Completely unlike mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar will dazzle, enchant and delight you.

This semi-autonomous archipelago located only 23 miles off the coast is officially part of Tanzania, but in most aspects including cuisine, culture, religion and politics it couldn’t be more different. It’s culture was influenced by it’s past as a hub for traders from all over the world and it is almost completely Muslim.

To reach Zanzibar you will either take a ride in a shaky Cessna plane, or take the ferry for a cheaper and more enjoyable experience. The high speed boats from Dar Es Salaam run four times per day each way and they take around two hours.

You’ll Realize Everything Runs on Island Time

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Once you reach Zanzibar you will immediately relax into the slow and laid back pace of the island. Here everything moves at an unhurried pace. Things might not make sense or work as you expect them to, but don’t worry too much about it. Just sit back, enjoy the sunshine and trust that everything will happen eventually.

You’ll Fall in Love With the Charm of Stone Town

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The ancient city of Stone Town was declared a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to it’s wealth of gorgeous historic buildings. The old palaces and mosques are artefacts of a more opulent time. Be sure to visit some of the most historically important buildings in the town, such as the Arab Fort and the House of Wonders. Also, the market in Stone Town is huge and vibrant, offering a dazzling array of treasures for sale.

You’ll want to spend hours wandering through the labyrinthine winding alleys. The town is small and safe and if you get lost the friendly locals will always be there to help you get where you are going.

You’ll Be Delighted by the Food

Zanzibar has been ruled by many different cultures over the years, which has led to a complex and varied local cuisine. The food here is a fusion between African, Portuguese, Chinese, Arab and Indian cooking traditions. Everything is seasoned with fragrant, spicy and potent flavours – these are known as the “Spice Islands” after all.

Make sure to try as many of the delicious local dishes as possible, from Swahili curries to fresh seafood to urojo – a coconut and turmeric based soup. It is even possible to visit a spice farm during your trip so that you can see how spices are grown and produced.

You’ll Want to Relax on the Beaches Forever

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The beaches of Zanzibar are simply stunning – brilliant white sand, warm teal water and soothing breezes. You can head to Kendwa Beach on the North Western coast, where you can swim during low and high tide (just watch out for the sea urchins). On Jambiani, a beach on the South East Coast, you can arrange to take a ride in a local dhow – a wooden carved boat. You can also visit Kizimkazi, which is famous for its Dolphin Tour.

These are just a few of the reasons why Zanzibar will be an unexpected but pleasant surprise that you will never forget.