As with every destination, I had my own preconceived idea of what to expect from my visit to Zanzibar, Tanzania. White sand, clear ocean and seafood right? Well, yes, you can expect to be blown away by just how blue the ocean is and to enjoy the feeling of the soft sand on your feet and to indulge in seafood that you may have never tried before. I can confidently say that Zanzibar is all of that, abundantly, and MORE!
When you are putting together your itinerary, you will find that there is a long list of activities and excursions you can choose from and it can be confusing making the decisions. I have selected my top 3 experiences in Zanzibar that absolutely must be included in your visit.
1. Safari blue tour
The safari blue tour is a full day excursion to the north of Zanzibar. There are many tour operators offering this package and all of them pick you up from your accommodation.
The excursion begins with you traveling by dhow boat to a sand bank in the ocean which is like a miniature sand island. We spent some time there laying in the shallow, calm water and enjoyed the tropical fruit provided. I had one of those moments where I was smiling in disbelief at how beautiful it is there.
Then we got back onto the boat and headed to Fumba where we snorkeled. All of the snorkeling gear is provided and life jackets are also provided if you’re not a confident swimmer
It was a great spot to snorkel because the water was calm and shallow and there was plenty of coral. The ocean was a refreshing temperature and there were so many fish.
Snorkeling was followed by a generous seafood feast on Kwale Island. This includes prawns, rice, chips, salad, octopus, lobster and drinks. I was especially excited about eating lobster for the first time.
This lunch on Kwale Island is a vibe! Your feet are in the sand while you sit under shade with heaps of food being passed round. And most importantly, the food tastes great. Besides the lobster, I also remember loving the rice.
Look out for this spot in the picture below while on Kwale Island.
Tip: It costs 1USD to use the toilet on Kwale island so have some cash on you. Oh and it’s a long drop – surprise! There is also a mini market on the island selling clothes, art and jewellery.
2. Spice tour
I enjoyed the spice tour way more than I thought I would. I don’t know why but I expected to be bored. Let me tell you, it’s not a museum like tour where you look at dry spices in glasses and read pages of information. It’s a guided walk through a farm where spices and fruit are grown. Just entering the green, lush walkways had all my preconceived ideas thrown out the window. I also found myself fascinated by simple things. For example, have you ever seen how pineapples are grown? I thought they grew on trees but they actually grow on the ground. I was surprised by that and by the natural form of spices I often use at home.
Our guide, named Friday, taught us about the spices in a way that had us captivated. He would rub leaves between his hands and then hand them over to us to smell and guess what they are. I did quite terribly at the guessing. I hadn’t seen most of the spices in that form before. These included black pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and even chocolate.
The tour ended with fruit tasting and by tasting I mean large portions of a wide range of tropical fruit.
Tip: Remember to bring cash to buy some spices to take home and to tip your guide. Spices and tea are on sale for 5000 shillings per packet.
3. Swim with turtles
Guys! Guuuuuuys! Swimming with turtles at the natural aquarium in Nungwi was the BEST.
Unforgettable. Fun. Calming. Special. It’s one of those things I didn’t know that I wanted. I didn’t know that I could have “swim with turtles” on my bucket list.
We did this before going for a sunset cruise in Nungwi. Even if you don’t do the cruise afterwards, check out Nungwi Beach – it’s lively and fun and has a lot of hotels and restaurants along it.
You can take some of the seaweed provided and place it around you so that the turtles swim right next to you. They don’t bite you or hurt you in any way. They just eat the seaweed and swim past you.
Seeing turtles that close and being in the water with them was an experience I will never forget. Besides me and my three friends, there was a couple also there. We had the whole pool too ourselves.
Tip: The water is shallow so you won’t need to know how to swim. If you don’t want to get into the water, you can feed them from the water’s edge.
I hope this helps narrow down your to do list! My next post will cover things to know while planning a trip to Zanzibar 🙂