What to see and Do..
Zanzibar has variety of things to offer for your Memorable Stay.
- Stone Town
- Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey
- Dolphin Tour
- Pemba (island) Flying FOX
- Events and Festivals
- City Tour
- Water Sports
- Golf and other Sports
- Spice Tour
The Old Dispensary (now known as the Stone Town Cultural Centre) is a grand four story building with a set of decorative balconies.The Old Dispensary (now known as the Stone Town Cultural Centre) laid in 1887, the building was only completed in 1894. Built by Tharia Thopen, one of Zanzibar's richest men to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It served as a dispensary during colonial times but fell into disrepair in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It is one of the Stone Town buildings that have been successfully restored, in this case with funding from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. It can be found on Zanzibar’s seafront on Mizingani road.
The Arab Fort (Old Fort) is situated next to the House of Wonders and was built between 1698 and 1701 by the Busaidi group of Omani Arabs. It is a large building with high, dark brown walls topped by castellated battlements. The Arabs used the fort to defend themselves against the Portuguese and against a rival Omani group. In recent years it has been partially renovated to house the Zanzibar Cultural Centre. In an inner courtyard lies a stone-built amphitheatre that hosts performances of local music and dance, such as Taarab, Zanzibar’s most popular form of music. There is a small tourist information office, a gift shop.
The Anglican cathedral Christ Church (or Church of Christ) is a landmark historical church in Stone Town, Zanzibar as well as one of the most prominent examples of early Christian architecture in East Africa. It was built in ten years, starting from 1873, based on a vision of Edward Steere, third Anglican bishop of Zanzibar, who actively contributed to the design. As most buildings in Stone Town, it is made mostly of coral stone. It has a unique concrete roof shaped in an unusual barrel vault (that was Steere's idea) and the overall structure mixes perpendicular gothic and Islamic details. The cathedral was consecrated in 1903 and named after the Canterbury Cathedral. The church is located in Mkunazini Road, in the centre of the old town, and occupies a large area where the biggest slave market of Zanzibar used to be; the construction of the cathedral was in fact intended to celebrate the end of slavery. The altar is said to be in the exact place where the main "whipping post" of the market used to be. In the square there is a well-known monument to the slaves (a few human figures in chains emerging from a pit) as well as a museum on slavery. Edward Steere died of a heart attack when the cathedral was almost completed, and was buried behind the altar. Inside the church there is a cross that was made from the wood of the tree that grows on the place where David Livingstone’s heart was buried, in Chitambo.
Hamamni Persian Baths:
Built by sultan Said Barghash in the late 19th century, the Hamamni Persian Baths were the first public baths in Zanzibar. Although they are no longer functioning, they are maintained in near-perfect condition. There is a nominal entrance fee, which goes towards the upkeep of the building. Explanatory plaques are situated at salient points around the baths and chambers.
Fruit, Spice & Food Market
The Fruit, Spice and Food Market, built in 1904, is about halfway along Creek Road (now renamed Benjamin Mkapa) is a good place for shopping and sightseeing. It is an attractive place full of fresh farm produced, but the most evocative products are the scented spices and seafood. People from various part of Zanzibar bring their produce, while petty traders have outside stalls surrounding the big market hall, where they sell industrial products ranging from sewing machines to second hand clothes and motor vehicle spear parts.
Forodhani is a popular waterfront on the heart of Zanzibar town. Every evening, it is filled with people wishing to cool down from the heat of the day by tasting a collection of delicacies and grilled foods and finishing up with cool cold drinks. There are dishes brought by Arabs (Omanis, Yemenis and Persians), Indian, Europeans and even Chinese. But most popular dishes are Pilau, Biryan, Chicken chips, Zanzibar mix (Urojo) and Zanzibar Pizza. To witness the beauty of sunset in Zanzibar the best place to be is at Stone Town. You can sit at the Forodhani Park for amazing view of the sea as well as a nice breeze to cool you down.. Forodhani is a no miss for everyone.
though pristine beaches are what most tourists think about when they think about Zanzibar, spending some time walking aro around the Darajani market is a fantastic way to learn about the culture of Zanzibar and to observed local lifestyle. If you visi visit Stone Town, spend an hour navigating Darajani Market for an awesome experience.
the Shopping strip is a fun walk, however, the things available in the bazaar are mostly imported from China and India.
The palace was built in late 19th century to serve as a residence for the Sultan’s family. After the Zanzibar Revolution, in 1964 it was formally renamed to People's Palace. In 1994, it became a museum about the Zanzibari royal family and history. The ground floor displays details of the formative period of the sultanate from 1828 to 1870 during which commercial treaties were signed between Zanzibar, United States of America, Britain and France. Inside the museum is the memorabilia of Princess Salme, best known as Emily Ruete, former Zanzibari princess who fled from the sultanate to relocate in Europe with her husband; the exhibits include some of her writings, clothes and daily life accessories. The exhibits on the 2nd floor focus on the period of affluence from 1870 to 1896 during which modern amenities such as piped water and electricity were introduced to Zanzibar under Sultan Barghash. The third floor consists of the modest living quarters of Sultan Khalifa bin Haroub (1911 to 1960) and his two wives, both of whom clearly had different tastes in furniture. For the first time, visitors can see much of the Sultans’ furniture and other possessions that survived the revolution.
Zanzibar National Museum of History & Culture
The House of Wonders (Beit-al-Ajaib) is a very large square-shaped building, with several stories, surrounded by tiers of pillars and balconies, and topped by a large clock tower. It was built in 1883 as a ceremonial palace for Sultan Barghash and was the first in Zanzibar to have electric light and an electric lift. Not surprisingly, when it was built, the local people called it Beit el Ajaib, meaning the House of Wonders. It was damaged in 1896 during the Shortest War in History (only lasting 40 minutes), the palace was the target of British bombardments intended to force the Sultan Khalid bin Barghash, who had tried to seize the throne after the death Sultan Hamad, to abdicate in favour of a British nominee.
After its rebuild, Sultan Hamad, who ruled Zanzibar from 1902 to 1911, used its upper floor as a residential palace until his death. Nowadays the house is used a National Museum of History & Culture. Inside it houses exhibits on the dhow culture of the Indian Ocean (ground floor) and on Swahili civilisation and 19th-century Zanzibar (1st floor). Everything is informatively labelled in English and Swahili, and well worth visiting. Just inside the entrance is a life-size mtepe – a traditional Swahili sailing vessel made without nails, the planks held together with only coconut fibres and wooden pegs. The building is undergoing major repair and it’s closed at the moment.
Peace Memorial Museum
The Peace Memorial Museum (Beit el Amani) was designed by the British architect J H Sinclair, who also designed the high court, the British residency and several other public buildings around Zanzibar town. The beautiful spherical design of the National Museum acknowledges Zanzibar's Arab influence and is reminiscent of the eastern architecture of Istanbul and India. It is a great place to discover the intriguing history and culture of the islands. The Peace Memorial Museum contains exhibits and records which make up the rich history of Zanzibar, from the early days of the Omani Sultans and the British colonial period right up until independence. This magnificent structure houses old and new history books, a selection of archaeological findings, plus records of early trade, slavery, palaces, mosques, sultans, explorers and missionaries, in addition to exhibits of traditional crafts, stamps and coins.
Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys
Jozani forest lies about 35 km south-east of Zanzibar town. It contains about 100 tree species from a total of 43 families. One of the most famous and endearing residents of the Jozani National Park is the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey. Found only on the main island of Zanzibar, the Zanzibar Red Colobus is recognised as a separate species and is said to be endemic to Zanzibar. A visit to Zanzibar is not compete without seeing one of the rarest monkeys in Africa, with less than 2000 remaining in the world. Colobus Monkeys are leaf-eating arboreal spices and spend most of their time in trees. It is somewhat surprising to find, therefore, that the opposable thumb deemed most essential for dexterous arboreal primates, is reduced to a mere stump in the Colobus family (hence the name Colobus-from the Latin for “deformed”).
Tour begins after breakfast when you are picked up from your hotel and transfered to the fishing village of Kizimkazi. Before the tour start you will be given a life jacket demonstration followed by a briefing on the day's excursion. You will then board the dhows and set off in search of the Dolphins (85% chances). The species frequently found at Menai Bay are Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins. You will be able to swim with the dolphins as long as they stay close to the boat, but is unlikely to be able to touch them, as they are of course wild animals. During the tour the guide will send youto one of the selected snorkeling locations. On the way to your hotel you will have an opportunities to visit the site of a 12th Century mosque, the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa, and is thus worth a visit for both natural and cultural reasons
The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre is the largest butterfly enclosure in East Africa. The tour can take 30 – 40 minutes where you can inspect the tiny butterfly eggs, touch and hold the hungry caterpillars and watch them nibble away at the leaves. Admire the beauty of the butterfly pupae before witnessing the butterflies hatching and opening out to become a butterfly. The visitor can roam around the magical garden, taking pictures of the butterflies and enjoying nature's treasures.During the tour visitors will be able to see many of Zanzibar's exotic butterfly species and witness, close up, every stage of their amazing life-cycle. Zanzibar Butterfly Centre is a popular Zanzibar tourist attraction, especially for school age children and their families. It is among the community based tourism attraction whereby revenue generated by visitors provides funds for local projects in the form of alternative livelihoods (Butterfly farmers were previously engaged in deforestation activities), conservation and poverty alleviation.
Pemba Flying Fox
The Pemba flying fox has a charismatic fox or dog-like face which is covered with a coat of bright auburn fur. These bats represent the largest fruit bats in the world. Although they weigh just about 400 – 650g, their wings can span over 5.5 feet across. They live in large social colonies of up to 850 individuals. Their diet consists mainly of fruit such as figs, breadfruit, and mangos, as well as nectar, pollen, flowers, and leaves. They are an important species for seed dispersal because they carry fruit and plant seeds in their digestive system to other parts of the island. The conservation of this bat instills a sense of pride and progress in the local people who actively participate to preserve their local environment. The economic returns garnered through this small community tourism project have already proven to be a great help in strengthening their community.
Events and Festivals
Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF)
Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) presents the annual Festival of the Dhow Countries during the first two weeks of July. The festival celebrates the arts and cultures of the African continent, the Gulf States, Iran, India, Pakistan and the islands of the Indian Ocean, collectively known as the Dhow countries. The centre piece of the festival is a film programme consisting of both competition and non-competition screenings. Fiction and documentary film and video productions compete for Golden and Silver Dhow Awards.
While competition films are limited to productions with Dhow country connections, the festival programme includes films/videos from all over the world addressing themes which reflect concerns within the Dhow countries. Activities and events include music, theatre and dance performances, workshops and exhibitions. A large music programme also runs for the festival featuring artists from Tanzania alongside international musician. Many of these events are staged in Old Fort (Ngome Kongwe) and Forodhani Gardens and free to the public. There are also workshops and seminars for women and children, and Village Panoramas which reach about forty villages across the Zanzibar islands of Unguja and Pemba.
Sauti za Busara Festival
Every February for the past decade, the island of Zanzibar has hosted East Africa's best -loved and now largest - music festival in East Africa. Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom). A three -day cultural extravaganza of focusing in showcase a diversity of performing arts which are all rooted in Swahili language and traditions .The festival attract artist from all edges of the continent and from an ever growing scope of languages,musical genres and political stances.
Zanzibar Cultural Day
The Festival takes place at 19th of July in each year. The event is marked by cultural dances, road shows, Taarab Performances, exhibitions, art and craft and the likes. Drawing participants from many countries such as Mozambique, Kenya, Comoro, Germany, China and India . Zanzibar Cultural Festival has become very popular in Sub Saharan Africa.
Zanzibar Beach & Watersports Festival
Zanzibar Beach & Watersports festival is a three day annual festival celebrating beach life, culture and music. Main location is in Jambiani on Mfumbwi beach (South East Coast- Zanzibar).The festival comprises different sports including goat racing, dhow racing , 'nage' for women, beach soccer tournament, beach run, kayak racing, kite surfing, touch rugby, tug of war, beach paintball fight, Masai high jump, beach volleyball tournament, mountain bike racing, seminars for children, music from famous different artists local and foreign.
The stone town tour, the city tour, takes you around the capital town to experience historically, culturally and architecturally richness of Zanzibar Islands. Usually the tour starts at 8:30 am and take 2 to 3 hours depend on the places to be visited. Most of the important buildings and places (historical monuments) are within the town’s municipal environs such as Anglican Cathedral built on the former slave market, the house of the famous slave trader (Tip Tip house), Hamamni Bath, Darajani market (fish and fruits market), the Old Portuguese Fort, the house of wonders (Zanzibar National Museum of History & Culture) and the home of world famous musician, Freddy Mercury. The guide will also show you the beautiful pattern of Zanzibar door and on the way you will have a chance to walk around the narrow streets of Stone Town where most of the houses date back more than 150 years. You will see many bazaars, curio shops, restaurants, and variety of stores selling souvenirs.
Steeped in history, Stone Town in Zanzibar was once the biggest business center of East Africa. In it’s earlier days it was the hub for trading ivory, spices and slaves. Power has changed hands numerous times over the years; the Portuguese, Arabs, Sultans of Oman and English have all had their influence on this unique and fascinating town which has created an incredible mix of architecture and culture. It is a fascinating look into the history and culture that has shaped this island and is something that should not be missed
The sea of Zanzibar is calm for most of the year and it is ideal for waterskiing and wake-boarding. Those companies that are engaged in this kind of sport have powerful speedboats that produces the perfect ride, flexible for all levels. The skis are suitable for beginners and you can also be given you pointers to improve your skills. This activity is available throughout Zanzibar, particularly on the north coast. They can be done through local companies on the island that have all the most recent equipment you will need and this will ensure that it is safe and enjoyable.
Zanzibar is a great place for kite surfing. Here we have the perfect conditions for beginners and more experienced kiters. Shallow blue waters, sandy bottoms & constant winds make Zanzibar an idyllic place to kite surf. The reef is far out and here for the first part is flat water, perfect for beginners and freestylers. The reef itself gives you amazing waves for the more experienced kite surfer.
Zanzibar is endowed with very attractive diving site; most of the diving schools operate on PADI, or SSI and very few on NUI. These companies may accommodate up to 60 divers at a time and vary from open watercourses, to dive master. The depth of water is in the order of 12metres - 120 meters, drift and deep dives. Octopus, moray eel, can be located during diving. The most attractive spots for scuba diving are …...
The most famous place for snorkeling in Zanzibar is the beautiful Mnemba Marine Reserve. There are about three different places to snorkel. The area is well known for its fish life and you can expect to see lion fish, moray eels, stingrays and turtles swimming around in the shallows. If you venture further out the reef drops away into a big wall where you will see emperor fish hunting, yellow snappers, barracuda and if you are lucky napoleon fish and turtles.
The sunsets in Zanzibar can be stunning and the best way to get an uninterrupted view from the deck of a sailing dhow. The comfortable traditional style boats are used for sailing around and past the fishing fleet, allowing for some great photo opportunities.
The traditional dhow under the power of sail and enjoy the feeling of the wind at your back, just as the old Arab traders have done. Some have board and out board engines. Cruising around the small island is fantastic especially when combined with the sun set watching.
This kind of sport is available in some hotels. The coastline around Zanzibar is very varied and interesting. There many places to be explored and the best way is by kayaks. Those who have this kind of sport they have two man boats so you can enjoy the trip with your partner, or single person kayaks if you fancy a bit of privacy.
Tourists can enjoy the best views in Zanzibar - from the sky! From 300 meters in the air, see the brilliant colors of the coral reef around the Island. Here you will have the chance to fly like a bird and to defy gravity. It's an adventure anyone, from 8 to 80 years old, can enjoy because there is no running or jumping, and no experience is necessary.
Big Game Fishing
In Zanzibar game fishing is based at the northern part of the island. Tourists can clients to enjoy some of Africa’s best deep sea fishing grounds. The channel between Zanzibar and Pemba in particular, is an internationally renowned site consistently providing first-rate big game fishing opportunities.
Feel the wind in your hair and salt spray on your face as you zip across the Gulf. Personal watercraft, usually called “jet ski,” are a longtime favorite for fun in the sun at Zanzibar Beach, whether riding solo or on a 2- seat. Drive your own jet ski, follow the guide, and go on an unforgettable journey of jet-skiing and sightseeing.
Golf and Other Sports
A stunning closing short hole, played from an elevated tee, straight towards the ocean. The green is again situated right on the beach – any shot over the green will end up on the beach or in the ocean.
Bullfighting is a popular, traditional and annual sport in Pemba Island. Pemba bullfights are relic of Portuguse occupation of the island, which occurred during the16th and17th centuries. Drum beats, men and women sing local songs to make the event lively and spur on both bull and manador.
On the actual fight, the bull is brought to the small platform where women sing and clap their hands to arouse the bull’s anger. A special traditional trumpet is sounded adjacent to the ears of the bull for the same purpose. Then the bull is set free into the ground having one rope at its neck for emergence.. The man on the ground who want to fight the bull take a piece of mat, and as the bull moves head fast to him, he plays it off and the whole ground applaud. When one bull becomes tired it is replaced by another and sometime the whole fight may involve 4 to 6 bulls.
Unlike bullfighting elsewhere, in Zanzibar at the end of the fight the bull remains a live and is trained for the forthcoming game. There is no specific dates when the bullfighting’s are organized but sometime it is done after clove harvesting or during the state ceremony such as Revolutionary Day of Zanzibar.
Spices from Zanzibar are famous around the world and a holiday to Zanzibar would be incomplete without a visit to the spice plantations. The spice tours are actually quite informative and good value. Spice tour is probably the best way of seeing the countryside and meeting members of rural communities. Any authorized guide or tour company can arrange a spice tour for you. The geographical nature of the island makes the spice tour to be organized in many villages both in Unguja and Pemba. However, the very popular village for spice tour is Kijichi or Kizimbani, approximately 5 kilometers from Stone town. The tour starts from 8:30 am and takes 2 to 3 hours depending on the activities to be done.
You will be overwhelmed by the abundance of botanical species growing in these gardens – exotic spices, fruits and vegetables. Many of the spices have medicinal properties and are still used by the local population to cure certain maladies. Savor different spices, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla or black pepper. Taste a variety of fruits ranging from the rose apple to the guava. Some rare plants like henna, perfume tree and lipstick tree are used for their value in preparing cosmetics. Tour guides will take you on a walking tour of the spice farms at Kizimbani or Kidichi; picking bunches of leaves, fruits and twigs from bushes and inviting you to smell or taste them to guess what they are. Pretty much all the ingredients of the average kitchen spice rack are represented – cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, ginger, chilies, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla – the list goes on and on. Tour guides also take you to the interior of the island, so you'll get an idea of village / farm life in Zanzibar.
Mangapwani Slave Chamber
The Mangapwani Slave Chamber is about 20 Kilometers North of Stone Town . Zanzibar Slave Chambers that built around 1880 from the cave and connected to the seaside 2kms away. It was an important transit point for the captured slaves to be sold to the outside world at the time of the abolishment of slavery in 1873 especial in the Middle East Between 1880 - 1905, the Slave Chamber was being used as a place of concealment of the human cargo pending their disposal. The Slave Chamber is a square underground cell that was cut out of the coralline rock, with a roof on top. The area is surrounded by varieties of indigenous trees such as Breadfruit, Rambotans and scent shrubs. The chamber was originally built by Mohammed Bin Nassor Al-Alwi, a prosperous slave trader, to store his slaves. Boats from Bagamoyo on the Tanzania Mainland would unload their human cargo on a secluded beach, separated from the main Mangapwani Beach by coral-rock outcrops. The dirt path from the beach to the Slave Chamber still exists today
Kidichi Persian Baths
The Persian Baths at Kidichi are located northeast of Stone Town, about 4 kilometers inland from the main coast road, in the main plantation area of the island. They were built in 1850 by Sultan Said who owned land nearby. He and his second wife, Bint Irich Mirza (also called Schesade or Sherazade), would come here for hunting excursions and to oversee the work on their plantations. The bath-house was built so they could refresh themselves after the journey from town. Because Schesade was granddaughter to the Shah of Persia, the baths were built in the typical Persian style of the time, with significant decorative stucco work and an underground furnace to keep the bath water warm. Unfortunately, the bath-house has not been well maintained, and mould grows on much of the beautiful stucco work. The domed ceiling contains a circle of small windows that used to be stained glass and would cast beautiful light patterns over the white walls. Today, you can enter the bath-house, and see the changing room, bathing pool and massage tables.
David Livingstone is probably the best-known of all the 19th century European explorers in Africa. Many of his journeys began and ended in Zanzibar, and he lived in this house before departing on his final journey to identify the source of the Nile. The house was built around 1860 by Sultan Majid and is located on the northeast side of Stone Town. It was used by Livingstone and other missionaries and explorers such as Burton, Speke, Cameron and Stanley as a starting point for expeditions into eastern and central Africa during the second half of the 19th century. In the early 20th century, the house was used by members of the island's Indian community for a variety of purposes. In 1947, it was bought by the colonial government and became a scientific laboratory for research into clove diseases. After independence and the revolution it became the Zanzibar headquarters of the Tanzania Friendship Tourist Bureau and then the main office of the Zanzibar Tourist Corporation (ZTC). Today, this old building is now the headquarters of Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agricultures (ZNCCIA).
The Kizimkazi Mosque is believed to be the oldest Islamic building on the East African Coast, and it is still in use today. It is located on the southern tip of the main island of Zanzibar in the village of Kizimkazi – Dimbani. According to the record, it was built in 1107 under the order of Sheikh Said bin Abi Amran Mfaume al Hassan bin Muhammad by settlers from Shiraz, Iran. However, another inscription tells of a major rebuilding of the mosque in 1772-1773. Although much of the coral detailing and column shafts date from the original construction in the twelfth century, the majority of the current structure is from the rebuild in the 18th century. More recently, the east wall of the mosque has been reconstructed and the roof of the mosque has been replaced with one of corrugated metal. Around the mosque are several seventeenth century tombs decorated with pillars, one of which notes Sheikh Ali bin Omar, a man with one arm and one leg.
St. Joseph's Cathedral
Is an important historical building located in the Baghani area of Stone Town, Zanzibar. It was built by French missionaries between 1893 and 1898, and the plans were drawn by the same French architect who designed the cathedral in Marseilles, France. The defining characteristic of the cathedral are its twin spires (similar to those of Marseille’s church) which are prominent elements of the Stone Town’s skyline and can be easily spotted from a distance off the coast. The cathedral interior is painted with murals from the Old Testament. The tiles and stained glass windows were all imported from France. The cathedral is in regular use by Stone Town’s Catholic community. There are several masses held each Sunday and occasionally on weekdays.
Maruhubi Palace Ruins
The ruins of Maruhubi Palace are only four kilometers north of Zanzibar Town, just a few steps from the beach. The palace is named after its former owner, an Arab from the Al-Marhuby tribe. The palace was built by Sultan Barghash, the third Arab sultan of Zanzibar, between 1880-1882. Sultan Barghash used the palace to house his wife and up to 100 concubines, while he himself lived in a separate palace in Zanzibar Town. Maruhubi Palace was destroyed by a fire in 1899, leaving few remains including the large stone columns which had once supported a large wooden balcony that circumnavigated the upper floor. In the old Persian-style bathhouse, the separate bathrooms for the women and the Sultan's own large bathroom can still be viewed. The grounds are spotted with shade trees, large lawn areas, and the original water reservoirs now overgrown with water lilies and large mango trees once imported from India. When viewing, it is not hard to imagine a magical garden where the royal elite would entertain their guests.
Zanzibar is also has Massage Centre, Spa and Yoga Centers.