Zanzibar | A Tropical Paradise

The palm trees swayed in the warm breeze, as the waves gently crashed on the shore, the air humid as ever. The sea was a stunning blue reflecting the clear skies above us. No, I’m not daydreaming! This little piece of heaven is Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous island, located off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa, is a traveller’s haven with its beyond beautiful beaches and its rich history and culture. Previously ruled by the Moorish, the Portuguese, the Omanis and the British that led to a trove of rich cultural and historical backgrounds, it is now governed in conjunction with the Government of Tanzania. This stunning island can easily be accessed by air.

Though the journey to Zanzibar started off dreadfully with a slight issue with the local airline about my electric wheelchair, once we got there, it was officially Vacay Mode. Whoop whoop! I stayed at the Hideaway of Nungwi Resort and Spa. It’s a huge resort sprawled on the Nungwi Beach, located on the North side of Zanzibar. Secluded from the typically crowded beaches, we had a glorious time as we enjoyed this seaside getaway. The rooms were massive and allowed easy wheelchair movement. Though the bathroom cannot be classified as wheelchair accessible but a few makeshift adjustments renders it usable. What’s more is that all the rooms had stunning beach views, and almost the entire resort was wheelchair accessible.

From breakfast to dinner, we enjoyed the gorgeous deep blue sea views. The pool was also an infinity pool that meant endless hours lying on the sunbeds followed by cooling down in the pool, all whilst enjoying the pristine beach right in front of us. The bar right next to the pool was perfect for sundowners while watching the sunset. It was also the primary hangout spot after dinner for a few family games.

 

A poolside
The pool view from Hideaway of Nungwi Resort & Spa

 

IMG_0817
Sunset at Nungwi Beach

Right next to Nungwi Beach, is Kendwa Rocks – a popular beach with several restaurants and nightclubs. We initially decided to visit it, but then the comfort of the resort was so alluring that we didn’t want to leave after our short stay there.

On the South side of the island is Kizimkazi, a small town famous for its dolphin tours. Though we wanted to go for a dolphin tour, we were advised not to go due to the low possibility of seeing them during the month of December. It was not dolphin viewing season!

Despite the alluring comfort and relaxation at the resort, we opted to go to Stone Town, the main city of Zanzibar. It’s a city of prominent historical and artistic significance in East Africa. Its architecture, mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, with a unique mixture of Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements; and for this reason, the town has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

We drove by David Livingstone’s house. It is small palace that was originally built for the Omani Sultan Majid bin Said but later used by European missionaries. David Livingstone lived in the house while preparing his last expedition to the interior of Tanzania (previously known as Tanganyika).

Then we stopped and walked around the inner alleyways of Stone Town. It was soothing to walk through some of the most intricate architectural work I’ve seen. However, many of the buildings were ruins, as the harsh seaside weather had taken its toll on them. The buildings were built from coral retrieved from Zanzibar itself. The alleyways are too narrow for cars, but that does not stop the locals from using bicycles and motorbikes. Because the island is mostly a Muslim population, it is very important to cover up to be respectful to their culture.

An alleyway in Stone Town
An alleyway in Stone Town
An intricately-designed door - a common sight in Stone Town
An intricately-designed door – a common sight in Stone Town

We even got to try their famous Zanzibari mix. It is a steaming, hot bowl of smooth and tangy flour-based sauce cooked with lemon and mango, with tiny cubes of potatoes in it, followed by crispy bhajias and fried mashed potatoes, a spoon of coconut chutney, a dash of red-hot chutney and a scoop of deep-fried cassava or potato shavings sprinkled on top (Pika Chakula: www.pikachakula.com). It was so delicious! And the best part was topping off the snack with a fresh ‘kulfi’* from a nearby vendor.

Zanzibari Mix - a local delicacy
Zanzibari Mix – a local delicacy

We then ended our day trip at the local market, where they were selling fresh seafood, sugarcane juice and coconut water – just the perfect way to end the day. Another popular ‘to-do’ item in Zanzibar is the spice tours that take you to the spice plantations and let you buy the fresh spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, from where they are originally grown from. We, however, skipped this one. And the rest of the vacation was spent lazing by the hotel pool and munching away all day while sipping on cocktails in the sun. Going home was probably the hardest thing to do after such a wonderful week of pure relaxation.

A cocktail on a ledge with the sea as the background.
Sun, Sea & Cocktails ~ The Perfect Trio!

 *Kulfi is a rich, creamy Indian ice-cream.

All pictures are provided by Diva Shah Photography, unless otherwise stated.

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