Kendwa, Zanzibar

Photo: Zuri Zanzibar Hotel & Resort

Do you dream about islands in the Indian Ocean? Of course, you do. The Maldives and the Seychelles are paradises on earth. Azure water. Palm trees. White sand. Heaven. Now you can add Zanzibar to your list.

Why is Zanzibar suddenly so appealing? Because a gorgeous new hotel, possibly the best on the island, just opened its doors last month. Zuri Zanzibar is a perfect tropical getaway. Its 32 acres face west (you’ll appreciate this as the sun sets) and are dotted with spice gardens. Sandy paths through cinnamon and cloves, black pepper and nutmeg lead to private pods. The hidden wooden decks are quiet oases to read or meditate. White bungalows with wooden terraces and thatched roofs are in the opposite direction. They have a Scandinavia-meets-Africa vibe with minimal furniture standing next to local artwork. The breathtaking beach is beyond that. Zuri, which means beautiful in Swahili, definitely lives up to its name.

Zuri Zanzibar is in Kendwa, a small village on the northwest coast. It faces little Daloni Island with larger Tumbatu Island in the distance. The resort is 30 miles from Stone Town, the maze-like historic center of both the island and the archipelago. Zanzibar is on Unguja, the largest and most populated island. While the Zanzibar Archipelago, which begins 16 miles off the eastern coast of Africa, is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania.

Photo: Zuri Zanzibar Hotel & Resort

Zanzibar, along with nearby Mafia Island, is known as the African Spice Islands. The scent of sweet-spicy cloves always lingers in the humid air. The Sultan of Oman first introduced clove trees, as well as sugar and indigo, to the islands in the late-17th century. Plantations and the slave trade flourished during Oman’s rule. The death of one sultan and the succession of another, unapproved one, made Britain intervene in 1890. Independence eventually came in 1963. It was quickly followed by the Zanzibar Revolution and the merger with Tanganyika to become present-day Tanzania.

Stone Town, spice tours, and unique animal sightings (like the Zanzibar red colobus and the Zanzibar servaline genet) are three reasons why Zanzibar—and Tanzania as a whole—is now one of the most popular destinations in Africa. The beaches might be the biggest lure to the island, though. One of the best ones happens to be right in front of you.

Most of Zanzibar’s beaches have huge tide differentials. Not so on the northwest coast. A steeper slope from Kendwa to Nungwi means the lagoon isn’t exposed and you can always go swimming. Add sunbeds and palapas on the white sand, traditional dhows slowly gliding by, and, later, that sunset for a perfect view. Then add a private jacuzzi in your ocean bungalow, fruit daiquiris by the infinity pool, and five-course dinners in the open-air Upendo Restaurant to this stunning location. Zanzibar is now dominating your dreams.

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