The pearl of Indian Ocean islands

If you are imagining a tropical island paradise with white sands, warm turquoise waters and palm fringed beaches, you are probably imagining Zanzibar. You could mistake photographs of Zanzibar’s beaches for those of Mauritius or the Seychelles. But what sets Zanzibar apart from the competition is its authentically African feel. And, its more relaxed and less expensive hotels. 

I last visited the island in 2005 and visited again last month with my family and some friends. The beaches were just as idyllic as I remember, but the island is much more developed. 

In Zanzibar you can go north or east. The north coast is not impacted by high and low tides, allowing you to swim throughout the day. Nungwi can get crowded during peak season so head to Kendwa which has some of the most stunning beaches on earth. The east coast is more relaxed and secluded, with gorgeous “boho-chic” hotels popping up everywhere. The hotels around Paje have a youthful, party vibe and those closer to Jambiani are better suited to families and people who want to relax. On the east coast, you cannot swim in the sea at low tide because it is too far out.

East coast, Zanzibar

While in Zanzibar, we sailed a traditional dhow to a nearby reef. We walked to the boat at low tide, passing sea creatures hiding in the sand, and seaweed gardens being tended by local women. I loved the snorkelling, although it must be said the fish were not present in great numbers. I was most happy to see NO PLASTIC in the ocean. My last snorkelling experience was in Thailand where I saw a lot of plastic in the ocean. We had two excellent local restaurant experiences. One in the Jambiani Village at Pishi’s. Another was at Usumba Rock, a locally owned and more authentic version of the famous The Rock restaurant. 

While in Zanzibar, I twice took a taxi around the island, visiting hotels. I have now updated Leopard’s little black book with lots of lovely hidden gems. Those who know me, know I love a good garden, and so special mention must be made of Zuri. On the day I visited Zuri, I had left my hotel before sunrise, at 6am and had seen two hotels before arriving at Zuri at 10am. After a wonderful site visit conducted by William, I left Zuri feeling restored and ready to tackle the afternoon’s hotels. I loved the hotel design, the incredible gardens, the gorgeous rooms and Zuri’s spice garden where they conduct complimentary tours every day. The beach is pretty unbelievable too, just take a look at these photos below. 

Zuri, Zanzibar

Contact us for our list of hidden gems in Zanzibar. 

Happy travelling!


P.S. We are so grateful for the very busy month we had in April, with over 32 people travelling with us! Most of our clients come to us through word of mouth, so please don’t keep us a secret! If you know someone who is traveling to South or East Africa, please feel free to pass on our information.

This month, we started the Leopard Referral Programme where you can get a ZAR 3,000* voucher for referring a friend. *Contact us for more information and the terms and conditions. 

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