Zanzibar is a part of Tanzania, East Africa.
If Zanzibar had an autograph book it would list an amazing list of a "who's who" that have been here before you. This is a land of Marco Polo (the totally famous explorer) and Freddie Mercury (the totally iconic singer of Queen).
The only difference? Marco Polo came here for the country's rich spices for trade, Freddie Mercury was actually born here.
You too can follow in Mr. Polo's and Mercury's footsteps once you've arrived on this slice of island heaven in the Indian Ocean. Technically, it belongs to Tanzania but has been semi-autonomous for quite some time.
They do have their own visa and vaccination requirements--and it's best to check with the consulate for the most uptodate information. You will, of course, need a passport--but some citizens are able to get visas before departing some other African airports like Dar es Salaam.
Marco might've come for the spices, but many of folks coming to Zanzibar today are here for the most exquisite diving sites in the world. As if that's not enough, you can do just about anything and every in or around the water that's humanly possible. Make sure you've given yourself plenty of time to try kayaking, deep sea fishing, windsurfing, and waterskiing.
Snorkeling is also on the activity menu, and Prison Island is said to be one of the best places to do it. The coral reefs and marine national parks around the archipelago of Zanzibar really are legendary.
Pembra is also great for diving, a nature area that's less touristy. Great if you want the beach and water all to yourself. With Zanzibar's weather averaging year-round in the 80s, the water's perfect for just about everyone.
And as this is the former haunt of Marco Polo, Zanzibar is quite historical. Stone Town is a UNESCO site of winding alleys and bazaars. A total labyrinth leading from shops to mosques.
FYI--Zanzibarians are way too polite not to shoo you away from any of the island's 51 mosques. Etiquette on the island is not to visit any of them if you aren't Muslim.
Take the time instead to look for all 560 carved doors, a long gone tradition of a family's status by way of its ornately carved entryways.
Another no-no is no collecting shells while you're out diving. The balance of the eco-system is delicate, so what you pull off could endanger the life of the reef for those who come after you.
What is plucked from the sea by professionals often winds up on your plate. Zanzibar is one of the best places for the freshest seafood, and where chefs make the most of the plentiful lobsters, crab, and prawns.
Food and festivals go hand-in-hand. One of the biggest festivals is the Zanzibar Culture Festival at the end of July. There's everything from canoe races to bull fighting, music, dance, and stunning arts & crafts.
In early November Zanibar hosts the International Triathlon and Marathon, where some of Europe and Africa's best athletes compete.
After all this activity sometimes its just best to relax. Take a sunset cruise, or just chill out at your rented cottage or at the 5-star luxury resorts on the island.
With any luck you'll run into someone famous, getting them to sign your autograph book.
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