Besides stunning beaches, Zanzibar has enough to explore at least for a week of travel. TripAdvisor is a good source to see many of the options at a glance and in this post I will only list what we have experienced personally during our trip and some thoughts on each point.
Catholic Church in Stone Town, Zanzibar
Unbelievable many tourist skip the capital of Zanzibar and head straight to their resorts. It is definitely worth staying at least a night or doing a day tour to Stone Town. Most, if not all areas of interest are located within Old Town’s boundaries. You can walk by yourself, however be prepared to withstand constant attacks of touts offering you all sorts of things.
You could also agree and get someone offering you a walking tour to take you around the town. This way you’ll see most interesting spots, learn the history and peacefully walk around, as touts won’t approach you while you’re with a local. Expect to pay around $5 for a tour.
There are also a lot of nice restaurants in Stone Town, so make sure to have a few meals there.
Village tour of Jambiani
I’d say this was the most memorable part of our trip. This was not arranged through an agency or hotel, but rather through a local working at the place we stayed in. We often talked with him through our stay and just asked if he would like to show us his village. Seeing how locals live, visiting the houses and talking to people in the village is the best experience we could get on the trip. So I really recommend you doing the same.
If you’d like to see Jambiani, let me know, I can provide email and phone number of the person who did it for us.
Seaweed center in Paje
It costs $10 per person and they would take you around the center to show how the soap is manufactured using seaweed. The focus is on helping the local community and they do indeed employ about 10 women from Jambiani. However, to me this looks more like a place specially setup for tourists. If I was there one more time, I’d rather visit one of the “real” seaweed farms in the area that locals mentioned.
Jambiani Tourism Training Institute
Tourism Training Institute in Jambiani
This is not really an attraction, but a non-profit institution run by two Canadians that does incredible efforts in developing local life by teaching locals, so they could get a job in tourism industry of the island and improve their livelihood. They also have a few rooms on-site and a restaurant, so you could support them by staying there. Location on Google Maps. Official website.
Mangrove Trees in Jozani Forest
This is an area where you can see jungle, mangrove forest and red colobus monkey. Tour takes about 1 – 1.5 hrs ($10/pp) and you’re accompanied by an official guide. It is worth to make a stop there if you’re driving through. Location on Google Maps.
You’ll be offered different tours (like Prison Island, Safari Blue, Dolphin watching etc.) on every corner. Snorkeling trip is one of the options. Experience would vary from place to place so I wouldn’t make any conclusions here.
There are quite a few of spice gardens on Zanzibar, mostly up north from Stone Town and we decided to visit one on our last date. We aimed for one that was free to visit, but you could buy some spices at the end, at least that was what TripAdvisor reviews stated. Although because we arrived after 5 PM the reality was that there were a few aggressive touts running after our car as we approached and they claimed that visit is $10/pp and they will tell us a little bit about the plants. It felt really dodgy and we didn’t go there.
We drove to another one and there the story was similar. A few guys appeared and started to offer us tours each trying to score a client. They initially asked for $10, but then dropped their price to “free”. They also couldn’t answer which spice garden they work for, just claiming they can take us to any. My friends didn’t feel good taking a tour with them and we decided to just skip it and head further.
Exploring and Interacting with Locals
Exploring a Beach in Matemwe
That’s one of the most rewarding (and free!) experiences you could have on Zanzibar. Feel free to drive around, visit villages, talk to people and find out about their lives. Make friends and enjoy!
Also, check out Places to eat in Zanzibar and please post your suggestions in comments as well!
Check out the Full Guide to Zanzibar