Zanzibar Town, Kendwa, Stone Town, Paje, Pemba
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Lagoons glisten blue as they lap against white, expansive beaches. Wooden dhows sail on the wind, taking you to deserted islands. Exotic aromas and sounds will guide you through the labyrinthine alleys of Stone Town. Culture and history meet with tropical beach promise as you settle into your ultimate vacation in Zanzibar. Spanning two weeks and all the archipelago’s highlights, this is both an experiential and escapist vacation with all the best beaches and special, local highlights.
Kendwa – Indulgence on the Northern Beaches
If you were to dream of Zanzibar, then it would look much like Kendwa. It would have a long white beach with sand that is so soft that it will squeak beneath your feet, scatterings of forest along with palms that rise above the houses, and coral cliffs of translucent color and shape. It is to the North of the island where you will find the most famous beaches, which are the postcard settings that have helped put Zanzibar on the visitor map. It will be an hour’s transfer north from the airport to Kendwa, which is where you will check into your beachside bungalow and begin the indulgence. From your bungalow, you can walk straight out onto the sand, and then to Nungwe should you wish.
Day 2 - 4
Kendwa – Classic Zanzibar: Beaches, Snorkeling, Seafood, and Tranquility
Nungwe is Zanzibar’s most famous and popular beach resort. It stands on the island’s northern tip and arcs eastwards, with a string of resorts and wooden beachside restaurants. This is the only place where hotels and resorts are also found away from the coast. Nungwe can be lively if you want it to be, and there will be an excellent selection of places to dine, including seafood shacks where you eat with your feet in the sand.
Kendwa is located to the west of Nungwe and is separated by a two-mile stretch of mostly open, coral-fringed beach. Your resort will be located on Kendwa’s western edge, beyond where most tourists travel. Although the beach is not private, it will be extremely rare that you will see more than a couple of people on it. If you are to see someone on the beach, they are usually local fishermen that are heading out to their dhows. By staying here, you will enjoy the iconic northern beaches and activities, with seclusion and tranquility that will be more in keeping with the island’s overall atmosphere.
Coral reefs will stud the bays, and the snorkeling around here is superb. You will head out on a boat tour to small reefs, jumping in to snorkel with rays, reef sharks, and turtles. From tiny black and purple striped fish to languid groupers, it will be around the northern tip of Zanzibar that you will experience the greatest diversity of marine life. Many dive operators are based here as well, with the best sites mostly off the northern and northwestern coastline. Nothing will be planned for these three days, so you will have these days to do whatever you please on your getaway in Zanzibar.
Stone Town – Historical Walking Tour Through a Maze of Coral Houses
Traveling through lush plantations, you will head back south to Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site that is made up of tightly-packed coral houses. Donkey carts will squeeze through the alleys here, carrying fish and vegetables. Aromas will mingle with exotic sounds as you find mosques, temples, and churches near each other. The atmosphere will intensify in Darajani Bazaar, where spices will spill from stalls, and traders will wear highly colorful garments. Then, it will turn gloomy at the Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church that was built upon the Old Slave Market. Plus, you will also visit Tippu Tip’s House, which is the old home of the famous slave trader and probably the second most famous Zanzibari resident behind Queen frontman, late Freddy Mercury.
You will continue on a walking tour of the town that will connect nearly a millennium of history. The Hamamni Baths are Persian in design, with stunning geometric patterns across domed ceilings. In the Old Dispensary, you can connect cultures, while at waterfront palaces you can appreciate the nuance of Zanzibari building style. You will end the day in Forodhani Gardens, where locals and visitors come to relax along the water and eat from the fresh barbecue stalls.
Stone Town – Full-Day Traditional Dhow Sailing Cruise
Sandbanks will shimmer white to the west of Stone Town, and deserted islands will appear to be fables from a Robinson Crusoe story. Coral outcrops will poke above the water at low tide. Today, you will be cruising on a traditional wooden dhow with the wind in the sail as you head out towards mainland Africa. You may jump off to the boat at your leisure to snorkel the reefs. You can catch some sun as you pass sandbanks, stop at Prison Island for a barbecue lunch, and relax on the island’s beach. Here, you may also encounter tortoises, some of which will be over 150 years old and can weigh nearly 500 pounds. This will be a full-day dhow cruise, and you will return to Stone Town late in the afternoon.
Stone Town – Exploring the Spice Plantations
Two gloomy caves will make for grim stories on the journey to Zanzibar’s spice plantations. Both the Mangapwani Slave Chamber and Mangapwani Coral Cave are where slaves were kept before being exported to the Middle East and Asia. This practice continued through the 19th century, and it will seem as if stories are being whispered from the cave walls. After this, the rich smells and luscious greenery will appear even more vibrant when you arrive at the spice plantations. They will change the narrative, immersing you in fragrance and tropical scenes. You will explore a farm with a head grower, where you will learn about cloves, cardamom, vanilla, and a dozen other spices. You will also explore large fruit plantations and taste some fruit straight from the tree. After lunch at the plantation, you will return to Stone Town where the afternoon will be at your leisure.
Stone Town – Zanzibari Artisans and Cooking
Artisans continue to craft ornate doors in Stone Town. They continue to use a mix of Swahili and Arabian art, forging a style that has evolved over the centuries. By now you will have admired and photographed many of the Stone Town doors. An artisan will show you how they are made and what each element signifies. Gastronomy is another aspect of the culture that will consolidate different influences together. Having so many fresh spices and seafood to cook with also helps to create great, local cuisine. After the plantation, you will head into a restaurant kitchen for a fun workshop, where you will concoct some classic dishes such as pilaf. You will feast on the creations before another leisurely afternoon in Africa’s most culturally inspiring town.
Paje – Monkeys in the Forest and the Empty Eastern Coast
Heading east you will find forests in Zanzibar’s heart, where endangered colobus monkeys will sit elegantly in the treetops. Looking out with their black faces and white beards they will seem like a symbol of tranquility. Shimmering red fur lines their backs and adds to the elegant appearance. Duiker, which is a species of antelope that also roam Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, along with a superb collection of birds. You will spend two hours on a forest walk, getting intimate with the monkeys and encountering some of the less than 1000 red colobus still found in the wild. Then, you will continue another 20 minutes by road to Paje, where your resort will be waiting peacefully on the empty eastern coast.
Paje – Swimming with Dolphins and Lounging on the Beach
Dolphins come to Kizimkazi Bay every morning. In the dawn hours, they come here to eat fish, and by about 9 a.m. they will be back out in open ocean waters. So, you will need an early start today. From Paje, it is around a 40-minute drive to Kizimkazi. You will arrive just before sunrise as large dolphin pods play around the shallows, frolicking and somersaulting after their meal. These are wild dolphins, and you can jump in the water with them, following their effortless turns and listening to their underwater tweets and squeaks. It may be an early start, but you will have the rest of the day in paradise where you can doze off besides the beach.
Paje – Another Day in Paradise
Zanzibar’s southeastern coastline is low-rise and low-key. The beach stretches uninterrupted for some 20 miles, and you can walk it all at low tide. Other than high tide the ocean becomes a lagoon where you can wade out at knee depth to see marine life without needing to go snorkeling. Even at high tide, these will be safe and inviting waters that will be perfect for laying back and watching the sky. Paje has become popular with kite surfers while neighboring Jambiani also has a selection of accommodations.
Further up the coast, there is only a handful of resorts. Spacious and serene, the beaches here will be a complete escape from the everyday world, and with three days, you can truly settle into the rhythm. This afternoon you may consider visiting The Rock, which is one of Africa’s most celebrated restaurants and is situated on an isolated coral outcrop that is just off the shore.
Pemba – Scenic Flight and Underwater Suite
Turquoise colors will extend beneath the wingtips as you fly above the archipelago, which is a scenic flight that will take you from Zanzibar Town to the sister island of Pemba. You will land on an island of endless bliss and indulge in the scenery with thick forests that tumble down towards the beach. You will then check into your underwater suite and indulge in the inimitability. Lying back on the bed will be like going scuba diving, just without having to get wet. You will be in a dome, surrounded by a natural aquarium with sharks and turtles among those who roam past. Even after dark, the show will continue, with lights that will cast the ocean in a mystical glow, as well as attracting all manner of marine creatures.
Pemba – Sleeping in a Natural Aquarium
Today is another day in paradise for you to walk barefoot across the beaches and into the lagoon-like waters. You can rest in the shade that palms create, or go for a snorkel above your suite. Every so often you will want to return to the room and watch nature’s show, which is the aquarium that extends above your head. Fresh seafood will be on the menu every evening, usually tuna and marlin. There will be tropical fruit galore, and the atmosphere suggests you should forget about any notions of time. Zanzibar is relaxed, and Pemba is even more so, primarily because it receives very few tourists. It will be an idyllic way to round off two weeks in the archipelago. Twenty years from now there may be articles that write about the next great tropical island you have just visited. They will be talking about Pemba. For now, it is a hidden gem in the realm of secluded and serene getaways.
Zanzibar Town – Departure
You will wake up to sharks, and fly over the archipelago. Then, you will board your international flight. Two weeks have come to an end, but they will certainly never be forgotten.
- Sail to sandbanks and deserted islands on a traditional dhow
- Escape to the seclusion and serenity of Paje on the eastern coast
- Explore Stone Town’s history and culture on an intimate walking tour
- Discover Zanzibar’s finest beaches during a four-day stay in Kendwa
- Gasp at the tropical colors on a scenic flight over the archipelago
- Spend two nights in an underwater suite, surrounded by the islands’ marine wonder
- Jump into the water with wild dolphins and find colobus monkeys in the forest
- Visit the famous spice plantations and learn how the spices are used in Zanzibari cooking
- Meet with local artisans and discover the history to Zanzibari design, especially in Stone Town
- Create your own program on the beach, with snorkeling, diving, barbecued seafood, plus all the tranquility you need from an island vacation
Zanzibar impresses all of the senses. Lemongrass and cloves float on the breeze through spice plantations and local kitchens. The call to prayer echoes beautifully through Stone Town and is followed by clanging church and temple bells. Out on empty beaches, you will inhale the salty ocean breeze, feeling the freedom it brings from the ocean. White sand feels soft and indulgent beneath your toes, as nearby seafood barbecues entice you with familiar scents. From wooden doors and coral houses to tropical lagoons and famous beaches, Zanzibar is always easy on the eyes. However, after spending two weeks in the Zanzibari archipelago, you will learn that this remarkable destination has far more than postcard beauty.
With two weeks in Zanzibar, you can experience it all, staying on different beaches and getting immersed in the local culture. Head first to Kendwa, where the sublime coral cliffs and the unique experiences backdrop the beaches. Here, you will have the opportunity to snorkel, eat delicious seafood, scuba dive, and have secluded, lazy days on the white sand beach. After four days you will be tuned into the island rhythm. You will swap the beach for Stone Town on day five, where you will dive into the rich heritage and culture. Immerse yourself in the coral maze, spend a day cruising on a traditional dhow, visit spice plantations and a Zanzibari kitchen, and spend lazy evenings watching the sunset with a drink in hand.
Paje is on the undeveloped side of the island, where the beaches are long, and the lagoon stretches for miles. Travel here before a stop with monkeys in Jozani Forest, and then spend one of your Paje mornings swimming with dolphins in nearby Kizimkazi. It is another destination that evokes impressions of paradise, and you will be lounging around the beach in almost complete solitude. Finally, take a scenic flight to the sister island of Pemba, where you will stay in one of the world’s only underwater suites. It is a natural aquarium, and the show continues throughout the day and night, which will prove to be an intimate experience on an island that is yet to develop much tourist fame. Make sure your perfect vacation is an unforgettable one by seeing additional Tanzania travel ideas.
$6,295 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.9 stars based on 482 reviews
"Our travel planner listened to everything we said when...
Reviewed By Alison E.
"Our travel planners were very responsive and a pleasure...
Reviewed By James L.
"Our trip with our Tanzania trip planner was THE trip of...
Reviewed By Courtney V.
"Our accommodations were beautiful and all different."
Reviewed By Janine G.
"This travel company is definitely in the top 10%."
Reviewed By Devin T.
"Every request/change was listened to and accommodated to...
Reviewed By Meetu M.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era