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Southern Sky Adventures: Zanzibar

Considered one of the best-kept secrets in the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar stands as a remote, unspoiled island paradise consisting of numerous small island and two large ones: Unquia (the main island, informally referred to as Zanzibar), and Pemba.

The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unquia, is Zanzibar City, best known for its fascinating historic center, called Stone Town. While it may not have a particularly romantic name, Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, and a place where little has changed in the last two centuries. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings, particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors. There are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork, and visitors can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.

Zanzibar’s brilliant white beaches are a paradise, lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean provide the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from some busy sightseeing. And of course, the Indian Ocean offers world-class watersports including scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing on traditional local dhows. The beaches are interspersed with picturesque fishing villages, where the people live a simple way of life, unchanged over the years. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is likely to be the ocean. Some of the better known beach locations include Matemwe Beach, Jambiani Beach and Nungwi Beach.

While most visitors to the Zanzibar archipelago visit Unguja, commonly known as Zanzibar Island, fewer take advantage of the fact that this is an archipelago, with several other island and numerous islets. Pemba is Zanzibar’s sister island, and is now receiving a small but growing number of foreign visitors. The infrastructure is much less than on Unguja, and there are far fewer tourists, a fact seen as a plus by many. Misali island, off Pemba’s east coast, is idyllic and excellent for diving.


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