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Published: March 10th 2016
Located in the east of Africa, is a semi autonomous part of Tanzania. The official language is Swahili and locals practice Islam.
The flight from Dubai via flydubai is approximately 7 hours and 50 minutes with an hour lay over at Dar Es-Salaam, the capital city. Our round trip fare was 2,200 AED per person (including our additional check in luggage for the diving equipments and personal seating option), however during off season, the airfare is about 1,200 AED.
From the airport, we were picked up by our hotel's service which costs $60 per car, one way. The drive to Nungwi, where our hotel, The Z Hotel is located, is at northern part of Zanzibar, which is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes drive. The ride was smooth and because its already late, there was no traffic. The only bumpy area was when we arrived in Nungwi, entering the resort, which only lasted for 10 minutes. THE Z HOTEL.
We stayed the whole duration of our vacation (December 4-14, 2016) in this contemporary and classy hotel, which we paid for $1,680. Room rates vary depending on the season. It was awarded with Certificate of Excellence winner
on 2015 and is the 2016 travelers' choice (Tripadvisor), located in the northern tip of Zanzibar (Nungwi). The staffs were really friendly and accommodating that you will certainly feel at home. The atmosphere is cozy and very relaxing--perfect for couples and solo travelers who just want to chill. They have few bars and restaurants you can choose from. Our top favorites are the rooftop bar, a perfect place to watch the sunset and the Saruche restaurant where they served delicious fresh food (the best grilled shrimp!). It is good enough that tourists staying from other hotels are coming over for a sumptuous meal. ACTIVITIES
. A 10-day-stay in this magnificent place gave us enough time to do a lot of activities. On our first day, we went for a sunset cruise
($30 per person). We were mesmerized by the beautiful sunset while aboard the Stingray, enjoying our white wine. Plus, we made friends with the other 5 tourists on board.
Next day, since I have no diving experience, I did the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) course which costs $130 w/ 1 open water dive + $60 for an extra dive, while my boyfriend went diving
thru East Africa Diving Center
which is just 10 minutes walk from our hotel. The course just took 1.5 hours: discussion and a pool dive. Meanwhile, he did 8 dives (2 dives per day) which costs $360 + equipment rent if you don't have one. The day after my course, I went with them for the open water dive and dived 12m-13m with Cholo, my ever patient diving instructor. Though I had difficulty in equalizing, it was a fun experience. The Diving center is owned by a German couple. They are nice and made sure that everything went smoothly.
Here are the list of diving sites that we tried (well, mostly by my boyfriend): Leven Bank, Watabomi, Nungwi coral garden, Tumbatu Island, Kendwa reef, Mnemba atoll (which comprises of few different reefs). There were few dive sites where there were areas that are shallow enough to snorkel, which I surely enjoyed. The snorkel costs between &30-$50 depending on the snorkel sites. I surely recommend the Mnemba atoll--good visibility, lots of coral reefs and colorful fishes.
We also visited the Prison Island
, an isolated island, 30 minutes private boat ride from the mainland, used as a quarantine station for
yellow fever cases in the 80's. It is now the home of Giant land tortoise , a gift to Zanzibar from the Seychelles government. The oldest one up to date is 192 years old!! On the island, you have the chance to feed and pet the tortoises. This half day tour is a great way to experience history and wildlife. Before our hotel driver drove us back to the resort, we had 2 hours to check out the Stone town, the oldest part of Zanzibar City. This day trip costs us $120 in total.
Another, tourist spot is the Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond,
a 15-20 minutes walk from our hotel. The group helps conserve the population of sea turtles. They employed 20 local villagers and saved more than 200 . Exemplary right?
Last but not least, my favorite, the Safari Blue
, a must do tour. After reaching the Bay of Fumba (30-40 minutes drive from our hotel), we boarded the dhow with 10 other tourists, and sailed to the beautiful stretch of sand accessible during low tide. You wont be disappointed with the beautiful coral rings surrounding the island. We also went to 2 snorkel sites (I
forgot the names) and it was WOW--perfect visibility, big colorful corals and lots of different species of fishes. A perfect day treat for beachbums. In between the snorkelings, the dhow will transfer you to an inhabited island of Kwale, where you'll have your lunch by the beach. They served us fresh and mouthwatering barbecued lobster, the best one I have tasted by far. They also served barbecued shrimps, squid, octopus and fish and fresh fruits for desert. After lunch, you still have time to walk the white sandy stretch of the beach. Then, we explored the marvelous mangrove lagoon where you can enjoy a quick swim before coming back to the coast.
We did all our activities via East Africa Diving
(diving and some snorkeling), and Mrembo Tours
both are affiliated with Z hotel. The guys know what they were doing, so everything went smoothly as planned--one of the few things that made our stay there superb.
One of the many activities that I love while being there was sipping my pina collada while reading a good book and enjoying the sun, the cool wind and the picture perfect view from the hotel pool. Couldn't ask for a
more relaxing way to spend my lazy days in that marvelous place.
JUST SO YOU KNOW
. For Filipinos and Canadians, a tourist visa is required. There is an embassy located in Dubai. You can just drop by to submit your form and other requirements which include: copy of passport and UAE visa, 2 passport size photos, filled form, copy of your hotel reservation and return ticket. It is also advised that you get your yellow fever vaccine before the trip. Visa fee is 200 AED per person. Visa application is from 9am to 1pm (Sunday - Thursday). We picked up our passports 4 working days after. For the yellow fever vaccine, you can only get it from the government hospital/clinic here in Dubai. We did ours at Mankhool clinic and paid 300 AED each for the vaccine. You are also advised to take Malaria prophylaxis, however we didn't take one. For us, the side effects of the medicine outweigh the pros, especially the prophylaxis medicine doesn't go well with alcohol. We just made sure to bring mosquito repellent lotion and spray.
Our vacation was truly an amazing experience. It was a love at
first sight for a beach bunny like myself. The white powdery beach and warm turquoise waters of the Indian ocean on a tropical island-- A PARADISE. Zanzibar is really worth a visit.
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