A tropical island getaway is always a good idea, but if you're looking for a destination that's totally unique and free from the hoards of travellers escape to the paradise that is Zanzibar. Even the name itself is enough to conjure up exotic, romantic Indian Ocean fantasies. But this is one island that lives up to its sultry reputation.
Although it’s just a 20-minute plane trip from mainland Africa – and Tanzania’s crowded capital Dar Es Salaam – you’ll travel centuries back in time to the era of the Oman sultans who once ruled Zanzibar and left an indelible mark on its architecture, food and religion and to its British colonial past, where waiters, resplendent in coat and tails and white gloves, still serve cocktails while the sun sets into the sea, amidst an Indian Ocean teeming with dhow boats carrying local ﬁshermen.
The island's capital, Stone Town, is one of the world’s most interesting ‘cities’ with its fusion of Arabic, Indian, African and European architecture. Leave the city and you’ll discover coastlines of empty, white sandy beaches and shockingly turquoise waters with charming villages and a fertile interior of spice plantations.
Zanzibar offers the best of Africa, the Middle East and Europe all rolled into one exotic package. If you're hesitant about visiting Africa, feel at ease knowing that the island experiences less crime than on the mainland – but like anywhere, don't be too complacent.
In this exotic oasis you’ll ﬁnd some of Africa’s best beaches, but the destination is more than just sand and sunshine. Fall in love with the majesty and charm of Zanzibar's villages and be sure to pick up a souvenir from the many craftsman that pepper the streets with market stalls.
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When you spend some time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town and explore the island’s turbulent history preserved so beautifully in its streetscape (it was a major slaving port), do a spice tour, take a walk through a slave cave and if you’re game, take a boat to Pemba, Zanzibar’s far lesser explored neighbour.
Whether you're a thrill-seeking couple, history buffs or two people seeking relaxation, Zanzibar is the place to go. A beautiful fusion of beaches, historic towns and vibrant culture, its one holiday spot you'll want to visit again and again.
Where to stay
Splurge – Elewana Kilindi Zanzibar
A romantic and private paradise awaits couples at Elewana Kilindi Zanzibar. Situated on the north-west coast of Zanzibar, the resort is surrounded by 50 acres of lush tropical gardens and spectacular views of the Indian Ocean's glittering waters.
You'll feel like an A-list couple – perhaps due to the fact that Kilindi Zanzibar was designed for ABBA'S Benny Andersson – when you stay in one of the resort's glamorous white-domed Pavilion guest rooms, decked out with all the mod-cons and stunning Middle Eastern touches. White wooden-slatted shutters open out to picturesque ocean views, while adjoining 'rainfall' shower Pavilions and a host of modern conveniences make the pavilions a truly sumptuous place to stay.
Make sure you top off your stay at Elewana Kilindi Zanzibar with a cooling dip in their 25-metre infinity pool, featuring a 'waterfall' bar and picture-perfect vistas. The Kilindi Spa is also a must-visit, offering a range of indulgent treatments and experiences.
Save – Emerson on Hurumzi
If it's charm you're looking for, Emerson on Hurumzi in the heart of Stone Town is the place to stay. Built in the 1870s, the hotel was once the place where Arabian slave owners were paid by the British to free their captives. Now a haven of traditional architecture and luxurious conveniences, Emerson on Hurumzi features six newly refurbished double rooms, two double rooms and two suites.