If you’ve ever heard of The Spice Islands, chances are it is referencing Zanzibar. Why? Omani Arabs colonized these islands in the late 18th century and they quickly planted acres of spices—starting with cloves—which transformed the islands into a worldwide hub for the spice trade. Vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. Sign up for a spice tour and you’ll sample all four of these potent spices. (source). Oh, and pssst: spices are great (and packable) gifts for loved ones! Interested in learning more about the spices of Zanzibar?
Pronounced “dow,” as in rhyming with “cow,” these elegant, traditional sailing vessels are seen all over Zanzibar. They are Arab-engineered boats with long, thin wooden hulls. As 98% of Zanzibar’s population is Muslim, dhows have been long been used here for transportation and cargo. Fun fact? Dubai recently built the world’s largest dhow at nearly 300 feet long, 33 feet high! (source) Most dhows you’ll find in Zanzibar are small and intimate, ideal for a romantic sunset cruise.
Zanzibar’s biggest attractions aren’t just world-class beaches but also bustling urban hubs like UNESCO-designated Stone Town. The island’s capital city is a must-see, with its tangled history of slave trade and colonial charades (Learn more about Stone Town). The Darajani Market is the city’s central heartbeat, so schedule a Stone Town tour and spend time weaving through this market. It literally bursts at the seams with burlap spices, drying fish, and textiles. Zanzibari merchants are especially kind, and they’ll welcome your patronage, so be sure and leave room in your luggage for gifts.
Zanzibar wouldn’t be the destination it is today without the crystalline Indian Ocean surrounding it, and all that lives beneath the surface. Over 500 species of marine life call Zanzibar’s coastal waters home, while bathtub-warm temperatures hover around 80 degrees year-round. So. Good. At Mnemba Atoll you’ll discover blue-spotted rays, bottlenose dolphins, and hundreds of other creatures to dive or snorkel alongside. Oh, and did I mention it’s a nesting ground for endangered green sea turtles? (source)
After an unofficial scouring of the planet for the most beautiful beaches on Earth, it’s conclusive: Zanzibar tops the podium. Anywhere you stay on the islands, you’re bound to find your own patch of paradise. Easy Travel has worked on Zanzibar for decades to find the very best places to stay, and we often recommend Nungwi Beach, voted a Top 100 Beach on the Planet (source), as well as one of the island’s most swimmable beaches.
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