For those adventurous couples looking to honeymoon in an exotic location, the island of Zanzibar will provide a rich and romantic experience. Influenced by the spice trade as well as the culture and traditions brought here from the Portuguese, the Omani Arabs and the English, Zanzibar is a destination like no other.
Located off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar was an independent country until 1964 when it and several smaller islands became part of the United Republic of Tanzania. Tourism is a growing industry here, with efforts being made to attract visitors yearning to explore multiple cultures, diverse cuisine, pristine coral reefs, deep sea game fishing, or simply a chance to experience the allure of a Sultan’s ancient palace.
Romance will blossom as you wander the narrow, shaded streets of Stone Town, the capital city, on a sultry afternoon. Here you can almost catch the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove in the air as you hear the call to prayer that beckons from one of the city’s 50 mosques. The chance to relive the allure of long ago can be yours as you and your spouse set sail from Kilele Square in a traditional wooden Dhow for some of the small islands off Stone Town.
Though your journey here may be far, the rewards will be great. Nature will exhibit a spellbinding display as you view the acrobatics of bottlenose dolphins, the magnificence of cresting whales, or schools of multi-colored fish that scurry just beneath the water. You can also explore the Jozani Forest – a wildlife haven – to view the rare Red Colobus monkey that only exists on Zanzibar, or take a leisurely stroll through the refurbished Forodhani Gardens at sunset as many of Stone Town’s resident do.
Magic and mystery intertwine in Zanzibar, along with the warm and generous spirit of its people. Through song, dance, and ritual — both ancient and modern — your heart and soul will be forever changed here.
- VISIT THE HOUSE OF WONDERS. Located on the waterfront in Stone Town, and originally built in 1883, this building is one of six palaces built by Barghash bin Said, the second Sultan of Zanzibar. One of the most prominent buildings in the area, the House of Wonders is now home to a museum which exhibits many items reflective of the diverse Zanzibari culture.
- EXPERIENCE DEEP SEA FISHING. Renowned for its excellent game fishing, a honeymoon in Zanzibar can provide an exhilarating deep sea adventure as you hunt for yellow fin tuna, billfish, blue marlin and other fish native to the local waters. Half day and full day charters are available from the Pemba Channel Fishing Club (www.pembachannel.com), or Fishing Zanzibar (www.fishingzanzibar.com).
- CHECK-OUT THE FILM FESTIVAL. If you plan to go to Zanzibar in summer, time your visit to coincide with the Zanzibar International Film Festival – East Africa's largest film, music and arts festival. This event presents African film, music and art at its finest. Main events are held in Stone Town with some also held on Pemba Island and mainland Tanzania. (www.ziff.or.tz)
- SAIL ON A DHOW. Take a romantic sunset cruise with the Original Dhow Safaris Company. Leave by the jetty at Dolphin View Paradise on a dhow, a hand-crafted wooden sailing vessel similar to those that have navigated the coast of Africa for centuries. With cocktails in hand, you can view a stunning sunset together.For those planning a destination wedding, you can also sail away to a sandbank just off Stone Town where a "chapel" will be built for your private ceremony before you and your guests sail back to shore for a joyous wedding reception at one of the local hotels or restaurants. (www.dhowsafaris.net)
Tips and Advice
- POPULATION: Approximately 1,00,000 for both Zanzibar and Pemba Island.
- LANGUAGE: The official languages are Swahili and English.
- RELIGION: Zanzibar is predominantly an Islamic society. However, Hindu and Christianity are also practiced here.
- ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports and Visas are required for all visitors. Check with any Tanzanian High Commission or Consulate.
- WEATHER: Zanzibar experiences ideal holiday weather for most of the year. The heat of summer is often cooled by pleasant sea breezes. Temperatures average 77-84? Fahrenheit (25-29? Centigrade).
- ELECTRICITY: 220 - 240 volt AC.
- CURRENCY: The Tanzania shilling is the official currency, but US dollars are widely accepted.
- INTERNATIONAL DIALING CODE: +255
HELPFUL HONEYMOON HINTS
- DRESS: Since Zanzibar is predominately Muslim, tourists are advised to dress conservatively outside of the resort areas. Loose fitting, non-transparent clothing is recommended. Women should try to have both shoulders and legs covered.
- SHOPPING: Head for Stone Town where you can shop for items from around the globe. Gold, handmade beads and silver, antiques, textiles, spices, wooden carvings and much more can be found here. Just be sure to avoid purchasing anything made from endangered species, such as shells, ivory and tortoiseshell.
- GETTING AROUND: Arranging for a car rental is relatively easy in Stone Town. Just make sure you have a valid International Driver's License. You may also need to purchase a permit to drive. Taxis can also be hired in Stone Town.For the adventuresome, Dala dalas (mini-buses) are readily available for travel to some of the more rural areas of Zanzibar. They are also less expensive than taxis. However, they are typically very crowded.
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