Top Eco-Friendly Activities to do in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is one of Africa’s tropical paradises set with white sand beaches, snorkeling havens and azure blue ocean which happens to also be a welcoming temperature. Islands in particular have many risk factors when it comes to eco-friendly practices given their far flung locations and logistics of recyling, however Tanzania has banned plastic and Zanzibar is starting to introduce more and more eco-tourism offerings allowing visitors to keep their footprints light and really benefit the local communities. Here are a few projects and activities you can support when visiting Zanzibar…

  1. Seaweed Co, Paje

Aside from making delicious skincare products such as body oils, butters, scrubs and soaps using seaweed as one of the ingredients, the project’s backbone are the local ladies who now get a sustainable income from farming and harvesting the seaweed. Instead of the seaweed being farmed and just exported out of the country, The Seaweed Co provides jobs for the local ladies in Paje as well as a few male guides from surrounding areas and in turn educates them on the properties of seaweed as well as how to harvest it and use it along with essential oils, beeswax and spices to make skincare products. Go and visit their centre and shop in Paje.


2. Do a Swahili Cooking Class at Red Monkey Lodge

You can’t get any closer to the beach if you tried and with beautiful simple island accommodation right on a quiet beach in Jambiani, you can’t go wrong. Red Monkey Lodge offers many activities to their guests, most of which benefit the local communities and one of these is a cooking class hosted by local Okala. Not only does Okala own his own restaurant and teach swahili cooking to tourists and chefs, he has also started a NGO as well as Marine cultures to educate locals on sponge farming and getting incomes in sustainable ways. Okala is someone you have to meet in Zanzibar.



3. Do an Eco-Tour with Okala and visit Marine Cultures.

One of the projects started by Okala, is Marine Cultures which teaches locals how to farm sponges to sell to make money. His passion lies in marine conservation education for locals but also for visitors. He is currently putting eco-tours together to take visitors to lessor known places in Zanzibar.

4. Day trip to Chumbe Island

Having just won an ITB award for Africa’s most sustainable project, Chumbe is a major success story in that it’s the first self-sustaining marine-protected island and its been running for 25 years.  A visit to the island will include a snorkeling trip in the pristine protected reef just off the island as well as a forest tour learning about the endangered species there. Turns out one day is not really enough to take it all so that leads me to the next one…


5. Stay in Chumbe’s Eco-Lodge

Funded by their eco-tourism alone, by staying in their eco-lodge set with solar panels, compost toilets, using water regeneration; you will be supporting all of the conservation projects on the island. I’ve been to many islands, but here I felt like i had been deserted on an island in the middle of paradise ( with staff not far away). This was I was able to enjoy the true tranquility of this piece of ocean and reef they work so hard to protect as well as the wonderful education projects they hold so dear. To date they have educated 10 000 local students on marine conservation such as guarding the living coral, teaching fishermen the importance of not fishing in this area allowing fish to grow before they are fished and the small ways to make a difference in their own homes. This place was pure bliss!


Top Things to do in Zanzibar

#1 Create your own Cocktails and Join the Jam Sessions at Red Monkey Lodge

Between 5-8pm create your own cocktails from 30 fresh local ingredients and on Mondays between 9pm- 12:30am join the crazy monday jam sessions with live guests from Zanzibar and abroad, Jambiani

#2 Do a Swahili Cooking Class

Join Chef Okala from Zanzibar Gourmet for a Swahili cooking class where you can try your hand at traditional techniques and locally sourced ingredients.

Passing down generations of cooking techniques learnt from his grandmother, Okala has much to teach about cuisine as well as marine conservation projects on the island.

At the end of the class, you will visit his local restaurant, said to be one of the best on the island to enjoy a meal.

Enquire at Red Monkey Lodge about this cooking class.and visit Zanzibar Gourmet for news on upcoming dining events.

#3 Stone Town Culinary Tour

Explore the culinary corners of Stone Town and discover where the best food is sold, how locals cook it and where the best spots are. Enjoy local delights and have lunch while learning about life in Zanzibar. Explore the market, taste fresh fruit and top it all off with coffee at Jaw’s corner.

Time for food! Ramadan has ended and the lunch places are buzzing again. Where is the food sold, how do the locals cook it, what are the best spots in Stone Town? Join us and find out.

#4 Chumbe Day Tour- Colors of Zanzibar

Visit the spectacular Chumbe Island Coral Park, a hub for sustainable tourism.Home to rare and endangered animals, Chumbe is an award-winning private nature reserve and one of very few pristine coral island around.

A visit to this island is an eco experience all by itself and houses a visitor and education center, nature trails, historical ruins, a full protected coral reef sanctuary and forest reserve where you can snorkel with a marine biologist in amazing reef home to over 400 species of fish and more than 200 species of coral, turtles, friendly sharks and more, learn about marine life with guides and relax in your private bungalow ( even as a day visitor).

Relax in the eco-bungalow for the rest of the day and shower before a delicious buffet is served.

Day trips to the island are dependent on availability at the eco-lodge. Bookings need to be made in advance especially overnight stays.

#5 Sundowner Dhow Trip

Drive to Michamvi and embark on a sailing trip aboard the Zanzibar dhow, Free spirit Michamvi, (also available for private charters and snorkeling trips) skirting the coastline of the island to the mangrove channels. Sip sundowners as the sun sinks into the horizon.

This excursion starts at the beach in front of the lodge. You will be introduced to the history and traditions of the village: you will see the real Zanzibari life.

After visiting fishermen, women groups, NGOs and a herbalist that will show you the tools of their trade, you will have a traditional Swahili lunch.

#7 Visit Prison Island

Visit the tortoise sanctuary, home to 150-year-old tortoises and snorkel around the coral that hugs the island.

The prison, originally built in 1893, housing violent prisoners and the sick, is now owned by a hotel.

#8 Jozani Forest walking tour

Home to swamp forest, mangroves, 6 000 red colobus monkeys ( one in danger of extinction), sun antelopes, elephant shrews and bush pigs, the Jozani forest formed part of the Jozani Chwaka Bay conservation project to protect the last bit of indigenous ground-water forest once covering the island.

Your entrance contributes partly to development projects as well as compensating farmers whose crops are damaged by the endemic monkeys.

#9 Specialty Coffee Workshop at Jambiani Social Club

Jambiani Social Club is an open living room for all creative people with a collaborative approach.

It is a meeting point, co-working space, cultural space and open container for cultural and environmental projects and the Brazilian baristas from Puzzle Coffee Shop in Stone Town will be hosting a speciality coffee workshop on coffees from Mbeya and Moshi regions

#10 Full Day Boat Cruise

Our favorite of all excursions: An entire day out spent dolphin watching, dhow sailing, snorkeling and tasting the best Zanzibar’s fruits and seafood.

This excursion includes snacks and drinks at a sandbank and a sumptuous seafood lunch with rock lobster and unlimited drinks on a desert island.

*Are you travelling to Zanzibar? Please note that plastic bags are banned now in the whole of Tanzania – even the ones you might bring in your luggage… So be mindful when packing!