When people think of Zanzibar in East Africa, exotic images often come to mind of romance and intrigue. Unspoiled by mass tourism, Zanzibar is still one of those off-the-beaten-path treasures that travelers love to encounter, though since the 1990s tourism has steadily been increasing.
Zanzibar Island is an archipelago that is made up of Pemba Island, a number of islets and Zanzibar. Located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is one of East Africa’s most beautiful areas, with white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs and one of the only ancient towns still alive in East Africa.
Old Stone Town, also called Mji Mkongwe, is the cultural pulse of Zanzibar and not much has changed there since the spice and slave trade days of some 200 years past. With meandering alleys and lively bazaars, the mosques and Arabic houses boast carved wooden doors with brass-studded, fanciful artwork from days long gone by. Visitors to Stone Town can spend hours exploring the old city with its extravagant 200-year-old buildings made of coralline rock and, most often, enjoy their stay in beautiful hotels that are housed in renovated buildings.
Excellent restaurants and coffee houses abound in Zanzibar and, as would be expected, seafood is in abundance where lobster, kingfish, prawns and octopus are just some of the delicacies that can be found in wonderful, spicy dishes that are often complimented by the delicate flavor of coconut.
For an eco- friendly experience, the adventure traveler who lands in Old Stone Town usually takes a boat straight down to Chumbe Island, an award winning private nature reserve, which is situated just 8 kilometers Southwest and is covered by pristine forest and virgin coral reef. In the interest of the preservation of this untouched nature reserve, the number of guests that are allowed to visit Chumbe Island at any given time, is limited, but those who do visit stay in bungalows that are built with state of the art eco-technology and architecture.
When it comes to hospitality that is based in pure indulgence, the discerning traveler often looks directly across the island from Old Stone Town, to the Zanzibar Collection of world-class hotels and resorts; about 45 minutes away, the East side of the island is where it’s at when it comes to absolute luxury.
Breezes Beach Club and Spa, located on Bwejuu Beach, is far from other hotels so as to ensure privacy and relaxation, and reflects the mysticism and culture of lovely Zanzibar. Voted by Conde Nast as one of the top 30 island beaches in the world, Bwejuu Beach is truly breathtaking with it pristine white sand and crystal clear blue waters.
With each item of furniture meticulously hand carved by local carpenters and exotic, hand sewn silks and fabrics displaying a magnificent backdrop for antiques, the hotel is richly reminiscent of old Zanzibar and was nominated among the top five resorts in all of Africa, winning the prize of “Best Resort in Tanzania” by World Travel Awards.
For a more intimate experience, some visitors to Zanzibar prefer The Palms, a boutique hotel that offers spacious luxury in secluded villas that feature personal plunge pools and private thatched “bandas” to shade comfortable day beds, and lounges, that overlook the award winning Bwejuu- Peje Beach. Romantic and exclusive, The Palms offers an oasis from the bustling world, where guests can envelop their senses in the sweet tranquility of white powdered sand beaches, rustling palms and the gentle waves of the warm Indian Ocean.
For even deeper relaxation, the world class Sanctuary Spa is situated right on the beach and offers an array of treatment services designed to help the guest unwind under the expert hands of professional spa therapists.
Zanzibar is a mystical retreat from the world, where guests can leave their concerns on the mainland, and enjoy everything from the adventures of drift diving and kite surfing, to the fascination that nature has to offer, and the serenity of soul pampering spa treatments or long afternoons of doing nothing but watching the waves crash in.
Eran Feinstein is the founder of Direct Pay Online. Direct Pay Online provides global e-commerce and online payments solutions for the travel and related industries He is a leading authority in the fields of e-commerce, travel and payments, having acquired extensive experience from various parts of the world.