Zanzibar: An affordable destination for a holiday in the Indian Ocean
In the gloom of winter, it’s easy to find yourself daydreaming about Indian Ocean islands. However, it’s a craving that might just as easily be cut short by anxieties about taking out a second mortgage. Yet such sun-drenched idylls as Mauritius and the Seychelles, which fleck this aquamarine ocean, aren’t all prohibitively expensive. Off the Tanzanian coastline, the archipelago of Zanzibar is eminently affordable. At Breezes Beach Club & Spa on the as-yet undeveloped south-eastern coast of Unguja (the main island, more commonly referred to as Zanzibar), a night’s half-board starts at £75 per person, which should leave enough money for several of its speciality “Zanzi-politano” cocktails. One of four appealing neighbouring five-star properties in the Zanzibar Collection (the others are The Palms, Baraza and Zawadi), Breezes overlooks Bwejuu–Paje Beach, a five-mile strip of largely deserted white sand. The gardens are a riot of colour, with bougainvillea, hibiscus and frangipani jostling for space.
Tour guide quote
“I recommend the Zanzibar Spice Tour at the Spice Farm near Stone Town. You can see how cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric and the highly prized vanilla are all grown. You can also smell the ylang ylang flowers that are used in the production of Chanel No 5. And at the end of the tour, you are presented with your very own crown of flowers.”
When to go
Because of its proximity to the Equator, Zanzibar is warm all year round. The dry months of July to September are the most popular period to visit.
How to get there
Kenya Airways (tel:020 8283 1818, kenya-airways.com) operates daily flights from Heathrow to Nairobi, with daily connections to Zanzibar. Return fares from £421 per person. Oman Air, Etihad, Ethiopian and Turkish Airlines also offer connecting flights from the UK.
Where to stay
The Zanzibar Collection (thezanzibarcollection.com) has four hotels on Bwejuu Beach. Breezes Beach Club & Spa has doubles from £75 per person per night. Baraza Resort & Spa has two-bedroom villas from £526 per night. Zawadi Hotel has one-bedroom villas from £482 per night. The Palms has one-bedroom villas from £615 per night.
Where to eat
The Africa House Hotel (africahousehotel.com) in Stone Town, 400m from the Old Fort of Zanzibar, has a restaurant with a huge terrace overlooking the ocean. A great spot to have a cocktail while watching the sun set. House of Spices (houseofspiceszanzibar.com) in Stone Town serves an excellent melange of Italian and Swahili cuisines in a buzzing atmosphere.
What to see
Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, the only national park in Zanzibar, is a wonderful place to see the extremely lively red colobus monkey, native to the island, leaping from tree to tree. The Slave Market Museum in Stone Town is a profoundly moving exhibition about the Zanzibar slave trade. More information For more local attractions: tanzaniatouristboard.go.tz.