A spectacular semi autonomous archipelago of Tanzania, Zanzibar is a popular travelers’ destination which is well known for its beaches, palms, sultanas and spices. During my visit to this beautiful island last summer (I was there on a volunteer trip with my friends) I realized that it is certainly one of the most underrated destinations in the world. There is so much to see, do, and understand in Zanzibar.
So without elongating it any further, let me give you my pick of best things to do in Zanzibar to make the most of your expedition;
Say “Hodi” to Swahili Culture in Stone Town
An old part of the Zanzibar City, the stone town or the Mji Mkongwe as it is locally known. The town has been granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it showcases the influence of diverse cultures on the Swahili lifestyle and history. A must visit while in Zanzibar, you will get a glimpse of the East African culture in this town.
Take A Super Calming Ride In On a Dhow
A ride on the Dhow, the traditional sail boat of Zanzibar, is the one thing that cannot be missed while in Zanzibar. A quiet ride in the Indian Ocean can be quite an exhilarating experience. Miles of tranquility and away from the bustle of city crowd and noise, all you see is turquoise waters and sounds of waves splashing on the boat. This is a must experience.
Visit the Beit El-Ajaib, Old Fort and the Zanzibar Butterfly center
Also known as the House of Wonders, the Beit El-Ajaib is now the National Museum of Zanzibar and a good place to go for discovering the history of the island country. The Old Fort is a good spot to shop for souvenirs and the Butterfly center is a good place to witness a wide variety of butterflies in a tropical setup.
From Traditional Indian Pulao to Zanzibari Pizza
Zanzibar can accommodate foodies with aplomb, from traditional to continental cuisines, the city has it all. Since I was on a volunteer trip, my meals over the weekdays were settled at the guest house I was accommodated at (with other volunteers). However, the weekends were the time for me to let my palate horses run loose. Terrace Restaurant, Forodhani Gardens, and Mercury (dedicated to Freddie Mercury) and Botanic country resorts are some of the well known restaurants of Zanzibar and should be explored.
Do Work for a Volunteer Program
This is on my personal opinion since I am in the habit of traveling like this. But, talking facts, the kind of insights a volunteering travel would give you about Zanzibar (or any destination for that matter), is completely unmatched.
It was literally a satisfying experience to teach English to cute little kids (I worked for the Teaching English project in Zanzibar) and see those happy faces. Also, it allowed me to learn a lot about the local culture, lifestyle, their daily challenges, and how they overcome them all. You must try it!
Experience the Natural Wonders and Wildlife
One of the must visit natural trails is Jozani Forest featuring some very exotic (and large) trees. Even more interesting, though, are the Red Columbus Monkeys that live here. Native to the Island, these monkeys are now nearly extinct. They are very curious and playful and will likely pose for a picture (this one was probably pissed from me). Popular amongst tourists, this is also one of the attractions in Zanzibar.
Visit the Slave Market
Yea you read that correct. However, it's no more a market place of selling and buying slaves; though, the stone carved sculptures will give you a peek into the tumultuous past of Zanzibar. But there is a lot more to visit the market. You can always dine at the uber famous Monsoon Restaurant for a complete experience.