Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Updated: Aug 10, 2022
I visited Zanzibar for a few days for my mum's 50th. We stayed in the older portion of the city called Stone Town and you can see why it is called that. They still have stunning castles made from heavy stone bricks and other remnants of the medieval age. This town is located on the western coast of Unguja (the main island of Zanzibar), and as you can imagine, is one huge beach.
It is a largely Islamic country with diverse influences from Swahili, Arabian, Persian, Indian and European cultures. Be respectful of culture and It is advised that female visitors bring a scarf/shawl to cover their heads and avoid short skirts/dresses when they are not in the hotels/resorts (just so you can blend in, they aren’t threatening people).
Tanzanians are amazing and hospitable people, as a lot of their revenue comes from tourist related activity. Life is different in Zanzibar; the locals take life a day at a time without that Lagos (always in a hurry hustle bustle) attitude. Being a coastal town, they eat a lot of sea food, so if you are a fan of all kinds of fish, lobster, crabs, squid cooked with delicious curries and sauces, you will definitely enjoy visiting. If you are looking to jump right into their cuisine you can check out – Secret Garden (Emerson spice), 6 degrees bar and grill. They also love Nigerian music!
Things we did:
Spice farm tour – This was about an hours’ drive from our hotel. It is a huge orchard where you can see and taste all kinds of spices (FYI East African countries export a lot of spices and tea). We spent about 2 hours walking around, tasting and learning about the different spices and at the end of the tour there was an array of spice packets you could purchase.
Things to bring – Comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes, cash, water.
Stone town guided tour – This, we had a tour guide who took us to the middle of the city which had a lot of shops, restaurants, street stalls, etc. You can find all sorts of interesting things to buy, from fridge magnets to sculptures to paintings. This is probably where most of your money will be going (depending on which hotel you’re staying at).
Things to bring – Comfortable shoes, cash, hat/cap.
Prison island visit – This is an even smaller island about 15 minutes away from mainland stone town. It was built as a prison for rebellious slaves in the 1800’s, but now it’s a tourist attraction. They have a hotel, restaurants and giant tortoises! There were like a hundred giant tortoises and number of them were over 120 years old! The tortoises were my highlight of that activity, as you can tell…
Things to bring – Comfortable shoes, cash, water.
Safari blue cruise – There are numerous activities to do during this cruise as it is an entire days affair. You and your party can pick from a number of fun things to do such as swimming with dolphins, Jet skiing, snorkeling, chilling on yet another beach, and other stuff. So we hopped on the boat for a 30 minute ride, stopped at a shallow cove where you can climb off the boat and go swimming in the clear crisp water, then we went into deeper waters for a snorkeling session, went to a beach to relax and eat, then about late afternoon we got on the boat and were able to see some dolphins on the way back.
Things to bring – Swimwear (Better to wear under your clothes, a light kaftan works well for ladies), Water shoes/Slippers (Nothing fancy, could get lost at sea), Backpack for your phones, water, Sun screen, lip balm, extra shirt, small towel.
Things to note while you’re in Zanzibar:
Stay hydrated – It’s hot and humid and you will be doing a lot of walking.
Tipping - It is customary to give small tips to the guides so carry small amounts of change with you. The hotel reception can give you change on request.
Medicine - Please ensure you have with you all the medication you require. It cannot be guaranteed to be available.
Special Dietary Requirements -If you have any specific or special dietary requirements, you will have to take the pains to communicate to relevant restaurant at least 24 hours before.
• US Passport holder: $100
• UK Passport holder: $50
• Nigerian Passport holder: $50
• Yellow fever card
Note that the documentation requirements are subject to changes, so make sure you look them up when planning your trip!
Emergency Telephone Numbers
• +255 242235669 (Police)
• +255 242231071 (Mnazi Mmoja Hospital)
Awesome place to visit! I have embedded links in the titles of the activities we did to make your searches easier.