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Characterised by the significant tidal range across the island, Zanzibar’s coastal areas vary in feel. The meandering fishing villages and dhow-lined shores of the East Coast and the South Eastern Michamvi Peninsulas are particularly peaceful havens on this otherwise busy island. Swimming off the Eastern Coast is often restricted by far-retreating tides, but high quality lodges compensate for this with lovely swimming pools, and relatively low visitor numbers make for enticing tranquillity. The Fumba Peninsula, tucked away on the South-West coast, may not be quite as beautiful, but the beaches are less prone to tidal change. On offer here are delightful, low-key activities including swimming with dolphins, trips to the beautiful coral island of Chumbe and the ancient Jozani forest, home to the rare Colobus monkey.
Less susceptible to the tides, Northern Zanzibar offers a dynamic contrast. The area around Nungwi has become a bustling tourist hub with many hotels, myriad restaurants and an abundance of water sports. Although Nungwi’s increasing development means it may lack the untouched charm of neighbouring areas, the setting is nevertheless idyllic and excursions from the fully equipped diving centre, and to Nungwi turtle sanctuary, are among the island’s genuine highlights.For a high-end, exclusive experience, Mnemba island is located just off Zanzibar’s north-eastern tip. With simple but luxurious accommodation at Mnemba Lodge, and arguably the best beaches in Africa, this is an unpretentious but top notch retreat, albeit with a price tag to match. Some 50km further north sits the untouched island of Pemba with its handful of visitors, small number of lodges, and distinctly traditional feel. In contrast to Zanzibar’s bustling tourist trade, Pemba’s economy still relies largely on fishing and agriculture. Mangoes, cloves and seaweed are farmed here, and traditional fishing dhows are a common sight. Though diving off Pemba may be best suited to those with experience, it is second to none, with coral reefs and abundant marine life to explore. Boat trips to offshore islands are also possible.