Where to go
Unguja, also known as Zanzibar Island, is the main tropical island in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar.
Boasting some of the finest swimming beaches in Africa, as well as world-class scuba-diving sites, we rate Zanzibar as an ideal destination for travelers seeking a blissful, barefoot-luxury holiday. Whether you want to spend your days relaxing on a tropical beach, exploring the cultural attractions of Stone Town, or enjoying the many water sports on offer, this island has something for every traveler.
Zanzibar produces some of the world’s finest spices and is home to the endemic Zanzibar red colobus, the Zanzibar servaline genet, and the (possibly extinct) Zanzibar leopard.
Zanzibar is also perfectly combinable with a safari in Tanzania.
Stone Town is the heart and soul of the island and oldest part of Zanzibar City. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, it is known for its rich cultural heritage of Arab, Persian, Indian, and European elements. An incredible mashup of winding alleys and old Arabic-style buildings, you can temporarily lose yourself in the town’s magic. Soak up the local culture by sipping a cup of coffee from a local vendor or wander through the streets, discovering unique little spots at every turn.
Commonly known as the Sultan’s Palace, The Palace Museum is perhaps the most historic building in Stone Town and is a must-see for any traveler. The Palace Museum is located in the waterfront, overlooking the ocean, and was built in the 19th century as a home for the Sultan and his family. After the 1964 revolution, the site was used as a Government building and was renamed as The People’s Palace. Today it serves as a museum that showcases relics of the past Sultan family.
The House of Wonders is a hugely important and visually stunning historic building in Stone Town. The House of Wonders rises in impressive tiers of slender steel pillars and balconies overlooking the waterfront. Its enormous carved doors are said to be the largest in East Africa, fronted by two bronze cannon with Portuguese inscriptions dating them to the 16th century. It boasts a highly interesting exhibition that offers a brilliant insight into Zanzibari and Swahili culture. The House of Wonders is the grandest and tallest building in all of Stone Town and is found in a prominent location in front of the Forodhani Gardens on the old town’s seafront.
The oldest building in Stone Town, the Old Fort is located on the seafront, right in front of the famous Forodhani Gardens. Originally built in the 17th century with the purpose of defending the island from attacks from the Portuguese, nowadays the Old Fort is one of Stone Town’s main sights. Visitors can admire the remains of the former fort and amble around the courtyard in the center, where sellers have local produce for sale. An old amphitheater still hosts events and functions in the fort.
A half-hour boat trip from Zanzibar, Prison Island provides a fascinating glimpse into the island’s slightly dark past – this land was once used as a place where slaves were detained and, when slavery was abolished, it functioned as a camp where people with deadly diseases were sent. Fortunately enough, that is all in the past and today the island is a nature reserve for giant tortoises and a place to see the ruins that once functioned as the prison.
A vast and scenic spread of green, Jozani is the last indigenous forest left on Zanzibar. Located inland from Chwaka Bay the area often floods, which luckily nurtures a unique swamp forest of many amazing looking trees and ferns. This forest is one of the last remaining sanctuaries in the world of the red Colobus monkey and is also a great place to encounter many indigenous varieties of flora and fauna.The forest is best reached via bus (309 or 310), by chartered taxi, or as part of an organized tour.
Nungwi is a village found on Zanzibar’s North West tip. This is a popular place yet it’s not overrun by tourists, and it’s one of Zanzibar's top beaches as the tide doesn’t head out too far. The aquarium on the north coast of Nungwi near the lighthouse, rears small turtles found on the beach until they are large enough and then released to survive in the sea. The aquarium is a natural pond with seawater that seeps through the cliff at high tide. This is a great destination for those looking to just soak up some sun and dip their toes in the sea but don’t need the luxury of a fancy hotel.
Zanzibar is known for its spice trade, so what better way to immerse yourself in the local culture than learning about its wealthiest and most profitable industry? Travelers can choose from a variety of tours and explore the winding streets with expert tour guides who will inform you of the origins of the industry, as well as teaching guests about the wide variety of spices that Zanzibar produces and trades in.
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