My name is Camilla Malm. I’m a 27 year old traveler and entrepreneur from Denmark. In this destination guide I will outline the best experiences on the island of Zanzibar. Before I do so, allow me to introduce myself.
I grew up in Denmark but have lived in five other countries and studied in six. In total, I have visited 59 countries now! Growing up, my family was traveling an average of two months each year and more if we could get away with it! We had this kind of “deal” where we would not visit the same destination twice – so we could experience as many new places as possible.
Taking these adventures is something that I am grateful for. We moved briefly to Italy when I was 10 years old for Dad’s company. Then, when I was 15, I went to an international school in Malta to study Dance and English.
Naturally, I went on my first round-the-world trip after high school. I studied along the way in Vietnam, New Zealand and Costa Rica, and moved to Namibia to work on a farm. I came back to Denmark to start my bachelors but I quickly realized that I didn’t want to stay in Denmark.
So when I got offered a marketing position in Barcelona, I had to take it! It was only supposed to be for six months but I ended up staying for one and a half years before coming back to Denmark to finish my bachelors.
Six months after being back at university, I got the opportunity to finish the rest of my bachelors in the USA. I jumped at the opportunity and moved to America. I met my now fiance in college there and while he was finishing school in the US, I decided to move to Bali until we could move in together.
But then COVID-19 hit and I had to go back to Denmark. Thankfully, he was able to move in with me a few months later. I consider myself lucky to have traveled around the world and seen these places. Of course, my trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar was another epic journey that I am so grateful for.
Traveling to Kenya and Tanzania with Mom
I have always wanted to visit Tanzania – primarily because I wanted to climb the impressive Mount Kilimanjaro. After living in Namibia for a while, I developed this special relationship with the African continent. It just gets under your skin in a different way than other continents around the world.
My mom turned 50 in 2019 and her biggest wish was to take another safari in Africa. We decided to go to Kenya. However, we really wanted to spend some time on a sandy beach too. Visiting Zanzibar was the perfect choice.
We went to Kenya and Tanzania in January, 2020 and spent one and a half weeks there. We flew from Nairobi to Stone Town in Zanzibar. Then we drove to Nungwi where we stayed in beach bungalows for eight days. After Nungwi, we drove to Stone Town for two days before flying back to Nairobi.
Falling in Love with Zanzibar’s Atmosphere
The most accurate description of Zanzibar in Tanzania is: “the most insane and beautiful blue water you have ever seen”. And that means a lot coming from someone who has traveled around the world multiple times!
It’s impossible to describe the beauty of the island for someone who hasn’t been. Pictures don’t do it justice. I loved the history of the island too. We spent our time snorkeling, kayaking, swimming with turtles in the natural pools, relaxing and watching the sunset from a beach bar every day.
On our last few days, we stayed in a beautiful old hotel in Stone Town. We walked around the many narrow streets, looked (and shopped) at the many spice shops and ate amazing food at the many cool restaurants of Stone Town – such as the rooftop restaurants and places with little gardens.
It was such a fantastic place to visit! Both Nungwi and Stone Town were very different experiences but they were both so amazing. Nungwi for the most beautiful beaches, and Stone Town for the history and atmosphere. I loved the mix of experiences that we got from these two places.
Top 6 Things To Do in Zanzibar
In my opinion, the Top 6 Things To Do in Zanzibar are firstly to go snorkeling or diving. The water on this island is just so blue and crystal-clear that you can’t visit without experiencing it. Even if you are not an experienced snorkeler or diver, just being in the water is a reward in itself.
The next thing would be to rent a boat in Zanzibar and see the island from the ocean. There is some amazing nature to see on the coastline and you cruise past some insane looking luxury hotels and houses along the way.
Another thing that Zanzibar is famous for with adventurous types is windsurfing and kitesurfing. We really wanted to try it but it was located far from the north end of the island where we were staying. I guess that makes for just another of the many reasons to come back to this paradise.
Experiencing Stone Town in some way is a must-do in Zanzibar. It’s such a cool city and you have to try a couple of their awesome restaurants. The best thing to do there is to walk around the narrow streets and get lost!
Around Zanzibar you can find beautiful sandbars in the ocean such as at Nakupenda Beach close to Stone Town. They just look so surreal and there is nothing else there except for sand. A fantastic place to go swimming for an afternoon and take many awesome photos of the sandbar.
Finally, go swimming with turtles in the natural pools. I know there’s two places like this at the north end of the island. It was a cool experience to swim with turtles and feed them. If you do this, make sure it’s a good place that takes care of the turtles. We don’t condone animal cruelty in any way.
Hanging with Locals at the Beach
We met quite a few locals as there weren’t too many tourists in Nungwi when we were there (thankfully). There was a beach bar we would go to every day and a group of local boys would be playing football on the beach.
It was such a joy to be able to sit down, enjoy a couple of cold Kilimanjaro beers and watch the sunset with the background of locals playing football on the beach. The people in Zanzibar were always very kind. The culture is open, curious and rich in history. It was a pleasure to experience!
A Highlight of Zanzibar – The Food!
The food scene of Zanzibar was another highlight of this magical island. In Nungwi we mainly ate at our hotel as they advised us not to go along the beach at night. The hotel food was nice as they cooked some local food but it would have been better to go out and try some other places.
They have some cool tables and couches made from old canoes and other wooden things. You can sit in the shade with a fresh coconut and just look out at the beautiful water. Such a fantastic place to relax for the afternoon!
In Stone Town, we had dinner at Emerson on Hurumzi which was the coolest and best rooftop restaurant I have ever been to. You sit on cushions along the edge of the roof while watching the sunset. The waiters dance around you and bring over the most delicious tasting menu imaginable.
At Emerson on Hurumzi, we ordered flat bread with different dippings, a pumpkin tagine, massaman curry and about ten other delicious dishes for only $40 per person! It was the best food experience to end our vacation.
We also ate a place called Emerson Secret Garden (yes, Emerson owns a lot of places). It was an extremely delicious mix of all the best local foods from Zanzibar such as cardamom rice, dahl, okra, spinach and vegetables.
Two Amazing Hotels in Zanzibar
In Nungwi we stayed at Mnarani Beach Cottages. It was great! They were secluded and you had to walk a short distance to get anywhere but that was part of what made it so special. There was almost no one around.
In Stone Town we stayed at Dhow Palace Hotel which was the coolest old Omani-style hotel. It was perfectly located within walking distance of practically everything in Stone Town. I highly recommend these two hotels.
Incredible Memories of Zanzibar
The whole trip to Zanzibar was just amazing from beginning to end. I loved snorkeling off the coast on the north end and the unique eating experiences at the rooftop restaurant in Stone Town, as well as getting lost down the small alleyways on the hunt for spices and hidden shops.
These moments were incredible in their own way as they were so different to life in Denmark. I can’t wait to come back to create even more memories.
Need to Know Before you Go
I would say it’s best to visit Zanzibar for at least two weeks. That way you can stay up north, down south and spend a few days in Stone Town – seeing everything this amazing island has to offer. Be open minded for cultural experiences and enjoy your vacation to the fullest every day!