Where to go for a lazy beach vacation in Africa? My answer is Zanzibar. A holiday in Africa can be normally imagined as adventurous and it definitely is. However, you can choose a place at the beach like Zanzibar and you can literally do nothing, just lie down at the beach, walk at the beach, swim in the sea when there is high tide, and explore the sea urchin, starfish, and seaweeds during low tide. You can relax, get a tan and watch sunrise or sunset every day. Does this sound to you appealing? Do you need a break from your everyday life? Then read further about Zanzibar and my trip.
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Zanzibar is named for two islands on the east African coast. South island Zanzibar (Unguja in Swahili) and north island Pemba. It is an autonomous region of Tanzania.
Capital city– Zanzibar city
Time zone – UTC+3
Official languages– Swahili, Arabic, and English
Currency– Tanzanian shilling (TZS)
Driving side– left
Religion– 99% Islam, 0.5% Christianity
Information before the journey
When is the best time to go– The climate in Zanzibar is a tropical monsoon climate. It is warm all year long there as Zanzibar is close to the equator. However; there are two rainy seasons. One in March, April, and May, and the second one in November and December. So I would avoid those months for a visit.
Visitors visa– Tanzania together with Zanzibar introduced an online visa application. The process takes about 5 working days.
Currency to take with you– US dollars or EUR
Vaccinations– recommended ones are those that we took during our childhood, then tetanus and hepatitis A and B. Mandatory vaccine is yellow fever for people who are coming from the country where yellow fever appears. Also, some people recommend antimalarial tablets. However; the tablets are very strong and malaria is not so much spread there, especially if you are just staying in the hotel. Rooms are sprayed against mosquitoes. Therefore, I recommend only repellents for the evenings.
Safety– If you are careful and do not go alone in unknown places, Zanzibar is a safe country. As it says:” There are no unsafe countries, only unsafe tourists.”
My trip and doing nothing at the beach
My trip to the African beach vacation-Zanzibar started by landing at Tanzania airport Dar Es Salaam. It started a little bit adventurous as I was meeting someone I didn’t know very well and my plane landed at night. We had to wait at the airport to take an early morning taxi to the port, from which we traveled by ferry to Zanzibar. It was not safe to stay and wait at the port for the first ferry. Don’t forget to negotiate the price of a taxi. You are in Africa. Another option to go to Zanzibar is by plane which takes about 15 minutes. The ferry takes about 2 hours. However, it is a very nice journey if you sit outside where you can feel and watch the ocean. Inside the ferries are very clean and modern. I would say like trains in Europe or planes.
After we reached Zanzibar, we took a taxi to take us to our hotel – Waikiki Zanzibar Resort, which is situated at the most stunning beach of Zanzibar, Pwani Mchangani beach. This hotel is owned by an Italian couple who live there. (at least at that time when I was there). The hotel is built in a very nice way. It is not just one big building. Once you enter the resort, there is an outside reception, then an outside restaurant, and then rooms, which are like small houses built on the sand with beach and sea right in front. Actually soft white sand is everywhere. You don’t even need shoes. The rooms are in African style with your own bathroom. Don’t expect anything luxurious, but everything is clean and you have all you need. Some rooms have aircon and some fans on the ceiling.
So what did I do at this gorgeous beach? Nothing, as I said at the beginning. Hahahaha. But I will write what you can do, otherwise, there would be no point in writing. Every morning after breakfast we spent time at the beach getting tan and swimming in the sea. The sea was very strange that I haven’t seen before. I mean there were very noticeable low and high tides. When there was a high tide, the water was at your waist and you could swim and enjoy the water.
However, when there was low tide, it looked like there was no sea at all. You could walk many meters and observe the bottom of the sea without the water. There were so many starfish, from the little ones to the big ones. Lots of sea urchins lying there – shoes in the water are recommended, but if you take care, you are fine. During the low tide, there were women coming to pick up their harvest of seaweeds. I have never seen it before, but there were seaweeds on sticks planted and when they were ready, these women were picking them. I was told that seaweeds are exported from Zanzibar and used for cosmetics, etc.
Once you are fed up with lying down on the sunbed, you can take a walk on this beautiful beach which is very long in both directions. There are people offering souvenirs, in case you would like to buy something, but they are not bothering you.
In case you would like to really do or see something from Zanzibar, you can book a day trip to Stone Town, which is the old town of Zanzibar, and a spice farm tour.
What can you see in Zanzibar?
As I was already in Zanzibar and I didn’t know whether I would have a chance to come again, I wanted to see a little bit of the city and life here. Therefore, I booked this tour to Stone town and spice farm. Zanzibar is known for its spices, which is one of their sources of income. The main one is tourism. The spices are also exported worldwide. At this big farm, we could see a lot of different spices and how they grow, also different fruits and palm trees.
They made us some jewelry from the grass as a souvenir. At the end of the tour, you can buy some spices. They are a little bit more expensive, but it is going to the community so it is for a good cause. Also, it is a nice souvenir to bring back home.
After the spice tour, we went to Stone Town, where we saw the most interesting historical sites like House of Wonder, which was the first building in Zanzibar with electricity. Inside is a museum now, but we didn’t go in. Another interesting monument was the Anglican cathedral of Chris Church, also a place where they used to keep slaves (that was heartbreaking). We walked through the town, where we could see the traditional Zanzibar door architecture, we also saw Freddie Mercury’s Birth house (for those who didn’t know he was born here in Zanzibar),little shops with souvenirs and we also had lunch here. You need to be ready for Africa. Nothing fancy for spoiled ones. But everything was good. We ended up our little sightseeing at Forodhani Gardens, which are very nice clean parks next to the main sea walk before we went back to our lovely beach to do nothing.
Recapitulation of an African beach vacation
It was a very relaxing, calm, mind-clearing, lazy holiday with a little bit of spice in it. Africa and beaches are my favorite places, therefore I was enjoying them to the fullest. When you are on the same boat and you got excited about my trip, go ahead and experience it for yourself.