Ohhh Zanzibar where do I start…Ok so we flew with Etihad direct from Abu Dhabi to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and because I’m a pathetic flyer and hate small propeller planes we travelled from Dar to Zanzibar by ferry.
On arrival into Dar you have to pay $50USD for your entry visa. This is a simple, if a little slow, process.
Dar is a bustling and busy African city with crazy traffic and lots of people so we were excited to get to the serenity of Zanzibar! The ferry crossing was 2 hours ($35USD) and we arrived into Stone Town at about 3pm. When you exit the ferry and go through immigration you are greeted by hundreds (I’m not exaggerating) of taxi men all trying to pick up fares. I asked one of them how much it would be to our hotel and he said $20, I said no and walked to another man who said he would do it for $10 so off we went.
We made the 10km trip north to our first hotel, The Golden Tulip. As we were only staying here for one night we didn’t mind what it was like but the staff were friendly and the room was huge. After check in we went down to the pool for a swim and then watched the sunset before going for dinner. We had an early night on our first night as we were tired from travelling and the hotel was pretty quiet so it was a good opportunity to catch up on some sleep.
*Just to note that Muslim owned hotels in Tanzania do not serve alcohol. The Golden Tulip is a dry hotel.
The next morning, once again, we bargained with a taxi driver who was taking us north to Nungwi until we reached an agreement, he started at $70USD I started at $20USD, we ended up at $30 for the journey with a $5 tip. The journey from Stone Town to Nungwi took about an hour with a pit stop half way for some fresh watermelon!
We made our way through Nungwi in the taxi and arrived at Smiles Beach Hotel. This was our home for the next two nights and we were so excited to get exploring.
The resort is small but absolutely beautiful. It boasts 6 ‘houses’ and each house has 4 individual rooms.
The location is ideal, all rooms face north and have a view of the pool and the sea.
The resort is ‘protected’ by this gorgeous Maasai man, although from what I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure the only thing you need protection from in Zanzibar is the strength of the sun but we loved having him at our resort anyway! He also guided us home one night along the beach in the dark to make sure we got back safely.
Once we checked in we headed straight out to discover what Nungwi had to offer. We quickly discovered a really nice beach bar and restaurant called Waves and stopped for some lunch. I had the lobster avocado salad and it was delicious ($15 with a glass of while wine).
We liked Waves so much that we ate there for dinner also and although the food takes an eternity to come out (go at least an hour before you’re hungry) it’s delicious when it does arrive.
I had fishcakes to start, fresh grilled Barracuda for my main along with a glass of white wine and finished with a Pina Colada and it came to less than $20USD!
The next two days in Nungwi were pure heaven and we didn’t want to leave. The white sandy beaches with water so turquoise it looks like its been through an Instagram filter, fresh fish for dinner and yummy cocktails watching the sun go down all seemed too good to leave behind….BUT…we had it on good authority from Jeff of whatdoesntsuck.com that we wouldn’t be disappointed with our next location.
On the morning we were due to leave we procrastinated and lay around the pool chilling until 2pm and then decided it was time to leave and make our way to Pongwe.
Once again we bargained with our taxi driver and agreed to pay $25 with a $5 tip for the journey.
The drive from Nungwi to Pongwe was about an hour long and we were feeling very deflated after leaving ‘paradise’. Not for long though….we arrived to Pongwe Bay Resort and were giddy with excitement as soon as we got through the gates. I knew the resort would be nice because of the recommendation we got but I didn’t think it would be THIS nice!
The resort was beautiful and each room is a little private bungalow with its own balcony looking out to the pool area. The atmosphere was very relaxed and because the whole resort is on sand no one wears shoes, which we loved. Even at dinnertime everyone goes to the restaurant in bare feet!
We booked the half board package for our stay here as there isn’t really anywhere else to go for food but it was lovely not having to worry about finding somewhere to go for dinner.
The breakfast was good, fruit and lots of nice breads followed by a choice of eggs / omelette or an English breakfast. There was a different dinner menu everyday and you made your choice at breakfast. The food at dinner was good, not amazing, but good.
After checking in we went exploring and saw some type of rock / building out in the sea. We decided to walk across the ocean to see what it was and discovered that it was The Rock Restaurant. We went inside to have a nosy around and the place is amazing! The staff were really friendly and welcoming and even showed us one of the little bungalows that you can rent to stay on the rock.
We liked it so much that we decided to go back the next day for lunch and it was great! How many times can you say you walked across the ocean to get to a restaurant!
The food was excellent, I had the fresh grilled Tuna and a glass of white wine and it came to $21.
You can jump off the rock or climb down the stairs to go for a swim. I decided to walk back across the ocean again and go sit by our gorgeous pool in Pongwe.
We had 3 wonderful days in Pongwe Bay Resort before leaving to spend our last night in Stone Town. En route Stone Town we stopped off at the spice market. I really enjoyed getting to see the Cinnamon, Jasmin, Coffee Beans, Cloves and Lemongrass all growing and the guide explained how they are produced into the products we receive in supermarkets. We also got to taste fresh coconut picked from the trees!
Taxi from Pongwe to Stone Town with spice tour included cost $40
Our last hotel of the trip was booked because it was located beside the ferry terminal in Stone Town and we were leaving on the 7.00am ferry the next morning. We had no expectations for this hotel as we knew we would be out exploring Stone Town for most of the day and not hanging around the hotel.
Sometimes its better to have no expectations, this way you can’t be disappointed however this place did not disappoint at all! The hotel was called The Mizingani Hotel and it reminded me of a Moroccan Riad with its decor and colours.
The room was beautifully decorated with two huge beds and the bath was immense!
Even the door to the hotel was pretty amazing!
After checking in we went to explore Stone Town and found the house (now a bar and restaurant) that Freddy Mercury lived in when he was a child, aptly named Mercury House.
There was such a nice atmosphere here that we decided to grab something to eat and chill for a bit.
Mercury House is the perfect location for people watching. There was a lot of activity on the beach with all the fishermen coming back in and boats of people arriving. After a quick walk around Stone Town we decided to return to Mercurys Bar and watch the sunset. We spent the rest of our evening here sipping Long Island Iced Teas and deciding that this would definitely not be our last visit to Zanzibar, we would explore Stone Town more on the next visit!