Zanzibar, the spice island, beautiful turquoise beaches, tides that go out for miles, luxury resorts and backpacker shacks, mosques, beautiful architecture, dolphins, full moon parties, Swahili culture, Maasai culture, kite surfing and laid back chill.
We have just returned from Zanzibar (feb 2017) for 1 week. Zanzibar is the place to relax and unwind, it has the most amazing white beaches and tides that go out for miles. A great trip and a destination we would love to return to.
I was intrigued to travel to Zanzibar after seeing some amazing pictures on Pinterest of beautiful beaches and this cool restaurant in the ocean and the fact that I found some super cheap flights on Skyscanner!
We travelled to Zanzibar with Etihad airways with a stopover in Abu Dhabi for one night then the next morning on to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and then finally onto Zanzibar with Precision Air. Travelling with Etihad pretty comfortable. We booked this trip quite late and didn’t manage to get our usual exit seats (boo hoo) and with me and my partner both being over 6ft tall I always get very uncomfortable if I can’t fit my legs in. However Etihad was quite spacious and I wasn’t too claustrophobic. We pre booked our kids meals which were good (much better than our meals) and Mason was really happy with the kids pack he received. The selection of kids movies and games were good too. He stayed awake the whole flight and didn’t stop talking arghhh and I had to keep reminding him not to kick the chair in front and keep playing with the tray table (sorry to the person in front) but overall he did pretty good.
Our Precision Air flight the next day was delayed by 3 hours and no one knew what was going on! It was all very confusing. The seating is open and it’s not comfortable but the flight is so short it doesn’t matter.
Mason was a bit grumpy by this point.I think we all just wanted to get there now!
Abu Dhabi – stopover 12 hours at night
Ok the plan was for Mason to sleep on the plane here but he didn’t but we still decided to go out.
I had already pre booked our hotel for our stopover. I choose the Premier Inn right at the airport so we could either go to sleep or go out. We had to be quick about it because we didn’t have too long. My plan was to go to out somewhere further but after I saw the expensive taxi prices I changed my mind. Before I left the UK I downloaded the Careem app which is basically like Uber (as there is no Uber in Abu Dhabi). So I booked via Careem and we went out for dinner at Yas Island. Yas Island at 10pm was party time here and everyone was dressed up to go out and party. We were just looking around and found this cool water fountain to take a few pictures which Mason loved. Then we found a rooftop terrace restaurant called Diabilt (which was ok) to eat and look over the marina and see the planes flying overhead.
We stayed at Smiles Beach Resort in Nungwi in Zanzibar. This hotel is a lovely and petite B&B with only 16 rooms in a traditional style. It has a nice warm swimming pool and the hotel is right next to an amazing beach and right in the middle of plenty of restaurants. We chose something quite basic so there was nothing for Mason to do except to go to the pool and the beach but he was more than happy with that. We had a lovely ground floor room which was great as I could sit on the terrace and watch Mason play right in front with the sand. Smiles is very quiet and laid back. In contrast the Hilton is right next door and you can hear the shows each night and this place has a completely different atmosphere. We ate here on Valentines night and had an amazing meal but I loved the laid-back atmosphere at Smiles.
The grounds are kept super clean and are just gorgeous.
Masons favourite person at Smiles was this Maasai guy. He was super cool and always had time for Mason. All the staff were great with Mason and the resort had a real family friendly vibe.
Things to do in Zanzibar with a 5 year old
This was my itinerary of things to do with Mason whilst we here. Unfortunately we didn’t get to do all of these things so one day we will come back!
- Stone Town & Prison Island — shopping – snorkelling & giant tortoises
- Nakupenda Beach
- Jozani National Park — Red Colobus Monkeys & Mangrove Swamps
- The Rock Restaurant — cool restaurant in the ocean
- Swim with or spot the Dolphins
- Menemba Island
- Turtle Conservation Project
So it’s pretty easy to book these trips. You can book them online on Trip Advisor or just walk on the beach for 30 seconds and a beach boy (beach vendors) will try to sell you a million trips or things to buy. It gets a bit annoying as some beach boys are really persistent but we had no troubles as they say in Swahili “Hakuna Matata” and we found a nice guy to do some trips with. We did see some tourists walking with their own personal Maasai warrior guys to tell the beach boys to go away! Some trips are better to do from Stone Town as they are much closer. I would recommend staying in Stone Town for a few nights then somewhere else. I think mine and Mason’s favourite trip had to be the Monkey’s and we all enjoyed eating at the Rock restaurant. We all enjoyed snorkelling, the water is so warm! However the magic of Zanzibar was really its beaches!!! The beach was so amazing and it was nice to see the locals working the beach, the boats, the children and the tides going out as far as you can see. There wasn’t many tourist children in Zanzibar whilst we were there that Mason could play with however the local children started playing with Mason on the beach one day and he loved it and they all played football together.
- Wear sun cream !!! I know that’s an obvious one but I actually got pretty burnt on my arm as I didn’t feel the heat as there was a nice breeze.
- Use a mosquito net. We had no problems with mosquitos at all but one night I fell asleep without putting the net and I got 1 bite! Our resort had brilliant mosquito nets.
- Take malaria tablets 1/2 days before you got to Zanzibar.
- Change your money in Stone Town. Use US dollars (for trips) or local money.
- Haggle trips with the beach boys.
- Take a child life jacket because they won’t have any. We use the Zoggs Green swim jacket for Mason.
- Bring a football.
- Wear a scarf for protection from the heat and cover up when in town.
- Visa on arrival is $50, however if you are from one of these countries (immigration.go.tz) or have dual nationality like my partner you can avoid the fee! Yay!! However they don’t seem to know this and had to look up which countries were exempt. Be prepared to wait for your visa at the airport.
- Learn and speak some Swahili! Jamb0!!
- Jambo and Mambo are both hello!
- Everyone says Hakuna Matata – (no worries)
- Everyone loves football and will ask what team you support
- Our driver paid off lots of police at checkpoints wth a handshake containing 100TZS (36p) as he said it was easy to avoid being questioned?????
- Do not sit under a coconut tree I saw a coconut fall out of the tallest tree and just miss the cleaner
- Most of the tourists are Italian!