To get to Zanzibar, we flew into Zanzibar Town Airport and we were met by our driver Ali. We had contacted Ali in advance and he agreed to organise a tour of Stone Town and then drive us to our hotel on the other side of the island. He was so helpful and we were able to leave our cases in the car with him while we went on the walking tour. You can contact him through firstname.lastname@example.org or via text message or what’s app on +255 776 130 733.
We explored the narrow streets of Stone Town, which is around 6km from the airport, with our private tour guide Yousef, which had been arranged by Ali. This cost $15 per person, including entrance to the Slave Trade Museum. Yousef was so friendly and informative and brought us to the Spice Market and Fish Markets, House of Wonders, Old Forts and we even saw Freddy Mercury’s home. Everyone on the streets of Stone Town was so friendly and it was a cool experience to see the city.
We went for food in a local restaurant called Lukmann. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, this is one of the best local restaurants in town, so we’re told, and is close to the markets. It’s not for everyone but it is a local favourite. My boyfriend loved it but I’m still on the fence. I can be a bit weird about where I eat in different countries. I had the rice!! Stone Town Cafe is another good food spot and a highly rated B and B too if you’re looking to stay in Stone Town. Lazuli’s is another restaurant that serves Swahili food and is highly recommended in the Shangani area. Especially in Stone Town, it is best to stay away from the seafront restaurants because they are over-priced.
Once we finished the tour, we were collected by the driver and brought to our hotel in Machemvi. This cost us $20 each for a 1 hour 30 minute journey in a private car. We stayed in Ras Machemvi Beach Resort and it was just what we were looking for. A quiet hotel on the beach, perfect for relaxing. It boasts two infinity pools and lovely gardens and private access to the beach. Once here, you don’t need to leave the resort, you can eat and drink here. We spent most of the long weekend just chilling out. Holiday Factory have great deals if you book off peak for this resort and other resorts in Zanzibar when coming from the UAE. We were travelling during a National holiday so we couldn’t avail of the deal.
While in Machemvi, we ate at the famous Rock Restaurant. It was very close to our hotel but people travel from all over Zanzibar to eat here. It is a restaurant out in the sea, and when the tide is in you have to get a boat to it. They do a number of sittings a day, so I would recommend booking in advance. I would advise going here around 2pm or 4pm for lunch as the portions of food are very small and it’s not a filling dinner. It is around $20 dollars for a basic main course. If you’re lucky to get a seat, you can sit outside with a drink and enjoy the views while you’re waiting for your food to be prepared. To eat outside, you need to be in a group of 4 or more. I would definitely try to get here if you can. You can snorkel at the Blue Lagoon near here, so if you’re staying a bit away from here, you could do both of these activities in one day. The snorkelling here is as good as in Mnemba Atoll.
Mnemba Atoll is a day trip you can do next to private islands. It was a long journey from Machemvi where we were staying and would cost $75 each with the driver we had. If we had been staying closer or for a longer period of time, I would have done this. You can snorkel in the coral and sometimes there are wild dolphins. You are brought out by private island but make sure not to go onto these islands! Check out these tripadvisor options too.
The trip to the Sand Spit is one of the best day trips. You are brought to the sandspit in the middle of the sea, where you can enjoy sunbathing and snorkelling all day. Lunch is a BBQ served on the sand spit by local tour guides. Because this is a long trip, you get to see the sandspit at high and low tide.
Prison Island is located off the coast of Stone Town. Here you can see turtles, even ones that are 100 years old and visit another slave trade museum. From Michamvi, this was priced at $80 per person. It would be best to combine this trip with your visit to Stone Town as they are quite close, especially if you are staying in another part of the island.
Cheetah’s Rock is the number one tripadvisor activity for Zanzibar. However, the tours are only available certain days of the week so we couldn’t go. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, from 2pm – 6:45pm you can go here and see rescued wild animals. I have already been on a Safari so I wasn’t too disappointed, but if you would like to interact with the animals, this is a great trip for you. It is expensive at $140 per person and needs to be booked in advance.
If you’re looking to visit different beaches, Paje and Jambiani are the best beaches, however, the views we had a Machemvi were amazing, but you could always arrange a day trip to one of these with Ali or another tour organiser. Just make sure to stay away from the Beach Boys!
- Carry a lot of US Dollars with you, and small notes if possible. They don’t always have change. Everything is priced in Dollars rather than the Shilling so it’s not worthwhile having local currency.
- The visa is available on arrival and you need to pay for it by card! They would not accept cash. First you need to queue to pay and then queue again for a stamp. Get in the queue for the payment and fill in your 2 forms while you’re in the queue, otherwise you could be waiting a lot longer.
- Check out my YouTube Channel with a video from the trip!
Top Tip Traveller 🙂