Zanzibar is an island located just of the coast of Tanzania in east Africa that holds a special place in our hearts as it is where Nina and I were married. We flew into the small airport in Zanzibar by way of Nairobi, Kenya at night so we really could not see much of the island as we approached and landed. After disembarking the plane, progressing through Border Control was, well, very interesting. You must purchase a visa upon arrival and we were only allowed to pay cash (in local currency). There was a cash machine on the ‘controlled’ side of the Border Control booths where I was told to go get local cash to pay for our visitor visas even though we weren’t yet ‘cleared’ for entry. Weird! Upon leaving the airport in our reserved transfer, we immediately traveled down a short dirt road to the main paved street. It was just after midnight on a Wednesday night and we could not believe the number of people that were out walking or riding bicycles along or in the streets at that time of night. Our driving was constantly weaving to avoid pedestrians! Our hotel was on the northeast side of the island and took about an hour along the main road that was reduced to a dirt road in some places. It seemed a bit dodgy late at night, but once we arrived at our hotel, everything was lovely.
We awoke in our fabulous Neptune Pwani Beach Resort (located on the northeast side of the island) to crystal blue skies and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The ocean was multiple shades of blue, partly due to a large set coral reefs that run along the coast. The sea was gorgeous; clear and warm.
One of the really cool things about the Pwani Beach area was walking along the coral reefs at low tide. We hooked up with a local guide who gave us a pair of rubber-soled water shoes and led us across the coral reefs, which revealed hundreds of colorful starfish, shells, conchs, sea urchins, ink sponges, etc. It was a very interesting and fun two hours! At one point, the guide had acquired several starfish of various colours and stacked them on my head for a picture. And don’t worry all you tree-huggers out there, the starfish were put back in their natural habitat afterwards.
Facts & Figures
— Zanzibar is a semi-autonomously governed state of Tanzania
— Zanzibar was a former British Commonwealth country until their independence in 1963
— The Sultanate of Oman ruled Zanzibar from 1698 to 1890 when the British established Zanzibar as a protectorate
— In 1964, the nation of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged and formed a renamed nation of Tanzania
— Zanzibar and neighboring island Pemba were collectively known as ‘The Spice Islands’ due to their vast spice trade
— Fun Fact: Freddy Mercury (lead singer for the rock band Queen) was born in Stone Town, Zanzibar
— Visitor visa on arrival is required payable in local currency
— Being a former British Commonwealth country, they drive on the left
— Be prepared to see extreme poverty as you transfer from the airport to your resort as seen in the video below
— Many resorts offer 1-day or 2-day African safari excursions to mainland Tanzania (highly recommended!); see our Tanzania African Safari post
— Currency used in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS)
John 15:12 – New Living Translation (NLT)
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
If you are a world trekker like us and want to become more ‘worldly’, then you will want to try our books below. Thanks to the former British Empire and current Commonwealth, the English language is widely spoken across the world, however it is spoken quite differently depending on where you are traveling. We believe the books below are essential to worldly trekkers and think you will find them both fun and informative. The books include a dictionary of everyday words and phrases, traditional cuisine, some history and culture, and other handy information. Simply click on the book covers below to find out more:
Thank you for visiting! Cheers!