Waking up with rotund tummies after a night of feasting at the Forodhani Gardens you would think that food was not on the agenda, but you would be mistaken. On day 2 we were already craving the Zanzibari octopus! Our lonely planet guide suggested a few good cafes and bars so we hopped to it, took to the streets and tried to find them all. Below are some of my top picks (and a cultural spot too)
1) Livingstone Beach Restaurant
Padding barefoot along the sand we found this place whilst on our way to explore the beach. Wooden tables and chairs sit tilted in the sand, jazzy tunes play to the background noise of flickering palms. From your seat you can sip a fruity smoothie whilst watching the locals swimming to and from their traditional wooden dhows (boats), cool boxes bobbing along aside them presumably full of the day’s fresh catch.
2) The Book Cafe
Attention all book worms! As if from the pages of a story itself, this little treasure trove of wonders is not to be missed. Masai Mara guards compare their beaded jewellery as they keep watch at the door to this beautiful cafe. The Zanzibar equivalent of the bookshop in You’ve Got Mail, books line the walls of the cafe, the only sounds disrupting the peace and quiet is the whir of a fan, the clink of teacups and saucers and the muffled beep of a moped’s horn on the street outside.
3) Stone Town Cafe
Nestling behind a wall of greenery is this exotic cafe. Children cycle to the cafe to meet their mothers at work, a female traveller sat for hours reading in the dappled shade whilst backpackers used it as a pit stop before heading out for a day or exploration. From our table we saw a near collision between a man selling coconuts from a basket fashioned onto his bicycle and a rusty 4×4 truck with three nuns in the cockpit. It really was the ideal people-watching spot and the best place for soaking up the local atmosphere and the buzz of the town.
4) The Zanzibar Slave Market
With just a day in Stone Town we didn’t have time to visit everything. We decided that the slave market at the Anglican cathedral was going to be a good option (most of the other sites were not open to the public so could only be viewed from the outside, or were Freddy Mercury related). The salve market promised to bring some perspective to our trip and a greater understanding of the island’s people and heritage. And what kind of holiday doesn’t include a good dose of culture?
When you arrive you get given a guide to show you round and give you a detailed history of how the island was used as a slave port. You are shown the chambers in which the slaves were kept, the tale of Livingstone, the history of the cathedral and the memorial. It would take days to explain everything and I would hate to get the details wrong so won’t go into the specifics but it is well worth a visit and a real eye-opener.
Stone Town is so small that you will be able to see most of it in just one day. We were worried that we hadn’t left enough time to see everything but there was no need to panic. Like with the night market it is likely that you will be pestered when walking around the town- people will want you to take their taxi rides and use them as tour guides (fake ID cards and all). It is definitely possible to find your way round by yourself if you have a map or guide book so don’t feel pressured into using a guide.
What to wear in Stone Town? Now this is a contentious topic and everyone seems to have different ideas about what it is safe to wear. With a predominantly muslim population it is necessary to respect their customs and cultures and therefore cover up. Short sleeves and long trousers were fine for me although we did see some women in strappy summer dresses who seemed to have no bother either. I would err on the side of caution but bare arms are probably okay. If you visit during Ramadan it is perhaps more important to cover up. If in doubt, ask the staff at your hotel….they know best.
With Stone Town wrapped up, it was time to head East and see what the Indian Ocean had to offer. Follow A Stylish Review on Facebook, Bloglovin or WordPress using the social media buttons so you don’t miss out!