In the Indian Ocean, 25 miles off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar has lured traders, adventurers, plunderers and explorers to her shores for centuries as the ideal meeting point between Africa and the Middle East. This continual blending of cultures is well represented in Zanzibar's local people -- an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colourful history. Today, the stunning beaches, historical Stone Town, and world class sea fishing, diving and snorkeling continue to draw travelers from around the world.
Not just one island, Zanzibar is actually an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets, located just 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterized by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. After an adventurous photo safari or strenuous trek up Kilimanjaro, the soft sand beaches and gently lapping waves of Zanzibar are a welcome respite and provide the perfect dose of R&R to conclude your journey to Africa, and there are several lodges and resorts we recommend with high marks, inluding Mnemba Island Lodge, Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, The Palms and the Zanzibar Serena Inn.
Mnemba Island Lodge
Mnemba Island is a totally private island, designated by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the three most romantic destinations in the world. The island shelters just ten cottages or bandas, each banda is completely secluded with private verandah looking onto the soft coral-sand beach.
With staff and guests as the only human inhabitants on the island, Mnemba offers a privacy and exclusivity unparalled on the African coastline.
Mnemba Island features just ten en suite banda cottages, bordered on three sides by tropical beach forest and overlooking the beach and coral reef. Each exquisite banda has been hand-woven and thatched from tree branches and traditional Zanzibari palm-matting. The materials were chosen to allow the cooling sea breezes to move through the bungalow and, assisted by overhead fans; the cottages remain cool all day.
From each room, a palm-covered walkway leads to an en suite turquoise bathroom. The shower water comes from the island's well or boiled rainwater. Each banda also has a spacious outdoor verandah.
Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel
Towards the northern tip of Zanzibar Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel is located on an expanse of beach wilderness. The open-air bar, restaurant and several seating areas for afternoon relaxation provide great refreshment and an extended view of the ocean and coral reef. All rooms are furnished with décor from the region and are positioned to maximize the panoramic sea views and cool island breezes.
Ras Nungwi boasts a fully equipped professional diving center. Other activities include windsurfing, snorkeling, fishing, sailing and a variety of excursions around the island.
Located on the peaceful south eastern coast of Zanzibar, lying on an untouched beach, "The Palms" is the ultimate getaway retreat providing a stunning recluse for the discerning traveler. The six private villas are beautifully designed creating an atmosphere of relaxed, understated elegance. It offers all the luxurious comforts and amenities of a five-star resort in an intimate setting with the most personal attention throughout your stay. The Palms is a sanctuary for those in search of tranquility. A place to stimulate the senses and to experience the very best of the magical island of Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Serena Inn
In the legendary Stone Town of Zanzibar, an island whose very name evokes East Africa's exotic past, stand Zanzibar Serena Inn. The ambience is elegant and romantic. All fifty-one air-conditioned rooms overlook the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. This stunning property is set in two historic seafront buildings that have been masterfully restored. The inn meets the highest standards of luxury hospitality. Extensive recreation and watersport activities are available to guests. Visits to Stone Town's historical landmarks and excursions to neighboring islands and wildlife reserves are made daily.