Exiting from our flight on to the tarmac, the warm sun hits you immediately. The breeze is the kind that only an island can give you.
The airport is the size of a small plaza and we jet through customs and meet our Holiday Factory appointed guide and driver. The Park Hyatt too was a quick trip, but one which took us through colonial time architecture and a mix of people with roots in Africa, the Middle East, and India (all co-existing together).
We reached around noon to the beautiful, white hotel built like a bungalow; and placed perfectly at the coast. It’s a relatively new hotel and a lot of care was paid into giving it a boutique-resort element.
The standard room was massive and opened out to views over Stone Town and the beach alongside. We were on a mission to explore and started the adventure without any pause. Map in hand.
As soon as you step out of the hotel, take a left and walk down Shangani street to hit the key tourist spots. Here you have two options: take a left, and walk right by the coast/ public beach and the House of Wonders; or take a right, and find your way through the endless alleys of Stone Town.
Cautionary note: this is pretty much the centre point of where most tourists in Stone Town start their journey. You’ll find a lot of locals trying to make an extra buck off you. Then again, if you’re in the mood to make a Tanzanite investment (like meeeeeeee!), stop by any of the stores on that lane. The stones are of a good quality, well priced, and negotiable.
So, hubby believes that the rain follows me where ever we go. The rains started twenty minutes in to our walk and there started our off and on journey with a mini flood. We were on a mission with no plan to take our keds off. We pretty much touched every possible alley, rooftop and hidden spot in Stone Town.
Here is our list of top 10 things to do:
- Lunch at the House of Spices. The seafood pizza is one of the most unique dishes and a must try!
- The Shivshakti Hindu Temple hidden behind three sets of gates. It’s another great way to see the way all these religions come together in Stone Town with mosques, madrasas, churches – all adjacent to each other.
- Hurumzini Movie Cafe: It’s a cosy room with a projector screen showing a movie of your choice from 11am – 4pm and a set list from 5-7pm.
- LUKMAAN !! Go here for traditional Zanzibarian biryani and meat curry. Tourists and locals all flock here, line up and grab seats wherever they can. Do be careful though – this isn’t for the faint of heart, go in knowing that there is a solid chance of Delhi belly.
- Christ Church Cathedral: It was heartbreaking to see the conditions of slaves and hear the stories of the trade and lives led by the women and children. This monument captures a very important time in history and the sights are recommended to all.
- The rooftop at Emerson on Hurumzi offers teas, cocktails and a panoramic view of the island and Stone Town below. The staff and manager have Omani roots.
- Hit Mrembo Spa to take a break from the trek, food, and coffee for a quick massage. They have a retail area and accept card!
- Taperia: Apart from being a hidden gem (It’s on the top floor of the post office) with great wines, live music, and cards, we had a life changing experience when a local band did an entire rendition of ‘Papa Kehte Hai’ – an old bollywood song.
- Take a day trip to Prisoner’s island. Feeding the turtles, snorkelling, and being a half hour in to sea is a thing of beauty.
- Make sure you take a step back, slow down, and realise the subtle beauty of where you are. The doors are extravagant. The architecture has roots from all over the world. And at any given turn, you have four very different communities all mixing together in an old (almost forgotten) way of life.
Apart from Stone Town and the island visit, we must say an entire day was spent pool side at the Park Hyatt. It’s a beautiful property, and though we only did so because hubby was sick, we had a great time as is.