Luxury Zanzibar Holiday
Zanzibar does luxury supremely well. From treetop suites to private islands, and all manner of barefoot bliss in between. There are world-class hotels and resorts across the archipelago including some welcome new additions in Stone Town. But although a few days in Stone Town are essential to any holiday in Zanzibar, it’s the stunning beach-side boutiques and intimate island escapes that set these East African spice isles apart.
The most exclusive beach resorts are on Michamvi Peninsula, Ras Kizimkazi, Mafia and Pemba Islands. You’ll find superb luxury hotels along all the major beaches, but these four regions have many of the best. That is to say, these four plus a few spectacular tiny islets. For the ultimate tropical island experience, why not a luxury atoll for a week?
There’s wonder and beauty all across Zanzibar, but at the best luxury lodges you’ll feel you have it all to yourself. Most are tucked away on secluded, if not private, beaches, or on small, pristine islands where there really is no one else. Enjoy exclusive snorkelling reefs, private dhow cruises and candlelit dinners with your toes in the sand; or spend the night in a houseboat with an underwater bedroom, a baobab treehouse or a glorious Robinson-Crusoe-styled beach villa. Exceptional levels of personal service are very much the norm on Zanzibar. That’s especially true of the smaller luxury boutiques which only host a few guests at a time.
One of the downsides of being small and exclusive is that bookings must be made quite far in advance. The high season runs from July to October, with a spike again from January to March. During these times, it can be hard to find availability, especially if you’re looking for a longer stay. Longer stays, however, often mean substantial discounts (up to a third off for bookings of a week or more).
Combo beach and safari holidays are also very popular and a number of resorts have sister lodges on mainland Tanzania. These often offer excellent all-inclusive deals, covering the full Big Five African safari experience, flight transfers and kicking back on the beach.
Cards are usually accepted for extra activities or excursions, but it’s a good idea to carry some US dollars in cash to cover any sundries and tips. Visas can be acquired at the airport on arrival, but get them in advance and you’ll avoid the queues. Flight transfers may or may not be included in your package – something to keep in mind as returns to Mafia or Pemba can add $300 to the bill. The flights, however, are a highlight in themselves and a wonderful opportunity to see the azure archipelago from the air.