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Destination facts:
Zanzibar and the coast
Zanzibar Island off the Tanzanian mainland coast is a popular destination for beach holidays. Many visitors combine a safari in northern or southern Tanzania with a stay on Zanzibar, while others come for the attractions of the island only.

The mainland coast has similar areas, where hotels and activities offer good beach holidays. Such coastal beaches can be found in Pangani on the northern coast, in Kilwa on the southern, in Bagamoyo north of Dar es Salaam, as well as around Dar es Salaam itself. Saadani National Park is unique in offering both beaches and safari wildlife.

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Zanzibar and these mainland destinations offer white beaches, palm trees and pleasant water temperatures all year round, and good opportunities for snorkelling, diving and good big game fishing. A long history of Arab, Portuguese and British rule has left its marks in culture, livelihood and architecture, so there is much to see, too.
 
Beach in Pangani on the mainland coast.

Zanzibar Island
The fabled island of Zanzibar, former seat of the sultan of Oman and once the centre of the East African slave trade, is today a tropical destination for leisurely beach holidays, combinable with active water sports and fishing, and with touring the island's Afro-Arabian culture that was moulded by history. Most visitors come to stay along the east coast and the north, where the beaches are generally the best.

Hotels ranging from budget to luxury, and from small and personal to comfortable resorts, are scattered along the coast, some in clusters for more service and activity, others more secluded. Diving, snorkelling and fishing is widely available, to some extent in the Indian Ocean right outside the hotels, and by boat to the best reefs and other prime areas. Other boat tours bring you to see or swim with dolphins, or to smaller islands surrounding Zanzibar.
 

The fortress in Stone Town.

On land, the most popular tour may be the one to Stone Town. Stone Town is the old Arabic centre of Zanzibar Town, the largest town on the island, and is known for its Afro-Arabian architecture, its inlaid doors, and its narrow winding alleys. The hotels found here are established in genuine Zanzibari old-style buildings, featuring corresponding interiors and atmosphere. In the evenings, the seafront area Forodhani fills with strollers and food stalls serving grilled meat, fish and local specialities.

Other tours visit the spice farms that once brought wealth to the island, the old Jozani Forest, and cultural sites such as mosques and ruins.

Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ/HTZA) has scheduled connections with Dar es Salaam (a 20-minute flight), Arusha and Kilimanjaro (1 hour), and Nairobi in Kenya (2 hours), allowing for smooth combinations of safaris and beach holidays. It's a 1.5-hour drive from the airport to the most distant hotels on the northern tip of the island.

More about Zanzibar
 

Mnemba dive site off Zanzibar Island.
 
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Page updated 8 June 2012