Related

Watch a glorious sunset (hmheale79)

10 things to do for free in Zanzibar

16th February 2011

There’s more to Zanzibar than pricey hotels and sunloungers – from overgrown palaces to forest trails, we pick the Spice Island’s best giveaways

Hazel Plush

1. Take in the view

Sailing from Pemba or Dar es Salaam, the approach into Stone Town’s Zanzibar Port gives a wonderful view of the waterfront, from the balconies of the Old Customs House to the clocktower of Sultan Barghash’s Beit al-Ajaib (House of Wonders).

2. Lose yourself in the streets

Hurumzi, the heart of Stone Town, is a labyrinth of packed houses and slender alleyways – but getting lost has never been so fun. Sip bitter coffee in tiny cafés, browse dusty antique stalls and have a guess at what lies behind all those heavy studded doors…

3. Watch an imperial sunset

Africa House Hotel once provided a haven of cricket matches and costume balls for its elite British members. Now renovated, its ocean-facing bar is one of the finest places to enjoy a sundowner – but the terrace is open to paupers, too.

4. Make friends with some monkeys

Jozani forest’s most famous residents are the Kirk’s red colobus monkeys – endemic to Zanzibar Island. Entry to the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park is $8 (£5), but the monkeys don’t stick to boundaries –a troop can often be spotted near the gate.

5. Escape to a prison island

Head out early for a morning’s birdwatching in Changuu Island’s lush coral rag forest, then grab a snorkel to explore the shallow reef. The island, a penal colony in the 19th century, is also home to giant tortoises and a sweeping white-sand beach.

6. Breathe in the blossoms

Scottish botanist Sir John Kirk (who named the monkeys) came to Zanzibar in 1870 and created Mbweni’s botanical gardens, now part of the Mbweni Ruins Hotel. Pop in for lunch or tea, then enjoy the 650 plant species in the garden for nowt.

7. Find a quiet retreat

Tucked away west of the mangrove-fringed Chwaka Bay, Chwaka is a quiet fishing village where you can watch the pink sunrise over Michamvi Peninsula, browse the open-air market, then enjoy the bustle as fishermen trade their catch.

8. Explore royal ruins

Sultan Barghash built Maruhubi Palace in 1882 for himself and his wife – and his 99 concubines. The palace itself was destroyed by fire in 1899, but dark tales of ritual executions and carnal desire still remain.

9. Re-trace the past

Mangapwani’s idyllic shoreline hides a dark secret. Its dank cells, hollowed out inside the soft coral rock, were used by slave traders to hide their wares from the British Navy’s anti-slavery patrols.

10. Party in paradise

Swimming and sunbathing are the main events in chilled-out Kendwa, but time your visit carefully and you’ll catch the legendary full moon party – a free knees-up that brings the sleepy town to life.

And one to break the bank

Standing tall in the centre of Stone Town, 236 Hurumzi (formerly the Emerson & Green Hotel) is a sumptuous re-imagining of Zanzibar’s royal palaces. A grand staircase leads to the rooms, each of which is dressed with lavish throws, hand-woven carpets and antique Zanzibari treasures. The building itself was once home to Sir Tharia Topan, advisor to Sultan Barghash – and his opulent style lives on.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!

 Your Comments (0)

MAKE IT HAPPEN

loading...

Key Facts

  • Zanzibar

    Zanzibar travel overview, including essential Zanzibar holiday info, map of Zanzibar, articles and advice on travel and adventure in Zanzibar

  • More Experiences

Destinations

Advice

select
select
select
select
Departure date:
RadDatePicker
RadDatePicker
Open the calendar popup.
Return date:
RadDatePicker
RadDatePicker
Open the calendar popup.
Date flexibility:
Spin UpSpin Down
Search

Need some travel planning inspiration?

Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.

Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking. Enjoy!

Search
Email

Wanderlust in your inbox

Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!





I have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions

Submit