Zanzibar Tanzania offers many charms for the visitor. There are gorgeous soft sand beaches to relax on, amazing scuba diving opportunities to take advantage of, a rich mix of cultures to encounter, and plenty of fresh seafood to indulge in. Add in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Stone Town and the warm, hospitable nature of the locals, and it only becomes more clear that this semi-autonomous island off the Tanzania coast can make for a great place to get away from it all.
The Zanzibar Archipelago consists of the main island of Unguja, the island of Pemba, and a collection of smaller islands. Unguja is the island proper of Zanzibar and ranks as both the largest and the most populated island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. On its west coast is where you will find historic Stone Town. Unguja has the most developed tourism industry in the area and is where most Zanzibar Archipelago tourists first arrive. In Stone Town, visitors can take a tour or shop for souvenirs before heading off to one of the island’s tantalizing beaches. Other Unguja activity options include exploring the last remaining indigenous forest on the island, swimming with the dolphins of Kizimkazi, and arranging snorkeling or scuba diving off the renowned Mnemba Atoll.
Pemba Island is the second largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago and can be found approximately 30 miles north of the main island of Unguja. Much like Unguja, it offers plenty for the visitor to enjoy, including indigenous forests and palm-lined beaches. There are differences as well. Pemba Island is more lush than Unguja, has much less residents, and maintains a less busy tourism industry. The less exploited nature of Pemba is something that many travelers actually prefer in the long run, and diving enthusiasts are likely to fall in love with the island’s immaculate diving opportunities. The coral reefs found just offshore are beautiful to say the least, and the relative lack of human presence only accentuates the natural bliss that is associated with Pemba diving and Pemba visits on the whole. Pemba tourism is on the rise for good reason.
Most of the Zanzibar hotels are found on the main island of Unguja, with the island’s east coast beaches being home to the greatest concentration of large resorts. Complementing these resorts are more intimate boutique hotels, some of which have a rather rustic edge, so visitors can choose accordingly. A couple of other enticing resorts can also be found on the north coast of Unguja, and much like the southeast coast, the north coast also features a variety of cheap accommodations that cater to the budget-minded traveler. Of course, no discussion about the Zanzibar hotels would be complete without mentioning the Mnemba Island Lodge. A small and trendy resort, this lodge occupies a tiny island off the northeast coast of Unguja and is widely considered to be one of the most romantic lodging establishments in all of Africa. As for more Zanzibar lodging options, travelers can always turn to Pemba Island. This relatively undeveloped island isn’t home to nearly as many hotels as Unguja, though there are a few inviting lodges and resorts to select from.
The Zanzibar Archipelago, as is true of the Serengeti, is one of Tanzania’s most highly prized natural assets. As such, it is little wonder that tourism is a strong and growing industry in the island region. As far as getting there is concerned, it is possible to fly to the airport on the island of Unguja. It is also possible to take a ferry from the mainland Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam or embark on a cruise that includes Zanzibar as a port of call. Among the options when it comes to Zanzibar cruises is to take a relatively short cruise from the Kenyan port city of Mombasa or a longer cruise that can embark from any number of interesting world destinations, such as Dubai or South Africa’s Cape Town. The longer Zanzibar cruises can last a month or more, it should be noted, while the shorter cruises from Mombasa are often four-day affairs or something the like.