Zanzibar & Indian Ocean islands
Escape to Zanzibar or other Indian Ocean islands. Towns steeped in history, stunning beaches, waters that are a diver’s dream, spice gardens and wildlife.
Our memories of Zanzibar are plentiful, consisting of the turquoise blue sea, colourful marine life and vibrant wildlife.
A beach holiday combines perfectly with a safari and what better place to do this than the islands off the coast of Tanzania. The most famous and largest, Zanzibar, has long held an attraction for visitors to its shores. Steeped in history, it’s a melting pot of cultures with strong Arabic influences in the bustling streets of Stone Town, plus wildlife in Jozani Forest and idyllic beaches.
Zanzibar isn’t the only attractive island though. To the north is smaller and quieter Pemba Island. The main attraction here is the diving and snorkelling. If you have Robinson Crusoe tendencies, then you might want to try Mafia or Fanjove Islands. There are no large hotels, in fact Fanjove doesn’t even have any permanent inhabitants. This is barefoot luxury at its best. All the islands are tidal (some areas more so than others) but there is always somewhere you can find to relax and boat trips to sandspits are another great option.
- Pemba Island: North of Zanzibar, Pemba is a much smaller island than Zanzibar. It is more rural, less developed and, in terms of tourism, a much quieter island. There are a few good beaches, the diving is superb, snorkelling is great and there are a couple of really good lodges such as Fundu Lagoon.
- Mafia Island: Mafia is a small island (just 394 km2) quite far south of Zanzibar. Even if you count all the tiny local guesthouses there are only about 20 places to stay. Whale sharks visit the waters around here from around October to March. Some of the best lodges include: Pole Pole and Kinasi Lodge on the south side of the island, and Butiama Beach Lodge on the north side.
- Chumbe Island: This is a teeny-tiny island 8kms off the coast of Zanzibar. The island is a nature reserve and the ocean contains beautiful coral gardens and a shallow reef. There is one fantastic rustic lodge.
- Fanjove Island: Fanjove is about a 20-minute flight south of Mafia and is even tinier, at just 1km by 300m. It is uninhabited, has no cars, and has just one lodge with 6 beach bandas.
- Hotels: There is a wide range of places to stay, especially on Zanzibar itself. From 5-star properties to small rustic thatched bandas, you have some wonderful places to choose from. Please ask us for help.
- Beach life: There are many different beaches on the islands, each one different from the next and depending on what you like, this might make one more suitable than another. Be it the sand, the tide, whether it’s busy or secluded, suitability for diving and snorkelling, and so on. There are too many different beaches to mention, but if it’s the beach that’s the most important thing to you, let us know what you want and we’ll make sure you go to the right place.
- Swim with whale sharks: These fascinating creatures are found off Mafia Island between October and March. It is possible to swim with them and we are careful to only use reputable companies.
- Diving and snorkelling: Mafia Island boasts some of the best diving in East Africa. This is the place to come if you’re serious about your diving. That said, there’s also good diving and snorkelling off Pemba and Zanzibar too.
- Go off-grid: Fanjove Private Island is where to go to escape from it all. There’s no mains electricity or even wifi, just six simple bandas which house the guests. It’s pretty laid back, remote and oh so peaceful.
- Sleep underwater: Manta Resort on Pemba Island has a unique underwater room anchored off-shore. This is a unique experience!
- Rural island life: On Zanzibar and Pemba it’s possible to experience life for the rural islanders and see what life is like for the locals who live here year-round.
- Zanzibar spice tour: Visitors to Zanzibar can take a spice tour. This is, after all, the Spice Island.
- Stone Town: The main town on Zanzibar is well worth a visit. Explore the alleyways, markets and historical buildings of this town linked so strongly with the slave trade in the past.
- Delicious food: The cuisine on Zanzibar and the islands is a result of the cultural influences over hundreds of years. Arab, Portuguese, Indian and British influences are all part of the melting pot of Swahili fare.
- Sunset dhow cruise: Step aboard your traditional wooden sailing dhow and cruise along the coast, drink in hand as the sun begins to set on the horizon. The dramatic sky presents a colourful backdrop to round off another day of island life.