in diameter and are the largest living land crabs in the world.
The Chumbwe Island lighthousewas built in 1904.
Although Chumbe Island was uninhabited for many decades, the island still has a few historical buildings that were either left untouched or carefully restored. A historical lighthouse, built by the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British in 1904, provides spectacular views of the turquoise seas between Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, still plied by dhows unchanged for a thousand years.
For travelers who are looking for lazy holidays along white sandy tropical beaches, Zanzibar is hard to beat. They will never feel the need to rush here, and they will have to get used to hearing the locals exclaim: "Pole, pole" meaning "slowly, slowly."
Good news is that Zanzibar will become a lot more accessible for U.S. travelers from March this year when South African Airways' (SAA) the low-cost subsidiary Mango increases its flight frequency to the island.
Effective March 8, Mango has announced it will add a third weekly frequency from Johannesburg to Zanzibar. SAA's Todd Neuman told Travel Weekly the new flight will offer seamless connections for travellers from New York JFK via Johannesburg to Zanzibar.