How is it even possible that a couple of days after returning from a holiday, it starts to become just a distant memory?
Last week the hardest decision to be made was what bikini to wear with time spent sunbathing or reading under a shaded canopy. Forward to now and reality has returned with a sharp jolt. Still, I can't complain. The 6 nights spent in Zanzibar was everything it needed to be.
We booked this holiday at a stressful work time and just knowing that a deliciously calm break was waiting for us in December was the motivation that we needed to get us through 6 day weeks and multiple project juggling.
The hotel that we chose was called Kono Kono Beach Resort, found after one of my TripAdvisor binges. The general consensus was that it was private, tranquil and on one of the best beaches in the world. Having reflected on our stay I can agree on all points - there are only 26 villas so it is rare to be near other guests, there is, quite frankly, naff all to do, so tranquility is the order of the day and the beach? It is absolutely the best I have experienced in my life with sand so fine that it feels like silk.
It was important that the hotel rated highly because this was the place we spent almost all our time. We paid extra for a beach pavilion villa and other than breakfast and dinner, lazed on sun-beds at our doorstep, dipped in the plunge pool or lay on the gorgeous canopy bed lounger. Every now and then we walked along the coastline beyond the hotel's borders but the only other time we seriously ventured out was to go to The Rock restaurant - a "must do" due to it's quirk of being located in the middle of the Indian Ocean and depending on high-tide, requires a quick boat trip to climb aboard.
With such a limited view of Zanzibar it's difficult for me to say whether I recommend it or not. How I have generally described it to people since returning is that if you want a sanitised paradise experience, go to the Maldives. I say this because there is an "edge" to Zanzibar that you just would not get exposed to when visiting a developed tourist destination. There is political instability (although what country doesn't have that at the moment) and as soon as you leave the airport you will get confronted with the socio-economic problems that it's population deal with. You will get gently hassled as you walk along public beaches (although a friendly no thank you works fine) and there are urban parts of the island that come with warnings for tourists and are best left unvisited unless you are with a guide. This is all paradoxically packaged with the most stunning scenery and a climate that sees the sun shine for 12 hours a day.
Would I go back? Yes, maybe....the advent of Qatar Airways and FlyDubai heading to the island means that tourism is gearing up, especially for GCC residents, and I think there will be a huge transformation in the next few years. It's an interesting place and one that I would definitely consider for a long weekend in the future. If you are thinking of going I would say:
a) The best beaches are on the east coast - this is where our hotel was.
b) Be prepared to spend - anywhere can be done on a budget of course but I was shocked at how expensive it was. Our hotel was just under $500 a night and excursions were $$$...a trip to the butterfly garden down the road for $150? Yeah, no thanks - I'll just lie here and carry on reading my book. You can take up offers of boat trips and excursions with the "beach boys" that you meet along the beach and they are a lot cheaper - although of course no insurance/caveat emptor and all that.
c) Take a lot of sunscreen - the proximity to the equator means that the sun beats down intensely so don't be a typical Brit Abroad and burn yourself on day 1.
With that lengthy summary done, here are some pictures of beautiful Zanzibar :)
a) Triangl bikinis are not for me - I got sent one, like every other blogger, and although I do think they photograph well (surprisingly so to be honest) that scuba material only made me feel restricted - AKA fat with love handles that I never realised I had. I wore it for one day and then reverted to Vicky Secret and my much loved Luella bikini instead. OVERRATED.
b) One Teaspoon shorts look like diapers but are amazing and I wore them all the time.
c) I barely wore shoes the entire week.
d) This is the first time I have been confident in a bikini for years.
e) South African wine is really nice. The owner of our hotel is a sommelier and as a result the bar offers the best wine selection in Zanzibar. Ideal.
f) I could actually live on papaya, mango, coconut peas (local dish) and freshly grilled fish.
Sorry again for my appalling lack of consistency when it comes to #blogmas. I hope you don't mind me doubling up on posts for the next few days. I'm a bit obsessive about this sort of thing so by the time this month ends I will have completed my quota - you can be sure of that!
So good to blog with Wi-Fi again :)