In the Zanzibar Zone(s)

We love the saying that ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and this couldn’t be more true of Zanzibar. There’s a lot to love about the island, but our YPA clients are always surprised by how different Zanzibar’s various ‘zones’ can be.

Depending on what your vibe is, we can take the guesswork out of the equation by putting together the perfect itinerary. To give you an idea of how the East vs West coasts are, here’s a summary of our recent island explorations:

First stop – Stone Town

Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated 7 km from Zanzibar Airport, so it’s a natural starting point for everyone’s island adventure. Arab, Indian, and European influences abound in this picturesque Swahili trading town, making it a fascinating and historically significant start to your trip.

Highlights include an official tour of Stone Town to understand the city’s slave history origins; visiting the authentic fish market (which sells some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever see); exploring the old town’s streets, trying to spot as many of the original centuries-old wooden Zanzibar doors that still exist in the city as possible; and ending the day sipping on a sundowner at the Rooftop Bar in the sleek Neela Hotel.

Guests that love the hustle and bustle of a slightly chaotic, rough-around-the-edges East African town will enjoy staying in Stone Town for a night before heading off to explore Zanzibar’s beautiful coastal zones. For those that want to start their relaxation sooner, however, we advise heading off to spend your first night at an idyllic beachy destination and then come back for a morning or afternoon tour on your second or final day before going to the airport.

Exploring the East Coast

The East Coast is home to a wide range of beautiful hotels, and it boasts some of Zanzibar’s best and most idyllic beaches, but the tidal aspect of the Indian Ocean means that you could experience up to two high tide peaks and two low tide peaks a day.

When the sea recedes, you can literally walk on its dry seabed for miles, and when the tide comes back, it can swallow the entire beach. 

  •   Where to stay

We picked a contemporary boutique hotel tucked inside tropical gardens with resident bush baby families, a beachy atmosphere and some of the friendliest service on the island.

Highlights include delicious fresh fish dinners, incredible produce from the on-site vegetable and fruit farm, and Le Petit Chef, a cellar on the property where guests can enjoy unique and private culinary experiences.

A day at Tulia might include riding one of the hotel’s bicycles to the nearby local village, having a drink at the vibey bar in the center of the property (where everyone gathers before supper), and enjoying the beach (where you can walk right into the water at low tide and amble along for miles on the sand when the water recedes). We recommend heading off the property too and snorkel with turtles off Mnemba Island or take a tour of a spice farm.

Heading North-West

As a rule, the further north in Zanzibar you go, the more private and less crowded the beaches are, and the less affected the beaches are by the tidal range.

  •   Where to stay

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a luxury beach resort in the North-West region of the island, but because of a love for the 1970’s pop group, ABBA, our hotel pick is the Kilindi Zanzibar.

Originally designed for Benny Andersson from the band ABBA, Kilindi achieves the perfect marriage between Scandinavian minimalism and the dramatic architectural overtones of Middle Eastern heritage.

Highlights include incredibly spacious, white-domed Pavilion guest rooms that are set in 50 acres of lush tropical gardens. They offer true 4-star glamor, and beautiful hillside views of the charming fishing village alongside the property. Plus, they’re very quiet and very private.

In fact, on the topic of privacy, Kilindi boasts its own sunset-facing beach, which its guests have exclusive access to.

Activities to enjoy at Kilindi included a dolphin and snorkeling tour, a sunset dhow cruise, and deep sea fishing. A highlight is the private Swahili cooking classes and you come away with hands-on experience and recipes for the most delicious prawn curry and chapatis.

Planning the perfect trip

Whether your vibe is understanding an old town’s history, snorkeling with turtles, exploring spice farms and indulging in culinary delights, or just sticking your feet in the sand and enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation, Zanzibar has it all. The trick is finding that happy balance between chaos and calm, rugged and plush – and that’s where we come in!

NEWS UPDATE: YPA client favorite, andBeyond’s Mnemba Island, situated off the northeastern coast of Zanzibar, is undergoing a sensational refurbishment and should be ready to re-open in October of this year. We can’t wait to start booking this much-loved private barefoot island again.

Let’s chat about your dream island adventure and we’ll start putting together the perfect itinerary.

Be inspired!

Join our mailing list
Sign up here