Stone Town Zanzibar
Travel Zanzibar off-season, there are a lot of perks to it. Enjoy a walk through the Stone Town's narrow, winding streets without hassling over crowds. Locals are out and about, kids playing football, men gathering for a Boa tournament. It is the perfect time for people watching (don't get creepy). Every traditional door tells a story about the first owner of the house. You can tell by the carvings.
Where to stay in Zanzibar?
Rates of boutique hotels are drastically cheaper during the off-season. Stay at Kisiwa House, an old merchant's house that preserves its spirit. On the terrace, have a breakfast made with fresh island fruits, Zanzibar style pancakes, and surprisingly good Zanzibar coffee.
Spice Up Your Experience
Zanzibar is a spice trade center. Why don't you take some back home? In Darajani Bazaar you can buy locally grown spices. Although the most produced spice is clove add some pili pili red pepper and nutmeg to your shopping list. I've been told locals who don't drink alcohol put nutmeg into their drinks to get tipsy. If you are curious about how they make the spices in Darajani Bazaar visit a spice farm.
Darajani Bazaar is near the former slave market. Visit Old Slave Market/Anglican Cathedral to learn about the dark side of island's history. It puts everything in perspective.
Biggest Rookie Mistake
Located in the heart of the of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar has amazing beaches. Don't get couped up in an all-inclusive resort and miss what else the island has to offer. You can enjoy beaches without staying at a resort. Go to Nungwi. Pick a spot and dive into the crystal clear water. Be careful about tides and currents. When you are done swimming, walk towards the lighthouse. On the way, there is a dhow making area. Take a peak. Walk further and find turtle conservation center where you can swim with turtles. Please don't enter the pond if you are wearing sunscreen and bug repellant. It poisons the water. Instagram moments don't worth getting them sick.
The size of the island provides enough time to make two trips to different villages in one day. In the morning, take a short boat ride to Prison Island. Giant turtles are waiting for you to feed them. Come back to Stone Town Cafe for lunch. They have wooden seating and a lot of plants. It is both a delight to your stomach and eyes. In the afternoon visit Jozani Forest and meet some monkeys. Watch the sunset at a beach. Definitely, have some seafood for dinner. Seafood is fresh and very delicious in most restaurants.
Good To Know
The majority of the island practices Islam. Dress respectfully around Stone Town. You can wear bikinis at the beach area. They are used to tourists so alcohol is easy to find. Even when you order a beer at a restaurant that doesn't sell alcohol. They will buy from a nearby market and bring it to you in a paper bag. Always pay in Shillings. Dollar is accepted but you’ll pay less if you pay in Shilling.
Don't drink tap water. Pick where and what you eat carefully. when I was there, there was a Cholera outbreak.
The small airport doesn't have many check-in counters. Keep in mind that there can be long ques. Plan accordingly to have enough time. If you want to enjoy one more cup of Zanzibar coffee before you go, I'm sorry no cafes at the airport. But there is a cute gift shop that sells all kinds of souvenirs. Swing and empty your pockets of the remaining Tanzanian Shillings.