Hakuna Matata in Zanzibar, Tanzania
It was 8:00 p.m. and we were sitting in the dimly-lit dining area of Karibu Restaurant, "The place where you eat until you say "Hassan! Please don't kill me with delicious food!"" (direct quote from his restaurant sign). We had lofty expectations, reinforced by another sign in the dining room, which warned that "The food is good and delicious. That may cause you forget your satiety. So you will become over-full and hence you will be a fool. Take care." Lest we take his sign too seriously, he concludes with "Joke", which made me LOL.
Earlier in the day, we had wandered past Hassan's restaurant in search of beer and coconut bread. He lured us in with his booming personality and a promise to serve fresh-caught octopus. I am pretty sure that we watched our octopus being pounded in the sand in front of Melik's Hotel just a few hours prior to our dinner reservation. That's the secret to soft, melt-in-the-mouth octopus - a hearty sand pounding, followed by a long boil. Hassan's octopus in tomato sauce was plentiful and delicious! He also served a generous amount of rice, an eggplant dish, and perfectly-browned chapati with vegetables baked into the dough. It was far too much for three people and we enjoyed every bite.
That's the vibe in Jambiani Beach in Tanzania. The people are generous, quick to smile, genuinely concerned with others' well-being and happiness. Walking through Jambiani, little children grab your hand and escort you, giggling. Fishermen wave from their dhow boats, calling out "jambo!" Women in brightly colored tunics gather seaweed, balancing their loads on their heads. Kids play in the streets until late in the evening. Truly, "hakuna matata", no worries, in this beach town on the east coast of Zanzibar.
Facing the east, early risers are greeted by the sun and gentle waves lapping the shoreline. By late morning, the ocean on this side of the island recedes about a mile into the horizon, leaving shallow pools in the white sand, populated by wiggling sea urchins. A steady breeze blows, ideal for kite surfing.
All the action is in Stone Town, about a 45 minute drive on the opposite side of the island. Today, Stone Town is known for its vibrant spice markets and lively nightly seafood festival. A couple of hundred years ago, however, it was the largest slave-trading market in East Africa. Most of the slaves were sold to Arabian countries and India. A Catholic church and a Muslim mosque now share the grounds of the old slave market.
Zanzibar was the perfect island retreat to relax and recuperate after hiking Kilimanjaro and spending a few nights safari camping. We really enjoyed Jambiani beach because it was quiet, secluded and peaceful. If you are seeking nightlife, Stone Town might be a better option and if you enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving, you'll want to head to the northern beaches.
Love exotic places with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters? Put Zanzibar on your bucket list! Do you have any recommendations for off-the-beaten-path beaches we should explore in the future? Leave us a comment or tag us with your suggestion on social media!