Zanzibar…just saying it seems like it would be a fun place.
In my mind, I was thinking monkeys, spices, dark aromatic coffee and colorful scarves and dresses. You know…the typical vacation place that Jack Sparrow would visit when taking a break from pirating on the seven seas.
I was not to be disappointed. The island is rich in culture and people are warm and friendly. And while the history of the slave trade is still there as a dark reminder of what was, the island has evolved and moved forward with eco-tourism.
The island is stunning. Since the 1960s, great efforts have been made to preserve the jungle and the creatures living there – so yes, you can find monkeys in the forests and at sunset, you can see the leader high in the trees watching over his tribe. The beaches are flawless and the seafood incredible. People do really say “Hakuna matata” and you can’t help but smile when greeting people with “Jambo Jambo!”
I stayed at the Melia Resort about an hour away from anything. It took was gorgeous, and if you are looking for quiet evening and not a party scene, the resort is perfect. The national language is Swahili, but I found that most people could speak some English and Arabic words were also added to the mix. This might not be helpful for you, but because I’ve been living in Saudi Arabia for a while, being able to say thank-you and having an idea of what the drivers where saying to each other is always comforting when I’m traveling by myself in a place where my blonde hair is very distinctive.
One thing I didn’t realize when visiting was how intertwined their history was with the Ottoman Empire. When you think of an island of beaches, you forget that it’s still a Muslim culture — so pack long flowing skirts and leave your tank tops at home. You also aren’t going to find alcohol outside of the hotels or restaurants. But you will find beauty, relaxation and a great place to unwind while gazing at the Indian Ocean.