Note: This was during the time after my camera broke before I had the chance to buy a new one. Being in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been with only an iPhone (and a GoPro) for photos broke my heart a little, but I think you can still tell how stunning it is!
We decided to spend our final three days in Tanzania relaxing on the beautiful island of Zanzibar. I wish we could have stayed longer, but it just didn’t make budgetary sense. Zanzibar is more expensive than the rest of Tanzania.
We spent our first night in Stone Town, followed by two nights at a beach resort on the eastern coast of the island. After three and a half weeks of pretty low-quality accommodations, Zanzibar turned out to be just what we needed.
We were giddy from the time of our arrival at our hotel in Stone Town. That place felt downright palatial. We had air conditioning and a giant, beautiful, tiled shower. We were up on the top floor and had a view of the sea from our balcony. It was lovely.
After settling in for a bit, we ventured out for dinner. We ended up at a rooftop bar/restaurant. It was mostly for tourists, but that evening sipping mojitos and watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean, we didn’t care. It was exactly what we needed. It’s difficult for me to explain our semi-irrational joy. I think it was just the feeling of being comfortable for the first time in weeks. We ordered two cocktails each and didn’t care how much they cost!
The next day, we spent the morning exploring Stone Town. It’s a fascinating place full of narrow, winding alleys. It’s easy to get lost, though luckily we had phones with data plans and Google Maps to help us get around.
The buildings are mostly made out of coral, which is why they are starting to crumble. I found myself obsessed with the elaborate doors.
We didn’t do much but wander and shop. (Lilly bought some things. I just browsed.)
It’s worth noting that the population of Zanzibar is almost entirely Muslim. This is because Zanzibar was part of the Sultanate of Oman for hundreds of years and only merged with mainland Tanzania in 1964. As a result, it is recommended that tourists, especially, women dress modestly. This means covering your legs and shoulders. If you’re staying at one of the many beach resorts, it’s okay to be in a swimsuit, but in Stone Town you should cover up.
After lunch, a driver drove us the 45-ish minutes to our resort near the town of Pongwe. When we arrived, we were in for a pleasant surprise. We had booked the cheapest rooms available there, which are in the main building above the hotel’s restaurant. However, they had some of the nicer beach bungalows available and offered us a free upgrade. I was so excited, I could have cried. So we ended up with our own little fenced in bungalow with a small private beach and a gorgeous view of the ocean.
I can’t say enough good things about the place we stayed, Seasons Lodge. It may not be a five-star resort (I would call it “rustic luxury.” Is that a thing?), but the property is beautiful and the service is great! Robes, straw sunhats, and a beach bag are provided in your room. There’s a lovely pool area with lots of lounging space and a bar where you can order drinks or lunch/snack foods.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the restaurant area of the main building, and there’s an additional bar there as well.
Every night while we ate dinner the staff would come into our bungalow to turn down our beds, put down the mosquito nets, and spray a mosquito repellant around the outside of the nets.
We spent most of our time in Pongwe just relaxing. We could only get internet access when we were sitting in one particular spot by the restaurant, which was such a blessing. Instead of spending our time mindlessly browsing the internet, we read books, listened to music, and watched the tides go in and out.
The tides are quite dramatic in Zanzibar. At mid-day, it was a several hundred yard walk to get to the water, but at night the ocean pounded up against the rocks our resort was built on. It’s really cool to see, and it also means that during the day you can walk out and explore tide pools full of sea stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and crabs.
Though most of our time was spent lounging, we did get out to explore the tide pools, as well as to do some sea kayaking! There was a strong current moving in one direction, so the first half of our kayaking time was easy. We barely paddled, as the tide pushed us along the coast. Traveling against the current to go back to our resort, however, proved challenging. Mostly we cracked ourselves up, though, and took silly pictures with the GoPro.
In case you didn’t know, when you want to take selfies with a GoPro, what you do is push a button that makes it start taking a photo every half second or so until you tell it to stop. This makes for some pretty funny outtake photos. For your (and my) comedic pleasure, I’ve decided to share a few of them here.
As you can see, we had a blast during our weekend in paradise. All too soon it was time to pack up and head off to the airport for our next adventure: Thailand!