Five reasons to visit Zanzibar

There are few names more attractive or beguiling than Zanzibar.

There are few names more attractive or beguiling than Zanzibar. For centuries the archipelago was one of the world’s great trading hubs, making it a melting pot of African, Indian and Arabian influences.

Today visitors can experience the islands’ distinctive feel by wandering Stone Town’s labyrinthine alleyways, savouring spicy Swahili cuisine or venturing to Pemba or Mafia for some of the Indian Ocean’s finest dive sites.

Kaleidoscopic coral reefs

The seas around the Zanzibar archipelago are some of the best in the world for coral reefs, sandbanks and plentiful marine wildlife. The best diving spots would certainly include the reef around Mnemba Island, those in Mafia’s marine park, and for advanced divers, the challenging waters around Pemba.

The less aquatic might prefer to go snorkelling, and if so they should add Chumbe Island, with its word-class, pristine coral, to their short list of reefs.

A bit of spice

Any trip to Zanzibar should include a spice tour: ask around to make sure you will have a knowledgeable guide. The trip idea may seem clichéd, but plucking everyday spices from what seems like a tangled bit of unruly forest can be fascinating.

The Stone Town

No trip to Zanzibar is really complete without a night or two in Stone Town. Whilst here, take a walk around the narrow alleys, venture into the bustling market on Creek Road, stroll through Forodhani Gardens, relax in Mrembo Traditional Spa, and treat yourself to a rooftop meal on a balmy evening.

A trip on a dhow

A sunset dhow cruise can be magical and romantic, but better still is a dhow trip to a remote sandbar: lie on a deserted beach, snorkel on the reef, eat fresh seafood and look out to nothing but tropical ocean. The upmarket lodges on Mafia all arrange these trips from Chole Bay, whilst on Zanzibar Island, there are similar trips to the Menai Bay Conservation Area.

Remarkable wildlife

For animal lovers, visit the colobus monkey colony in Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, and maybe even drop into the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre next door. Meanwhile, those in search of a much more original, albeit less predictable, experience should consider visiting the community beside Ufufuma Forest.