Outdoor pool at the Residence in Zanzibar

The Zanzibar Archipelago: A Guide to Tanzania's Island Paradise

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Niarra Travel

Known as the Spice Islands, due to their centuries old trade of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, the Zanzibar Archipelago beckons with its warm turquoise waters and powdery beaches. This quintessential beach oasis seamlessly combines adventure and relaxation, where you can do as much or as little as you please.

The African, Arab, European and Indian influences present on these islands create a wealth of culture to appreciate. Marvel at the Islamic architecture while indulging in a traditional Zanzibari seafood meal. Or simply relish in wandering barefoot on the pristine white sands as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean.

Here is our guide to Tanzania's island paradise.

Sunset at the beach in the Zanzibar Archipelago

Where is the Zanzibar Archipelago?

Located off the southeast coast of Tanzania in East Africa, the Zanzibar Archipelago floats adrift in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago consists of two main islands, Unjuga, colloquially referred to as Zanzibar, and Pemba, as well as smaller neighbouring islands.

Each island has its own unique charm and allure. Zanzibar is the most developed island, where you can immerse yourself into the local culture that has formed over centuries. Pemba, located across the Pemba channel from Zanzibar, is a charming barefoot escape with kaleidoscopic reefs, providing some of the best diving and snorkelling in Africa. Mafia is lined by thick mangrove habitat, teeming with varied wildlife while the surrounding barrier reef has been gazetted as a marine park.

Aerial view of the Mnemba Island in the Zanzibar Archipelago

How to get to the Zanzibar Archipelago

There are direct flights to Zanzibar from the Seronera Valley in the Serengeti or from Nairobi in Kenya, where you’re able to experience some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth, followed by relaxing next to the Indian ocean.

If you are flying from further afield, there are also regular flights into Zanzibar Island and Pemba Island from Dar es Salaam, a major city and capital port in Tanzania, which will take you around 20 minutes to get to this tropical haven.

There is plenty of wildlife to see in Zanzibar, including red colobus monkeys, chameleons, and magical marine life. However, combining bush with beach, such as a luxury trip that encompasses Serengeti safari and beach experiences, makes for an exciting and memorable holiday.

Chumbe Island Zanzibar 2

What to do in Zanzibar Archipelago

The Zanzibar Archipelago is home to an array of breathtaking beaches, with long stretches of white sand fringed with coconut trees. Stretch out on a sun lounger with a cocktail or book in hand and take a dip in the invitingly clear and warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Explore Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most charming cities in Africa, where you can explore the labyrinth of winding streets with a private guide. Wander through the bustling town, with fragrant smells of perfumes and spices wafting through the air, appreciating the architecture and sampling the local delicacies.

Zanzibar has a wealth of watersports on offer. Go snorkelling or scuba diving where you can explore the colourful coral reefs and swim amongst exotic marine life, including green turtles, seahorses, and blue spotted rays. Kayak or stand-up paddle board along the coastline where you may even spot dolphins playing nearby.

If you are looking for something more adventurous, set sail on a traditional dhow and cruise between the islets. Watch the sun transform the sky as it gently dips below the horizon, and enjoy drinks and culinary delights prepared by the local chef.

Learn more about the history and culture of the islands by going on a sensory journey through Zanzibar’s spice plantations. Here you’ll sample the local delicacies or attend the traditional coffee ceremony with coffee roasted the Zanzibari way.

Spices at a market in the Zanzibar Archipelago

Where to stay in the Zanzibar Archipelago

The accommodation in Zanzibar combines luxury with tradition, embracing the interwoven nature of cultures present in the archipelago. Our favourite options have a palpable impact on the community and environment, sourcing food and products locally and reducing their carbon footprint.

Xanadu Villas

These eight boutique villas are located in the quiet southeast of Zanzibar. They draw inspiration from the island’s Arab heritage, with white domes piercing the emerald canopy of the palms. The breezy rooms have a Swahili character, with heavy timberwork, African art, and ornate metal work.

The rooms come with your own plunge pool, living spaces, and a private butler. The bar and restaurant are at the heart of the resort, where you can dine on Zanzibar-inspired gourmet cuisine made with vegetables and herbs grown locally in their garden.

&Beyond Mnemba Island

12 castaway palm-frond bandas can be found on the private island of Mnemba, perfect for simple, barefoot relaxation. Walk out of your banda into the surrounding tropical forest where the soft, white beach sands are just a few steps away.

The hand carved beds and verandas look out onto the coral reef, where you can dive and snorkel amongst the colourful marine life. The conservation efforts are integral to the island, where you can get involved in green turtle tagging and monitoring or visiting local communities on Zanzibar.

White Sands Villa

The villas here, situated on Unguja, are designed with luxury, comfort, and private space in mind where the architecture blends in seamlessly with the surrounding natural environment. The units are spacious, with two interconnected villas sharing a garden with a terrace and private pool.

Unwind in the tub outside, looking up at overhanging palm fronds or visit the tropical tranquil spa, where you can receive treatments using local products.

Creators of unforgettable experiences, the team at Niarra Travel can help you build your island paradise holiday that encompasses both luxury and conservation. Get in touch with our team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US), or at explore@niarratravel.com and start planning your dream beach holiday to the Zanzibar Archipelago.

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