A Girls Getaway to Zanzibar

September 26, 2013
activities, vacation, zanzibar
A Girls Getaway to Zanzibar

A Girls Getaway to Zanzibar

As our near-empty plane descended over the mesmerizing, azure waters of the Indian Ocean, we stared out the cabin windows, awe-struck. Then, below us, an emerald green expanse appeared, surrounded by a silky, white setting of the softest looking sand. Zanzibar has it all, mile-long beaches and iconic African culture, dense jungles and rich history, brilliantly teeming coral reefs and a flawless vacation atmosphere. It really is paradise, and the perfect place for a week-long girls’ getaway.

Stone Town, the largest city on the island, is a maze of twisting, turning alleyways and market stalls exploding with every spice, fruit, and vegetable imaginable. The Portuguese and Arab influenced architecture immediately capture one’s imagination and whisks them away to long-ago times ruled by sultans, colonial powers and a booming slave trade.

Today, though, this city is a tourist’s dream; it is both the jumping off point for an incredible array of day trips and the island’s historical, culinary, shopping and nightlife hub.

Mornings were spent on excursions out of town, afternoons spent shopping and lounging on rooftop terraces that overlooked sparkling blue waters and evenings spent eating our way through piles of seafood and naan and sipping ginger-lime sugarcane juice on the pier.

On our girls getaway, Bridget, Hayley and I spent three full days exploring the nooks and crannies of the ancient city. Mornings were spent on excursions out of town, afternoons spent shopping and lounging on rooftop terraces that overlooked sparkling blue waters and evenings spent eating our way through piles of seafood and naan and sipping ginger-lime sugarcane juice on the pier.

One of our favorite outings was a boat ride to Prison Island, a tiny, picturesque key that is home to dozens of giant tortoises that love to have their necks scratched by obliging visitors. Some of the beasts are upwards of 150 years old! There are also tiny baby tortoises, but sadly, they’re kept locked up or else there would be one crawling around my bedroom right now.

In Nungwi, one can begin to appreciate the island life for all it’s worth.

Though we had an entire week on the island, we thought better of running ourselves ragged and only visited Stone Town and Nungwi, a small village on the northern-most tip of the island.

The two-hour daladala ride to the opposite end of paradise was no more painful than the Ethiopian equivalent, and waiting for us at the end were miles of pristine beaches and the promise of world-class coral reefs just below the water’s shimmering surface.

In Nungwi, one can begin to appreciate the island life for all it’s worth.

Every morning as the tide rolls out, the fishermen coast in on their wooden dhows, boats laden with the day’s fresh catch.

Every morning as the tide rolls out, the fishermen coast in on their wooden dhows, boats laden with the day’s fresh catch. No matter what time it is, the already-delicious meals are get even better because breathtaking view and toes curled comfortably in the sand. The harsh sun seems to move across the sky at its own pace, and with cell phones and watches tucked away in suitcases, all indicators of time are lost. “Hakuna matata,” they say.

Our four days in Nungwi brought on such a relaxed state of mind that the three of us found it difficult to do anything but stare out at the subdued surf, eyes glazed over and smiles plastered across our sun-kissed faces. While Hayley and Bridget perfected their beach-bumming skills, I spent mornings scuba diving along some of the most incredible reefs I’ve ever seen.

Girls Getaway to Zanzibar
Girls Getaway to Zanzibar

Lazy green turtles, sketchy octopi, fluttering stingrays, graceful dolphins and schools and schools of hundreds of varieties of fish graced every minute of my underwater adventures. In the afternoons, as the tide would roll back in, we would leave our sandy towels and swim in waters unimaginably clear and warm until the sun sank below the watery horizon.

Who needs a job? Perhaps we could make our Peace Corps readjustment allowance stretch for years. Is being responsible all it’s cracked up to be?

To say that leaving Zanzibar was difficult is an understatement of great proportions. The three of us laughed over cocktails on our last night as we discussed ways to stay on the island forever. So what if our uncontrollable frizz-ball hair never went back to normal; to wake up in paradise each day would be worth it.

Who needs a job? Perhaps we could make our Peace Corps readjustment allowance stretch for years. Is being responsible all it’s cracked up to be? Our answer was a resounding “no,” but alas, the real world stretched out its nimble, dependable hand and dragged us right onto that Ethiopian Airlines flight and back into our normal states of mind. Just as the sun rose in Zanzibar, we landed in Addis Ababa.

 

Girls Getaway to Zanzibar

Related Reading

Romance, Health, and Safety in Zanzibar: A Conversation with Katrina Marks
Zanzibar Tourism: Describing My Home to the People of Zanzibar
Volun-touring Versus Volunteering in Zanzibar
The Truth About Zanzibari Men
I Buried My Heart in Zanzibar

Have you traveled to Zanzibar? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

About Katheryn Hoerster

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