Spend the Day on Nakupenda Beach – getting out to Nakupenda Beach is simple – simply ask your hotel to arrange a trip with a local dhow out to the island, all inclusive of transport and picnic. The boat will likely depart just near Livingstone Beach and is a choppy but stunning ride out to Nakupenda – a perfect white sand bar that just crops out of the blue ocean, creating an island getaway for the day. Your captain will likely cook up and serve a heaping portion of shrimp, calamari, tuna, and fresh fruits. While you wait, enjoy simple snorkeling and napping under a make shift sun tent. Also, if you have the time, swing by Prison Island to see the massive tortoises clustered together in a protective zoo – you can get up close and personal with them.
Sample Forodhani Gardens Night Market – after a long day in the sun (or napping in your old merchant house in the inner corridors of Stone Town) it’s always fun to take a stroll along the Forodhani Gardens from 6-10pm every night to explore the food stalls and mingle with locals as they cool down and grab informal dinner. Be wary of tourist pricing, and move around from stall to stall until you find a fair price and a fresh batch of grilled Mshikaki.
Catch a Movie (or a concert) at the Old Fort – while the 18th century fort itself is impressive and conveniently located near Forodhani Gardens and Baital Ajaib (the infamous House of Wonders, due to its housing Africa’s first Otis elevator thanks to the Sultan of Oman, the events it hosts are really the draw. From the annual Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF, every July 8th – 16th) to the random music concert, the fort has been converted into one of the most beautiful venues on earth.
Dive Mnemba Atoll – while not as intense as Indonesia, Mnemba offers amazing wall dives (you are likely to spot dolphins and lots of turtles) and incredible noodi branches all over the place! Once you get your fix with the fishes, check out Mafia island for some diving with the whale sharks (October through February).
Tea House @ Emerson Spice – for the ultimate meal, book a table for the Tea House on the roof of Emerson Spice. The prix fixe 5-course tasting menu is a mouth watering feast, exemplifying the local cuisine and spices – with offerings like Lobster King Roll paired with Green Papaya Salad and Pineapple Chutney. Stumble downstairs into your suite and dream like an adventurer.
Tea House @ Emerson on Hurumzi – head here for lunch in the shade with views, or better yet hit the rooftop for sundowners and watch the most beautiful sunset on earth sprawled out on pillows from Morocco.
Lukmaan – if you are having the urge for truly Zanzibari/Tanzanian cuisine, hit up Lukmaan for some local cafeteria-style grub. Get ready for plates of pilau, curries, and beans with fresh kachumbari, a local salsa.
Stone Town Café – for a casual lunch inside Stone Town and simpler but tasty fare. Try anything with some honey ginger tea.
Travellers Café – simple beachside café nestled nearby Serena’s more opulent digs, the Travellers serves up fresh and cheap seafood with an unimpeded view to boot.
Livingstone Beach Restaurant – excellent lazy day beach bar, bustling with everyone from local musicians to yachtsmen. Very low key beach vibe by day, chill jazz bar by night.
Emerson Spice Hotel – the closest experience to staying on the set of the Sheltering Sky, this gem of a hotel oozes character and transports you to a time gone by. You will be hard pressed to find a more exotic experience than waking to the sounds of Stone Town from your personal bungalow in this historic mansion, each room designed by the late Emerson Green. His impressive Tinga Tinga collection also graces the meticulously designed rooms, adding an awe-inspiring element to the design.
White Sand Luxury Villa and Spa – while Zanzibar is littered with boutique guest houses and grand resorts, White Sand balances scale and excellence perfectly. Located in Paje, White Sand offers 11 villas in total, each replete with private pool and terraces – all of which are stunning. The beach is also a dream with private bungalows and dining options. Definitely a must stay, incredible food and décor.
Park Hyatt Stone Town – if you’re looking for ultimate luxury in Stone Town, look no further. The Park Hyatt lives up to the standard of the chain globally, delivering a truly authentic Zanzibar aesthetic combined with modern amenities and comforts. Nothing beats a sundowner on the terrace overlooking Livingstone Beach surrounded by marble and bougainvillea.
Elias Jewelry – a wonderful gem shop based in Zanzibar, specializing in Tanzanite and other gems, making bespoke pieces of every variety. Great staff, fair prices.
Memories of Zanzibar – knick knack shop full of surprises, from handmade leather books to antiques.