Catching a small boat to Prison Island is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Your captain will explain the history of the island, which despite its name and initial intentions has never been home to a prisoner. You will also visit the tortoise sanctuary where Aldabra giant tortoises sedately stroll past your feet looking for spinach leaves to chew. Originally a gift from the British governor of the Seychelles the tortoises now range from only a few days old to huge ancient beasts some of which are over 150 years old. Enjoying the tranquil turquoise waters of Prison Island before heading back to Stone Town is a refreshing escape from the tropical heat of the archipelago.
The beaches of Zanzibar are paradise. The water is so calm and blue that it takes your breath away. In combination with the white sand, green vegetation and smiling people it is hard to imagine a more beautiful place. To the north Nungwi and Kendwa are two stunning beaches. Both are home to numerous dive centres that offer trips to numerous locations for incredible sea life and visibility in the warm waters of Zanzibar. Nungwi is the perfect place to watch sunset. Floating in the crystal waters painted pale pink and blue by the sunset as local sailboats pass by makes the rest of the world disappear. Just a few miles away, Kendwa is a peaceful retreat by day and a busy beach party by night. Everyone dances barefoot in the sand to pulsing music while sipping exotic cocktails.
The beaches of the south are distinguished by their magnificent tides. As the sea retreats hundreds of meters it reveals shallow tide pools in the white sand. Local girls can be seen scanning the beach for beautiful shells, while boys snorkel in the shallows in search of octopus. Small untouched villages, such as Dhow, are full of people going about their daily lives. They offer happy karibus and jambos while pointing you in the direction of the beach and make Zanzibar so special.
Kizimkazi is a southern beach specializing in dolphin tours. Small boats will take you through the waves in search of these magical mammals. Your first sight will be of smooth grey bodies breaking the surface of the water beside your boat. Snorkel and mask in place you slip into the water as the boat slows and are instantly surrounded by dolphins. It is mesmerizing. Watching families play at the bottom of the sea is easy in the clear water and trying to keep up with them as they dart through the water is wonderful. It would be impossible to explain to family and friends how elegant they are under the water and how close they get without footage from a waterproof camera such as the Garmin Virb. It is a spectacular way to experience the Indian Ocean.
The Rock restaurant on Michanwi Pingwe beach is a unique spot to catch dinner or lunch while enjoying the beaches of Zanzibar. As the name might suggest it stands on a rock in the ocean, and happens to serve incredible food. Splashing through the shallow water to the steps of the restaurant or catching a boat if the water is deeper makes this one restaurant where shoes are more trouble than they are worth.