Top places to eat in Zanzibar

A tropical paradise known for its azure blue ocean, adventure water activities and the superb mix of African and Indian cultures; there are multitudes of flavours, spice and fragrances to sample and enjoy in the food. It’s not called the spice island for nothing so come expecting dishes carefully prepared with a cacophony of spices. Here’s a few favourites you should try when visiting Stone Town…

#1 Lunch at Chumbe Island

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). When visiting the island on a day trip lunch is an abundant affair of seafood, salads and rice/potato-based dishes. All fish are caught sustainably and are on the green seafood guide list Enjoy lunch after a snorkel and relax on a lounge beside the ocean after.  This place was pure bliss!

Website: Chumbe Island Coral Park

IMG_3181JPG

IMG_3261JPG

#2 Dinner 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. With live music, the sensation of sand under your feet and the sunset smudges coloring the sky over the ocean, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better view in Zanzibar. The menu changes daily and will be written on the blackboard. I loved the spicy octopus and samosas. But to be honest- everything was a sumptuous affair.

Book your spot for dinner here: Red Monkey Lodge 

IMG_2880JPG IMG_2888JPG

#3 Breakfast at Protea Hotel- Mbweni Ruins

Perched beneath the palm trees and right on the Mbweni beach in the neighborhood adjacent to Stone Town, the Protea Hotel is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a buffet breakfast overlooking the ocean, mangroves and the beach. Linger a bit longer for lunch and cocktails beside the pool and find coolness in the shade of the trees.

For more info visit: Protea by Marriott

#4 The Taarab restaurant

Atop the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in the heart of Stone Town is a roof top restaurant overlooking  the old city and the ocean. These are one of the restaurants which really impart the romance of Zanzibar especially once sun sets and night falls. Enjoy scrumptious breakfasts in the morning, sundowners in the evening and warm dinners  at the a la carte restaurant outside on the terrace. The Chef is known for creating marvelous meals and the team are known for wonderful gestures of hospitality.

Website: Doubletree by Hilton

#5 Emerson Tea House Restaurant and Secret Garden

Get whisked away by the romance of Stone Town and book your seat at The Tea House at Emerson Hurumzi showcasing true Swahili style with lush Persian rugs, low tables and live traditional Taarab music. Known for serving up some of the best meals in Zanzibar, one cannot help but get swept away to another time and relax into Afro-Persian luxury.  The restaurant only seats 35 guests so reservations are essential for lunch and dinner.

While the rooftop dinner venue of the Emerson is only open for dinner, Downstairs the secret spice garden is open during the day. With shaded spots beneath the trees and umbrellas to enjoy lunch, this magical little garden provides a welcome reprieve from the heat and the food is pretty delicious! Definitely try to the coconut curry.

Website: Emerson on Hurumzi

IMG_2704JPG IMG_2700JPG

 

#6 Ma Shallah cafe

Started by local Yaseer, this buzzing restaurant is said have some of the best Indian meals in Zanzibar and this comes from Indian guests who tend to be very choosy about how their Indian meals are prepared. With well loved briyanis and butter chicken, fresh juice and fresh food, this is a stop you can’t miss on your culinary journey through the city. Watch how the naan is baked and sit outdoors watching the world go by.

 

Website: Ma Shallah Cafe

 

 

#7 Maru Maru

Another rooftop delight and one with a pool, Maru Maru is a welcome visit after a day of shopping in stone town. Enjoy views of the ocean and this dynamic little town from the top and take a dip in between drinks and lunch. On a hot day, the breeze up here is dreamy.

IMG_2799JPG IMG_2805JPG IMG_2812JPG

Website: Maru Maru

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.

IMG_2935JPG

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.

IMG_2888JPG IMG_2880JPG

 

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…

IMG_3181JPG IMG_3147JPG

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!

IMG_3146JPG