Zanzibar, aka The Spice Isle, is fast becoming one of Africa’s most popular islands and you’ll find a flurry of new hotel openings happening there over the next few years. 2017 is definitely the year to visit if you want to say, “I went to Zanzibar before it was cool”. So be quick! Be a trendsetter and get those flights booked on Cheapflights.co.za. Still not quite convinced? Here are 11 reasons why it’s time you visited Zanzibar…Find flights to Zanzibar
It’s the ideal place to pair with a safari holiday
Zanzibar is perfect for adding onto the end of a safari holiday and in 2017, it will continue to grow as a multi-city destination. Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is one of the best places to witness the wildebeest migration and spot the big five. And once you’ve got your fill of wildlife, you can then fly from Kilimanjaro Airport to Zanzibar for some sun, sea and sand.
The diving is out of this world
Ask any pro-diver to list the world’s top diving destinations and you can guarantee they’ll mention Zanzibar. This archipelago is surrounded by coral reefs inhabited by spectacular marine life, from manta rays and vibrant tropical fish to five species of turtle. You’ll find award-winning diving schools offering certified PADI courses and many offer diving trips to the Pemba Island and Mnemba Atoll.
The watersports are world-class
If kitesurfing in an aquamarine lagoon sounds like the dream holiday to you, then make this your year to visit Paje Beach on the island’s south-east coast. It’s here you’ll find Zanzibar Kite Paradise and other award-winning kite surfing schools. In September, nearby Jambiani will host the 2017 Zanzibar Beach and Watersports Festival featuring competitions, workshops, music and entertainment.
Stone Town is a photographer’s dream
Zanzibar is a melting pot of Arabic, African, Indian, Portuguese and indigenous cultures. And anyone who explores the labyrinthine streets of Stone Town in Zanzibar City will see why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 2017, work will continue in restoring the opulent Arabic-style doors that have been here since the Sultanate era. Pack your camera and you could spend a whole afternoon snapping the seafront mansions, ornate facades and historic churches and mosques.
It’s packed with eco and cultural adventures
If you like exploring as much as you like sunning yourself, Zanzibar offers plenty of excursions to alternate with your beach days. Island hopping and dolphin spotting, quad biking, spice tours and trips through the Jozani Forest are some of the best trips here. You’ll find some cultural tours exploring the island’s seaweed industry too.
The sunsets are just wow
Stone Town boasts some of the best sunsets in Zanzibar and watching the sun turn all shades of red and orange almost feels like a religion here. Grab a seat in time for happy hour at Sunset Bar, Africa House. You’ll snap Instagram-worthy shots of dhow boats and watch the locals perform acrobatics on the seafront as you sip zingy sundowners.
It’s loved by foodies
From the exotic fruits served on the coast to the native spices used in its cooking, this island has, arguably, some of the most exciting food in east Africa. Forodhani Night market in Stone Town is a buzzy street food market selling everything from kebabs and seafood to the much talked-about Zanzibar ‘pizza’. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the second Stone Town Food Festival happening in October this year. Seafood curries, biryani and all sorts of Middle Eastern and Swahili-influenced cooking join the long list of must-try dishes here.
There’s a restaurant in the middle of the sea
Head to Michanwi Pingwe beach on Zanzibar’s east coast and you’ll find Rock Restaurant – a seafood joint right in the middle of the ocean. The exciting bit is you may have to take a boat there depending on the tides. Once inside, diners can enjoy fresh seafood, exotic cocktails and dreamy Indian Ocean views.
It’s a great place for a top-to-toe pamper
Spa and wellbeing holidays are booming right now and Zanzibar is joining in on the act as many of its hotels and resorts compete to offer the most luxurious spas. In Stone Town, the aromas of oud incense and products made from local spices and exotic flowers waft into the streets. For an authentic top-to-toe pamper, book in for the ‘Singo scrub’ at The Mrembo Spa, a Swahili spa ritual traditionally used by brides and grooms.
It’s a shopper’s paradise
With street side stalls, open markets and bazaar-like shops, Stone Town is an Aladdin’s Cave for shoppers. If you go with good bartering skills, you’re bound to leave the famous Gizenga Street with armfuls of trinkets, Maasai jewellery and African-inspired homeware. For shops with an eco and socially conscious side, check out Fahari, Zenji Boutique and Upendo Means Love. You’ll find a sprinkling of luxury boutiques and gift shops too.
There’s a buzzing arts scene
Zanzibar has some seriously buzzing events so look out for The Dhow Countries Music Academy and Old Customs House who both hold music events in Stone Town. In July 2017, the town will host the 20th Zanzibar International Film Festival and every year, artists gather for Sauti za Buzara, one of Africa’s best music festivals. On the coast, you’ll find some great beach bars such as Red Monkey Lodge and Music Café in Jambiani, offering live music.
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