Things to Do in the South Zanzibar in One Day
Zanzibar is known for its pristine white beaches all around the island, but if you have only one day: check out the Southern part of Unguja Island in Zanzibar.
Start Early Morning With the Dolphins in Kizimkazi Village
Start the day in Kizimkazi, where every early mornings the dolphin tours are offered by one of the many captains. A standard boat rental should be around 50,000 TSH and will take you out towards the sea where you can see dolphins within their natural habitat. If you are lucky, you can jump into the turquoise blue waters and swim with these beautiful creatures. Should you be concerned about the welfare of the animals, have a chat with the captain or visit the Dolphin Conservation project to learn more about responsible dolphin tours. Before leaving Kizimkazi, make sure to stop at the oldest mosque in East Africa.
Explore Off the Beaten Track in Makunduchi and Mtende
Continue eastwards, and before heading to Makunduchi, take a right turn to Mtende. You can take a stroll through the village largely untouched by tourism development but full of orange trees, or continue straight on to the end of the village where the tarmac road becomes an African-massage-road (you need a good 4×4 car) and follow for a couple of kilometers until you reach the abandoned eco resort which has been built on a bay many years ago and abandoned after few time of operation.
You will only see the odd fisherman while you wander in and out the deserted bungalows and restaurant area or walk down the pier that is slowly falling apart. The peace and serenity of the place shows you a different perspective and atmosphere of what you would usually encounter on the beaches of Zanzibar.
Visit Mwaka Kogwa Festival in Makunduchi
Should you be so lucky that your 24 hours in South Zanzibar fall into July, make sure you are in Makunduchi when the Mwaka Kogwa festival takes place – a traditional celebration of the Persian new year, this local festival offers an abundance of colours and cheerful noise as men beat each other with banana leaves to sort out any disputes in the previous year and start afresh, while women run around chanting either encouraging or rather saucy songs (make sure you bring a local translator with you!). The day festivities end with the fire that signals the start of the new year and in the evening, the local youth comes together for the disco.
Explore Caves and Local Life in Jambiani
Just before you come to Jambiani, take a left turn into the bushland and find your way to Kuumbi Caves, a collection of caves that have shown evidence of human settlement a long time ago and which are nowadays used for worshipping or meeting point of locals.
A walk through the village of Jambiani is worth when you continue further North – this village stretches along the beach for more than 6km and has kept a lot of its fishing village farm. The beach is full of locals with the men going out on local ngalawa boats for fishing, the women collecting seaweed and children helping their parents by looking for shells to eat in the sand. There are plenty of small beach restaurants to taste some Swahili seafood cuisine – just make sure to have enough time or to pre-order, waiting times in these restaurants can be up to 2 hours, so plan accordingly.
Snorkeling and Sunset in Michamvi
In Michamvi, head to the beach to have a look at the world famous restaurant The Rock – as the name suggests, a restaurant perched on a rock in the sea. The prices are not for the faint-hearted, but the scenery makes it worth a visit.
If you have a couple of hours, go snorkeling in the nearby Blue Lagoon – its amount of tropical fish and snorkeling quality competes with other famous spots like Mnemba Island and Chumbe Island.
If the sun starts going down, it is a must to visit Michamvi Kae – the powdery sand of the beach is out of this world, so grab a beer at Kae Funk, the coolest bar in Zanzibar, walk to the beach and enjoy the sunset. Sunset on the East coast? Yes, it is possible as this beach faces West but is still on the South East coast.
Eat, Drink and Party on Paje Beach
For dinner and night time entertainment, head back South to Paje which has become the hotspot for kiters and surfers. Both hotels and local restaurants offer a lot of choice for eating for every budget – if you need a bit of luxury, head to the beach side and check out the mix of international and Swahili cuisine offered in the beach restaurants or bigger hotels. If you want a bit of local scene, hang out at one of the many small kiosks on the main road which offer the well-known ‘chipsi mayai’ (French fries in omelette) or ‘mishkaki’ (beef or chicken skewers).
There are good parties happening almost every night along the South East coast. The most popular ones are the reggae party at Demani Lodge between Paje and Jambiani or the biggest beach party every Friday at Jambo Beach Bungalows in Paje. Local bars can also be found on the other side of the main road, the most popular being Vuvuzela every Sunday.
Read also: Backpacking Guide o Zanzibar
Written by: Sine Heitmann – Expat in Zanzibar for 5 years. Married to Zanzibari, mom to little daughter. Living and working on the South East Coast of Zanzibar, finds it fab.