Made famous for its spices and the slave trade of the 19th century, Zanzibar Island is much more than a stopping point on an itinerary, and can be seen as a destination in itself. What the island offers is a unique combination of outstanding beaches, along its eastern edge, interesting activities, such as visiting a working spice farm, and the cultural delights of Stone Town, with Arabian fortresses and minarets.
Roughly speaking, the island is a fairly undeveloped affair with only around 5 main roads, all leading back to the main town, Zanzibar, on its western edge. This simplicity makes it the perfect destination for those that are looking to explore a little as, should you reach the beach, you know you have gone wrong!
Geographically, the island is only around 40mks across and 100kms from north to south at its widest points. Featuring outstanding, powder white beaches along its eastern shores, flanked by barrier reefs, and the UNESCO World heritage site of Stone Town on its western edge, the island itself (Unguja in Swahili) is fairly narrow, with a ridge running through its middle from north to south. Along its eastern coastline runs a protective barrier reef and then the Indian Ocean. This is where the best beaches are located, all with coral white sand and gently lapping waters.
Along the western side of the island runs the Zanzibar Channel and is where the main town (Zanzibar Town) and where the famous UNESCO World heritage site of Stone Town are located. While there are a few pockets of good beach along this western edge (namely around Kendwa), this side of the island is not really seen as being the place to go for the beach-bound.
With its location, barrier reef and outstanding beaches Zanzibar can offer all of the attractions that most crave such as scuba diving, glorious beaches, fresh seafood and much more. For those that are a little restless there is a small forest in the interior called Jozani that has indigenous red colobus monkeys, and the spice tours in one of the small farms just outside Zanzibar Town are a fascinating glimpse into why this island has become so famous.