Quick Guide to Zanzibar
Stone Town and Paje
First Impression: Feels like walking back in time,
Where I stayed: Coco De Mer; apart from it’s excellent location and kind staff, it did not have any other redeeming qualities. The bathroom was full of mold to which I am very allergic (but once I entered the damage was done), there was a very dirty/dusty house fan and the room was sweltering in April.
What to wear: Cool light fabrics but nothing revealing as it is a predominately Muslim place, beach wear on the beach is fine though.
What I did: I went to the beach in the late afternoon which was fun to watch the football games erupt up and down the beach. There is a beach cafe near the beach which I enjoyed for lunch, the food was fresh, simple, and perfect for the heat. There is a book café across from the post office with a good selection of Africa themed books and other knickknacks. Taperia, a wine bar was a great option for the evening post dinner drink, I recall good music, and a nice breeze coming through large windows. I went to the Double Tree Hilton for an overpriced dinner mostly because I needed air-conditioning and I was a little lost in the Stone Town maze. I went to Freddie Mercury Bar for 2 reasons; 1 because of the name and 2 because it is conveniently located near the ferry docks and I needed a place to chill before my ferry left.
- Stone Town is generally safe but the streets are hard to navigate, so after dark you might want to make sure you know exactly how to get from point A to point B. The Hilton doorman actually guided through the streets to the wine bar. If you ask a local for help, do tip them for the help.
- Be sure to research your hotel because I wildly overpaid for my moldy room with only a dusty old fan to cool-it was like a furnace in there. Reading the reviews post-stay I definitely would not have stayed there and would have spent more money on a better hotel.
Off the beaten path:
Last Impression/Wishes for “next time”: I just want to go exploring again and look for antiques.
First Impression: Now this is paradise, the drive from Stone Town takes about 45 minutes and after you clear the city, there is nothing but greenery all the way to Paje. Paje is a small town with one main roundabout and few shops selling food and tourist items along the main roads. Off the roads are hotels and backpackers that are attached to the beach and all along the beach are bars and restaurants.
Where I stayed: New Teddy’s Place, the first time, I stayed in the dorm as it was the only space left. The dorms have about 8 beds, each separated with a shelf and each with an electrical outlet. I wouldn’t mind staying in the dorm again if I had to as I didn’t feel crowded as I do in most dorms. The second time I stayed in a hut for 3 people with 2 of my friends. It was the perfect size for 3 of us (2 sharing a king size bed), with 2 fans and enough shelf space for all our stuff, and a veranda with a couch and clothes line. It takes about 1 minute to walk to the beach. The bar and restaurant area is a great place to relax and there are plenty of hammocks. We also stayed 1 night at Summer Dream Lodge in their massive dorm, it was clean enough but a bit of a walk to the beach and the common area was much smaller.
What to wear: It is hot and the sun is fierce, you will need a lot of sunscreen. I generally go barefoot for days in Paje and wear my bathing suit and a sundress during the day and beach party clothes at night (shorts/skirt and a tank top).
What I did: Beach, hammock, party, repeat. We went on the Blue Safari, you can also go on a Spice Tour and Jozani Forest Tour if you wish.
- Budget about 2 hours for meal times, everything is freshly prepared-fast food does not exist in Zanzibar.
- Drink Passion fruit everything!
Off the beaten path: Paje has been gaining in popularity in recent years therefore I don’t think I can call it off the beaten path anymore as it’s a Mecca for kite surfers and partiers looking for a less expensive and crowded time than what is on offer on the North end of the island.
Last Impression/Wishes for “next time”: Next time I will go to Pemba and I’ve heard you can get to Comoros from Pemba.
Zanzibar is my favourite place in the world and I hope to one day retire on the island. (Hopefully early retirement!!!)