Like I said in my previous post, Kendwa isn’t the only beach we explored in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Our next stop was Jambiani beach, which is definitely my favourite seaside village on the island, and the place to be if you are looking for a mix of relaxation and fun activities. Jambiani looked like the perfect place for both backpackers and people travelling on a budget, and people who just want to enjoy a luxury holiday!
One of the reasons why I liked Jambiani beach so much is because you won’t find as many tourists as in Kendwa or all the other popular spots in Zanzibar, and so you will be able to get a glimpse into the local life and culture.
As many beaches on the east side of Zanzibar, during some hours of the day there will be a low tide, which is perfect to enjoy a walk along the white sand beach and to see kids playing and local people working in the seaweed farms. During the high tide, instead, you can just go for a swim!
Keep reading if you want a few tips on what to see and do in Jambiani, where to stay and how to get there.
Things to see and do in Jambiani
- Don’t feel guilty about enjoying the sun and the sea
- Take a trip to the Kuza Cave
- Take a trip to the Rock Restaurant
- Play Bao and interact with local people
- Stay at Mamamapambo Hotel
- Enjoy the happy our at the Blue Reef Sports and Finishing lodge
- Go kite-surfing or snorkelling
The laid-back vibe around this place, makes Jambiani the perfect spot to relax. Don’t feel guilty about enjoying this paradise once you are here: I’m always looking for activities to do when I travel, because I want to make sure I don’t miss out on anything when I’m in a new place. However, relaxing and living your life pole pole, as the locals would say, is part of the experience. Spend time on your sunbed (or in the shadow), read a book, listen to music and go for a swim.
The only downside of this place is that, because of the seaweed farming just on the shore, the water isn’t very clear and I didn’t like the feeling of random things touching my legs while I was swimming!
On the other hand, watching local people enjoying the beach during the low tide hours of the day was one of my favourite things to do. I could spend hours watching women in beautiful dresses collecting seaweed from the shore, kids playing outside shouting “Jambo!” at everybody and fishermen getting their boats ready. It was such a unique and beautiful experience.
One of the highlights of Jambiani for me was the trip to the Kuza Cave. We haven’t met anybody that knew about this place, which was great, as we got the place all to ourselves. One day, as we were walking in Jambiani, we saw a sign that said Kuza Cave Cultural Centre, so we asked the people working in our hotel about it and they said it was just a 20 minute walk away from the hotel….so we decided to take the trip.
I loved this place so much and the projects they run there are very interesting, so I will have separate post to talk about it.
I talked before of how I thought that Zanzibar is a real food paradise, but one place that really stole my heart when it comes to food is the Rock Restaurant. A few km away from Jambiani, there is this cute little restaurant on a rock in the middle of the sea. You can reach it by boat in case of high tide or just walk there when there’s low tide. The food I was served was one of my favourite meals ever. From starters to the desserts, everything tastes so fresh and delicious. Prices were a bit higher compared to other places in Zanzibar, but 100% worth a visit.
In addition to the delicious food, there are so many things I liked about this restaurant. Located on an actual rock in the water of the Indian Ocean, with big windows all around and a cute terrace in the front, this place is a unique setting for a one of a kind dinner or lunch.
I also discovered that the Rock restaurant established the Kichanga Foundation to assist in the development of local people and preserve the environment, which today is supported by other local businesses too. Projects supported by this foundation include empowerment through sustainable actions, teaching local community members how to swim, collection, sorting and recycling of waste, and much more.
If you are planning to visit this place, I would suggest you book it at least the day before. A taxi from Jambiani will be approximately $20 per person, or $15 for groups with at least 5 people.
One of the best things about being in Jambiani for me was that, despite all the tourists, you will still be able to interact with local people, that will make you feel part of the culture. Every day, we were out on the beach, and you can always see tourist and local people play Bao together, train on the beach, or just talk. Isn’t it great?
Bao is a traditional mancala board game played in most of East Africa including Tanzania. The name “Bao” is the Swahili word for “board” or “board game” and in Tanzania and Zanziabr in particular, people take it very seriously. The rules are very complicated to understand at the start, but it’s a very addictive game once you get into it. Also, local people love playing against tourist, as they are guaranteed to win!
In Jambiani, we stayed at Mamamapambo Hotel. There were so many things I liked about this place! First, there are only 6 rooms in total, so it really is the perfect place to relax at any time of the day.
We went for the sea view room on the ground floor. The room was huge and clean and the bed was so comfortable. Breakfast was the best I had in Zanzibar, with lots of delicious fruit, juices and a choice of eggs with different sides or granola bowls and a daily special. The best part of this place, however, is the staff! They are all so nice and make you feel like at home, so when we left I was sad to say goodbye to all of them. Finally the place is in a very nice location, a 15 minute walk from the main concentration of hotels on the beach (so a little bit away from all the people) and 15/20 minutes walk to Cuza Cave.
A great way to spend your afternoon is to go to the Blue Reef Sports and Finishing lodge for their Happy Hour from 5pm to 7pm. It’s the only place in Jambiani that has a happy hour every day of the week, and not just the weekend. Their outside area has a great view of the Ocean and there is great music playing all day!
The staff is very friendly too and it is the perfect place for backpackers and solo travellers to meet other people. The only downside of this place is that they had only one vegetarian option on their food menu – bread with tomatoes.
Finally, all hotels and tour companies in Jambiani offer promotions for water sports activities, snorkelling tours and the very popular kite-surfing. We didn’t do one as we had already done some of these in Kendwa and we wanted to be tested and ready for the next chapter of our trip: the safari through the national parks of the North.
How to get to Jambiani
The best way to get to Jambiani Beach is by taxi. You can book it directly through your hotel or hostel and they will arrange the best option for you. It will cost approximately $40 or $50 from Stone Town and $50 to $60 from Kendwa or any other beach in the North.
While there is no official public transport on Zanzibar local people use dala dala, open air trucks with seats that are very crowded but very cheap, or mini-buses. If you feel adventurous enough you could try one of these options, however, car accidents are very frequents on these roads and the roads are always asphalted, so, if like me you suffer from motion sickness, a taxi is the safest option for you.
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