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What to wear for a week in Zanzibar

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In my last article I have share with you why I think Zanzibar is worth a visit. I have also explained that although Zanzibar is prised to have such a relaxed atmosphere, the population is very religious and mostly Muslims, so dressing appropriately is imperative and that’s why I want to show you what to wear for a week in Zanzibar.

If you think about it, it’s actually pretty easy to put together what you will wear for a week on a beach destination like Zanzibar. Most time you will be on the beach soaking up the sun or swimming in the sea with beautiful starfish, but, there will be other times where you will be out and about exploring the rest of the island.

So, I made a small list with my favourites that I have packed for my week in Zanzibar. I have also included some tips for ‘dressing appropriately’ that I hope will make your packing experience much easier.

My list on what to wear for a week in Zanzibar

General Tips

As general advice when you walk around the beach and hotels of the north of the island it’s fine wearing your bikini/shorts but when going for lunch/dinner, even in the beach restaurants, please put something on, even if it’s just a shirt. Outside this areas avoid walking with just your swim costumes. For women, topless in the beach is not allowed.

When out in the villages or Stone Town dress modestly. For women cover the knees and shoulders, you can use long skirts or even a scarf.

It will be hot and humid most time so choose materials that are lightweight and preferably cotton.  At night if it’s the hottest season (I have travelled in February) you don’t really need a jacket so I didn’t include that on my list.

The Essentials

(Click on the image to shop)
  • Hat

  • Sunglasses

  • Beach Bag: I love the straw ones and they are also useful as hand luggage.

  • Beach Towel: I normally use a thin one like these Turkish bath towel because it doesn’t take much space when packing.

  • Sunscreen: not really to wear but to apply all the time. The sun is strong and the sunshine hours are long so, be careful!

  • Scarf: I have included this one as essential because in some areas of Stone Town you may have to use it to cover up and will warm you up in case you’re cold.

Footwear

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  • Flip Flops

  • Small heel sandals

  • Flat sandals

Clothing

(Click on the image to shop)
  • Bikinis/Swimsuit: always in the plural for me, can’t have enough of them! I am a self-confessed bikini lover – have a look on my favourites.

  • Dresses

  • Beach tunic: I normally pack this one on my way to the beach and then wear it after for lunch and to come out of the beach. It’s a comfortable option when you have your skin full of sand and sunscreen.

  • Jumpsuit: you can use for day or night time

  • Shorts

  • Top
  • Short skirt
  • Long skirt: Women should cover shoulders and knees when out in Stone Town (dress modestly) so I opted for a light long skirt.

  • Maxi Dress

Hope you find this helpful for your trip to Zanzibar and let me know how can I help you in the comments below.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission.

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15 Reasons to Visit Zanzibar

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The beautiful island of Zanzibar it’s one of these dream destinations and it was on my bucket list for a long time. As soon as I planned a long trip to Africa I knew I had to stop there, but there is much more beyond the white sandy beaches and the turquoise clear water.

Zanzibar is a group of islands: Ungoja and Pemba together with other smaller islands. The tropical vibes together with centuries of fascinating history make it hard to resist a visit. It is possible to relax and enjoy the simple life while going on adventures and explore the island.

So, without revealing more, here are 15 reasons to visit Zanzibar

15 reasons to visit Zanzibar

1. Relaxed atmosphere

The island life like they say is slow in Zanzibar. It’s a fun, relaxing and peaceful. Everything is full of life and there is always something to try in a relaxed way. Even in busy Stone Town you don’t feel the need to rush or walk fast. Things are not perfect and the service takes time but people don’t really care, everyone seems to be in high spirits all the time.

Nungwi Beach

2. Perfect sunsets

While travelling in Africa I have witness some of the most spectacular sunsets you can imagine. If you have been following me on Instagram you already noticed that as well and in Zanzibar was no different. It’s so beautiful that I get almost shocked by it. It combines the good vibes of the island with spectacular colours and no one can be indifferent to it. The photos say more than words.

3. Eco-tourism destination

In Chumbe Island it’s possible to live without leaving footprints in the environment. There are 7 eco-bungalows built to have rainwater harvesting, solar power and composting toilets. At night there is no illumination in the beach and other trails to protect nocturnal animals. There also several conservation projects within the island and restrictions apply to non-indigenous elements. For overnight stay the prices vary between $260 to $280 USD. It is possible to go just for the day for $90 USD to snorkel around the coral reef.

4. Long hours of sunshine

If you are looking for sun this is place. Sunshine hours vary between 7-10 hours and the warm temperatures go all year round. You do get some rain between March and May and very small during November and December but that quickly disappear. On average February is the hottest month with temperatures reaching 28°C and the lowest in July with 24°C.

5. Romantic character

Prepare yourself to be in love. If you’re looking to spend some special time with your other half I really recommend this part of the world. Why? It can be very intimate strolling around the beach and at night enjoy one of the many candle-light dinners in the beach. Numerous private tours are possible for the most adventurous.

Stone Town

6. Cultural diversity

The diverse influences from different people in Zanzibar history have made a unique cultural mix. Different ethnic groups make the island nowadays with Muslims being the large group. But there is something that is significant common between them, the fact that they are very religious. Don’t be mistaken by the photos you see where people just wear bikinis and shorts everywhere. This behaviour is not really accepted by the population; remember to dress yourself to go to the restaurant or walking around villages. For the ladies topless on the beach is not acceptable.

While people are sunbathing…

7. Dream beaches

If you are dreaming of a beach destination there are not a lot of places that have such beautiful beaches like Zanzibar. The best ones for me were Nungwi, Kendwa, Paje and Pongwe. The scenic white sandy beaches together with the calm warm waters are a dream. The activities are endless: from relaxing in comfortable beach chairs, try new water sports and eat tasty food all day you name it!  The beaches are overall calm, even up north where most of the tourists go, the beaches were not crowded (and I went in peak season). When the tides are low starfish appear everywhere and it’s wonderful to see all the colours. I recommend the beaches up north because it’s easier to swim and to go for snorkel/dive.

 

Nungwi Beach
Kendwa Beach
Paje Beach

8. Fresh fruit everywhere

Pineapples and coconuts are a daily treat every day. For less than $1 USD you can get two coconuts and do the right hydration!

9. Friendly population

Every day people will great you with ‘Mambo’ or ‘Jambo’, the Swahili for hello. It may seem strange for people you don’t know coming to you to talk, but don’t think bad of them, they are just being genuinely friendly.

10. Beautiful coral reefs

Go for snorkel or scuba diving. Either of the options is suitable to see the coral reefs. But don’t miss them! They are really beautiful and the underwater life is spectacular with numerous species of fish and colourful starfish. Have a look on my article about Mnemba Atoll here.

11. Unique wildlife

Get yourself immersed in the beautiful underwater life, but if you are not diving or snorkeling there are other unique things animals to see in Zanzibar. Take a trip to Jozani Forest to see the red colobus monkeys or to Prison Island to see the giant tortoises.

12. Delicious food from the world

In Zanzibar it’s possible to taste a bit of everything as they have a multi-cultural influence from all over the world. Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, Indian and African as well as Italian, Japanese and many others are possible in one single menu in most of the restaurants around.

Another aspect of the food is the spices. There is no place like Zanzibar to taste and buy spices. With all the influence from India, centuries ago, they are very serious about it. You can even take a Spice Tour to get to know more about it and taste various spices, some of them that I didn’t even knew existed!

And if you are in a tropical island you are expecting seafood like I was! But it was even better than I expected. There is so much variety and in every place I had seafood it was delicious. It’s also incredible cheap to eat lobster all the time – seafood paradise!

13. Stay at Nungwi Beach

I need to make this one of the reasons to visit Zanzibar, because the beach is excellent. Overall the beach is very clean; there are super tasty restaurants around and good accommodations. From what I have seen on the rest of the island this is the area I recommend to stay. During my time there I stayed in Amaan Bungalows, a budget accommodation but that really surprised me on the quality of room, pool, and restaurant. The only down was breakfast, but with so much fresh pineapple around this was not a problem.

14. Fascinating history

For centuries Zanzibar has been a place for traders from all over the world. The island imported slaves, gold, ivory and spices to Asia and Persia. From these trades, the Islam and the Arabic architecture were introduced and it’s still a characteristic of the island today. With the abolition of slavery, Zanzibar became part of the British Empire that regained independence on the Shortest War in the world lasting 45 minutes. Other cultures are also part of the rich history of the island such as Portuguese, Spanish and Indian.

15. Stone Town

To truly know Zanzibar you cannot miss a trip to the capital Stone Town, which is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even if it just a day trip like I did it’s important to understand most of the reasons I have given throughout this article. In there you will see the history, the culture and the architecture. Small little alleys, mosques and hundreds of people busy across the many shops is the usual scenario. The decoration of the houses is more influenced by Arabic architecture and walking around reminded me of the movie Aladdin. Don’t miss a visit to Forodhani Night Food Market with great atmosphere and delicious food – go for the crepes!

As a big tip avoid driving in there as you will be in serious danger. The roads are tinny and they drive fast physically touching people on the way. I was just in the back of a taxi for one hour and can tell you that it was quite an adventure!

Have you been in Zanzibar? How was your experience? Comment below.

 

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Lunch at The Rock, Zanzibar – A unique experience

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The Rock restaurant is one of the most original restaurants in the world. Located in the shores of the beautiful Michanwi Pingwe beach it sits on a huge rock in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Lunch at The Rock, Zanzibar

Inspired by The Rock? Keep reading!

When I think about Zanzibar, this restaurant will always be on my mind.

The terrace outside is great and even when the tide is low the views are superb. The turquoise colour of the sea is impressive.

Inside does not disappoint either. There are only 12 tables, decorated in a simple way with lots of colourful flowers that make you feel very cosy.

Should I do a reservation?

Yes! By all means. We booked it online on the official website, just two days before our visit. Initially we made a reservation for 2pm as we were going around the island that day but then end up getting there one hour early and had our meal earlier. It did got really busy after 1pm. Reserve a slot just to be sure and then see how the day is going.

An important consideration when doing the reservation is to check the tides. At certain hours there is no water around and I got a bit disappointed when I got there because of that. Then later after 2pm there was more water and I must say it does looks more beautiful when looking from the shore. So maybe just book dinner or go for a drink in the afternoon.

How to get there?

The Rock restaurant is located south east of the island and the access is easy. Normally people get a taxi or go as part of a tour.

From the north part of the island where I was it’s about 1 hour and a half. From Page it’s about 10 to 20 minutes and from Stone Town about 1 hour.

Once you reach the beach there are two options to access The Rock. If the tide is low you can simply walk along the rock paths that take you to the stairs of the restaurant. If the tide is high there is a small wooden boat that takes you directly to the stairs. This a service is offered by the restaurant.

The food experience

Before the meal we had a cocktail outside in the terrace as it was still early for lunch. Then we got seated in a little table overlooking the ocean which was very romantic.

The menu is very focused on seafood which I love. Between me and my husband we had a starter of prawn and squid. For main courses I had the lobster tagliatelle and my husband the Rock special which consists in a grill of lobster, king prawn, calamari and fish fillet. The food was good and I recommend the Rock special which was the best plate.

The prices are way above from what you normally pay eating anywhere else in the island. For the food described with two non-alcoholic cocktails and two cokes we paid about $100 US.  Expensive for the prices practiced within other restaurants in the island and considering we didn’t even had alcoholic drinks.

Overall opinion of The Rock

I definitely recommend a visit if you are in Zanzibar as it’s like a postcard of the island. The location is great and you can include it on a day when exploring around.

The views are great and it was nice to get the sun sitting down on the comfortable sofas of the terrace. The staff is really nice and the service was fast even when the restaurant was full.

As for the food, is good but overpriced. We had similar meals in different locations on the north of the island and paid probably half or less.

So my advice is yes, visit, but go just for a drink and try to go earlier rather than later as the terrace gets crowded.

 

Have you visited? How was your experience?

Leave me a comment below.

 

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Snorkeling in Mnemba Atoll, Zanzibar

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Mnemba Atoll is the most famous conservation area in Zanzibar located near Matemwe. It is also one of the best places to snorkel/dive within the island with beautiful coral reefs and clear blue water.

If your idea is to see a lot of different species of fish this is the place to go. Turtles and dolphins can also be spotted here swimming around people. One of the best reasons to pick this area is that the visibility is great, reaching up to 10 to 30 meters.

Mnemba Island can be spotted from the snorkel/dive areas and it’s the largest island of Zanzibar Archipelago. The island is private and it can only be visited as a guest to &Beyond Mnemba Island, a beautiful place to stay with exorbitant prices per night, between $1000 US and $2000 US. A fine is given to non-guests if they try to go to the island or snorkel/dive too close to the shore.

How to go to Mnemba Atoll?

The best way to go out there to do water activities such as snorkel/dive is to go as part of a group with an organized company. Although, if you are experienced enough, you can rent a boat and go by yourself.

 Having researched before the places to snorkel/dive I knew that I couldn’t go wrong with this area. Sure, there are other places around but if you are just there for a few days, like in my case, this is the place to go.

Divine Diving, Yoga & Dive Center were just around the corner from our accommodation. So when it came to choose a company we already knew it would be easy. We didn’t make many plans about it and at the end of the first day we just booked it on our way back from the beach.

The diving companies in Zanzibar kind of offer the same experiences and the boats, from what I have seen, are all about the same size.

About to get in!

My experience in Mnemba Atoll

We left from Nungwi at about 10am. It’s not a short boat ride but it’s a comfortable one. With the sun shining on us and the beautiful clear waters of Zanzibar it went quick.

On the same boat there were groups to dive and others to snorkel. I decided to snorkel because just before I dived in the Maldives so didn’t really thought I needed that again. Also, snorkel around is much easier and the water is so full of fish that I don’t think I missed anything. Nevertheless the area is good for both experiences.

The first spot was shallow and the water clear like a pool. I have seen all sorts of fish, most of them with bright colours and just swimming around us. Lots of surgeon fish, clown fish, corals and beautiful coloured starfish everywhere.

The second spot was deeper but with more coral reef. Oh my! Beautiful live colours everywhere and big shoals of fish around us.

I loved it, although this last area was a bit more crowded. It’s super easy to snorkel around as the waters are calm. We did have diving suits but it was just a matter of protection I think, because the waters were warm. The diving company also had masks included, but I had my one, that you can shop in the link below.

Two Bare Feet – Mask and Snorkel ADULT SET – by MIKES DIVING (BLACK/RED)

After snorkeling in these two different locations, we got lunch on the boat – pineapple and veggies and got back at around 16h, which was great as we still had time to relax on the beach.

Take care of nature

Please, like in other reef areas with corals and marine life avoid physical contact. I did many dives/snorkels around the world and have never seen behaviours like that anywhere else. In both snorkel/dive sites I have seen plastic water bottles and waste food. I have even some dive instructors from another company giving small pieces of food to attract more fish. I highly disapprove this attitude and it’s clear that there is a lack of education around. I have told my opinion to the company that took us out there.

It would be a shame to ruin such a beautiful place like Zanzibar and the reefs around the island, so please if you are reading this be careful and reprehend this behaviour.

More adventures from Zanzibar, coming soon!

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