Centuries ago, Zanzibar was an important trade hub for the spice industry, and the island is still one of the very few producers of saffron in the world. You should certainly add a spice tour to your list while in the capital of Stone Town. On the visit you’ll see how anise, cloves and pepper grow and many other Asian/Middle East spices including cardamon, cloves and nutmeg.
It’s worth checking out the various street stalls at the famous Forodhani Gardens Night Market, where fishermen bring back their fresh catch including everything from octopus to barracuda to shark. For a less touristy experience try the Darajani Central Market (or Estella Market), which is where the locals shop.
Stone Town is notable for its narrow winding streets and buildings blending Moorish, Middle Eastern, Indian and African art and architecture – a feature of which are some beautifully carved entrances – worthy of a photograph. For a small fee you can see what was once the slave market. You can reach the site alone, but we suggest travelling with a guide (be sure to negotiate the fee first!).
Kwenda beach is situated at the far northwest of the island and is famed for snorkeling and diving. On the reefs surrounding this island paradise you might expect to see angelfish, butterflyfish, Moorish idols, lionfish, surgeonfish, triggerfish, clownfish, damselfish, cuttlefish, crayfish, pufferfish, boxfish, parrotfish, nudibranches, shrimps, crabs, wrasses, snappers, eels, sting rays, dolphins, barracudas, sweet lips, and groupers – to name just a few!! Turtles may also be spotted and night dives under the moonlight are a special highlight.
Zanzibar is a year round destination, but the best time to go is probably between June and September when temperatures are around 25-30 degrees Celsius and you sometimes see some light rainfall. At this time of the year scuba divers will enjoy visibility in excess of 20 metres.
A sunset dhow safari is a highlight of Zanzibar but don’t miss the lively bar scene on shore too. Local beach-bar restaurants dot the water’s edge and offer traditional cuisine, seafood and local cocktails (served in coconuts, if you so choose) and – for those with the energy – full moon parties at Kwenda Rocks (every Saturday following a full moon) make this the ultimate beach experience.
Acacia Africa (020 7706 4700; acacia-africa.com)