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Doing things the local way in Zanzibar

The tropical paradise of Zanzibar has a lot more to tempt visitors with than just temperate waters and its reputation as a honeymoon haven, since its history and culture are fascinating enough to fire the imagination of all ages. A luxury beach holiday doesn’t only need to consist of sunbathing on sandy beaches as you sip cocktails; why not create memories that will last a lifetime and do things the local way too! Stone Town Learn local history on a scintillating spice tour When in Stone Town it’s almost a crime not to embark on a spice tour which takes you on a journey through the centuries and intoxicates each of your five senses. The ever present scents of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and peppers intermingle with the tales you’ll be told about local trade history. Walks through the various spice plantations outside of town are a great way to meet locals, and will give you greater insight into the day to day lives of spice traders today. You’ll learn as you traverse the densely vegetated plantations to avoid walking under certain fruit-laden trees due to the danger of falling fruit, while at some point, you’re certain to stare in wonder at the oddly shaped fruits and seed pods around you. Years later, when you catch a whiff of aloe vera, cinnamon bark, fresh cloves, and even vanilla pods, you’ll be swiftly transported back to your adventures in Zanzibar. Eat locally and enjoy romance at Rock Restaurant If a secluded meal takes your fancy it doesn’t get more private than by taking a boat out from Michanwi Pingwe beach to the nearby Rock Restaurant (though tide dependant, you can even walk or take a swim across to it). This incredible place looks like it’s come out of a movie set, with an interior that combines plush couches with carved driftwood and only 12 dining tables for guests. A visit here will leave you with lasting memories of sunlight dancing off the water, delicious wine, and a small, but expertly prepared list of dishes will have you longing to return. Booking a table is advised since they are popular with locals and visitors alike. Rock Restaurant Try local favourites such as crab salad, queen prawns, and fish carpaccio to wet your appetite, or dive straight into the mains that include items such as perfectly spiced chicken tandoori and grilled lobster with basmati rice and vegetables. The refreshing pineapple flambé is an ideal way to end off your meal. Rock Restaurant Buy locally at Darajani Market Shaded by colourful umbrellas and set against the backdrop of stone walls and red roofs, with the mingled cry of vendors, chickens and children, is Stone Town’s most central bazaar: Daranjani Market. Surrounding the outer market are stalls selling fresh bread loaves, fish, dates, vegetables and fruits, perfumes, fabric swatches, sneakers, kofia hats, and even toys from China, which can be quite a lot to take in, especially if you’ve arrived early. Once you’ve managed to weave your way through the vendors to the inner market you’ll find a more spacious and a well-organised area which is by and large a reprieve from the noise and energy beyond it. The feeling of biting into a freshly plucked fruit, still slightly warm from the morning sunlight, is a holiday luxury not to be taken for granted. Daranjani Market is ideal for honeymoon couples who may have forgotten something in their rush to pack, while family holidaymakers will find the energy of auctions with passionate locals haggling prices a refreshing change. Relax like the locals at Forodhani Gardens Though the name has changed several times, from Jubilee Gardens to Forodhani Gardens and finally Forodhani Park, this lush garden area with a pavilion is an idyllic sanctuary where you can recharge and soak in the sunlight as you watch dhows sailing past the seafront of Zanzibar. The gardens are found opposite the House of Wonders, the tallest and largest building in Stone Town, which is also the museum of culture and history, and is well worth a tour.  Stick around until sunset where you can watch local chefs at a pop-up night market prepare local delicacies – it’s a culinary treat you don’t want to miss! Meet the locals at Nungwi Village  A great way to end off your Zanzibar holiday is to relax with locals at Nungwi Village; found an hour away from Stone Town on the islands northern tip. On a village tour you’ll discover how dhows are made and can watch women weaving baskets as they chat and sing softly. Nungwi Scuba diving, beach walks, visiting the lighthouse, and dhow cruises are all highly recommended, as is a visit to the Mnarani Natural Aquarium that is home to several turtle species. The aquarium is little more than a natural tidal pool, but the passionate volunteers who staff it will fill you in on the history of turtle uses and the need for their protection. It is best visited two hours before high tide, as the water is clearest and you can best view the turtles up close. Nungwi Nungwi Ash Sofat is Chief Executive at Somak Holidays. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. Made me miss Zanzibar! The Spice Tour in the Stone Town was incredible! Well not too mention the perfect beach. :)

  2. I disagree with the Spice Tour element – it’s a tourist trap business. The rock Restaurant is rubbish, with overpriced South African wine and terrible food.

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