IS ZANZIBAR ISLAND AN EXOTIC TRAVEL DESTINATION?

by Olga
Travelling to Zanzibar

Zanzibar, a relatively small island in the southeast of Africa once autonomously under Arab occupation now united with Tanzania and is considered to be one of the top three “exotic” destinations that couples mainly choose for honeymoon trips along with the Maldives and Seychelles. Green, tropical, with wonderful blue waters and all-white sand make up the unique scenery in Zanzibar! But… is really Zanzibar island an exotic travel destination?

A few words about Zanzibar island

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site. Zanzibar’s main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism.

What to see and what to do in Zanzibar island

  • Stone town (Market, slave memorial etc)
  • Dala dala experience (from Stone town to Paje beach costs 2500 Tanzanian shillings or  under 2 euros while by taxi you ll gonna need at least $25)
  • Prison island (bargain the price at about 3-5 usd there on site and don’t book prior traveling for $35)
  • Paje beach (the most beautiful beach in our opinion)
  • Jambiani village and beach
  • Jambiani school visit and volunteer
  • Jozani forest to see monkeys
  • Butterfly forest
  • Cuza caves
  • Snorkel
  • Kite surfing
  • Rock restaurant (for a luxurious meal)
  • See the tide going up and down (check out the times of the tide so that you get to enjoy the sea)
  • Other beaches of the island (move around by Dala dala)
  • Visit one of the near Islands

Watch our map on google earth and our video!

Where to eat in Zanzibar island?

  1. Stone town Tamu (gelateria Italians for cheap pizza bites by an Italian owner)
  2. Paje beach Bausinga (local restaurant with local food and fair prices)
  3. Paje beach Chianti (European restaurant with touristic mood)
  4. Rock restaurant (one of its kind, very pricey to our opinion)

How to get from Tanzania mainland to Zanzibar island?

There are two ways of getting around in Zanzibar, the one is of course by air via Zanzibar airport which is located just outside Stone town and the second one is by ferry from the beach of the mainland of Tanzania and Dar El Salam! There is no ideal way in terms of money because e.g. the plane ticket can cost $55 and the boat $35, but if you take a taxi to get you to the boat especially in case you are traveling late night, the cost exceeds the cost of the plane. Whenever you travel always  check both options and chose the best one for you!

Where to stay in Zanzibar island?

The options for staying are also many and affordable for all budgets. Luckily for everyone Zanzibar doesn’t even have so many all-inclusive hotels that really would spoil the aesthetics of the island! However, most of the accommodations are owned by European owners. We stayed in bungalows on Paje beach which was an excellent choice. In Stone town you could have plenty of cheap options to stay, we used a hostel, which had a fantastic view and was in the city center. Don’t forget, of course, that it is a poor island that does not have infrastructure even if you decide to stay someplace more expensive. Try understand the way of local living and do not expect it to be a dreamy vacation on a sun lounger (of course this is also available there, but you don’t have to make it all the way to Zanzibar to do that)! Don’t expect air conditioning unless you stay in a classic tourist hotel (which isn’t bad of course) and here comes our objection to the way we treat the exotic Zanzibar… and the way we westerners wanna experience the island!

Is Zanzibar an Exotic destination after all?

Zanzibar island is a wonderful island with blue waters and white sand! With wonderful pure and smiling people who have nothing to do with Western culture. It is not that  ok for all of us to go there and demand services and air conditioning while the average local of the island does not even have access to clean drinking water. We do not intent to judge but we really dont like seeing tourists waiting to live the dream of an exotic beach vacation demanding luxurious sun beds and cocktails (which are there for you of course… after all,  actually you can have anything you wish and require and the local employees are there to satisfy will pleasure the requirements that owners of the lodges mainly Europeans have already trained them to offer to the tourists) while only two meters further, in the village there is no clean water for the children!

So our point of view  is that yes, Zanzibar is an exotic dreamy destination because it is exotic naturally and not because we tourists imagine it as an exotic place! Zanzibar is a very pure place, with quiet and kind muslim people in religion, with their children living below any poverty standards but with a constant smile on their face and it is worth being respecting without any demands for all inclusive situations and demonstration of our western culture. Let’s leave some places evolve at their own pace and their own unique way, the copy paste thing and some dreaming of an exotic honeymoon trip two meters away from reality do not suit Zanzibar.

How much does a trip to Zanzibar island cost?

Assuming that airfares vary and cost about 400€ per person (we flew for 350€ per person from Brussels with Turkish airlines), a budget of 1400€ for two people for a week will offer you more than comfortable living! With food and beer at 20€ a day, cheap dala – dala travel, local restaurants with affordable food and accommodation for every budget we would say Zanzibar is a low budget destination! For lower budget travellers expect to spend 1200€ per two persons for a week with a plane ticket of 350€ per person, accommodation in hostels 250€, food 200€ and some money for transportation and  souvenirs.

So, is Zanzibar island an exotic destination you would like to visit? Of course it is! This goes without saying.. Visit Zanzibar, respect it, help it and love it for  what this place stands! After all, its beauty is so unique that it is generously given to you whether you stay in a hostel or a well-known all inclusive hotel. Its beauty is found in the simplicity of its people which you will get to feel once you visit one of its authentic villages for a real cultural experience!

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