Also known as The Spice Island, the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar sits beautifully in the Indian Ocean. It offers crystal-clear waters and blissful sunsets alongside awe-inspiring sites and adventure thrills. Our journey began at an out-of-this-world resort – The Residence Zanzibar

WHERE THE MAGIC BEGAN

Hidden amongst the swaying palm trees and close to the traditional fishing village of Kizimkazi, an area famous for its dolphin safaris, the spectacular Residence Zanzibar is set on the picturesque South West coast of the island. The 66 stand-alone villas range from the one-bedroom Garden Pool Villa to the two-bedroom Presidential Ocean Front Villa and each includes state-of-the-art entertainment systems, luxury amenities and guaranteed privacy.

Set in a lush tropical garden, our villa featured a large living room leading out to a private pool and cosy deck area. The room houses a very comfortable emperor bed and the bathroom has a gorgeous French bathtub and a beautiful back deck with an outdoor shower too.

Honestly, this place is the perfect setting to spread out and cool off. At night you can pull the curtains and leave your window open to hear the sound of the waves and the soft chirp of tree frogs that ubiquitously appear after dark. With nature all around, you can close your eyes and feel like you’re starring in your very own castaway movie – albeit, with all the comforts of a luxury resort!

It’s difficult to pin point the element we loved the most about this incredible resort. Maybe it was the stunning infinity pool which at its far end had a glass wall creating the infinity edge illusion, allowing beachcombers to peek into the underwater action. Or maybe it was the resort’s private pier which was the ideal spot to witness the daily sunset, or perhaps the private dinner on the beach with live entertainment? In reality, it was all of these things and countless more.

The Residence is also a place that ensured we never went hungry, with two world-class restaurants to get our food fix. Breakfast each day was a feast but our gastronomic highlight was its international restaurant, The Dining Room, where we celebrated our last night and had a delicious grilled lobster with a twist of local spice, absolutely delicious!

CULTURAL HERITAGE

As part of our top five things to see, Stone Town is a must-visit area where you can easily spend a day through bustling market and street food vendors. Here, the best way to get around is with a private guide where you will also visit the House of Wonders, the Slave Market, the Sultan’s Palace Museum and the Old Arab Fort. Although it is a crying shame not more has been done to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city has still a charm that you’ll find in very few places on earth.

Stone Town is a capital city with the character of Havana, and over centuries different cultures have influenced Zanzibar to become what it is today. Phoenicians, Persians, Indians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs and the British to name but a few have settled here at one time or another and added to the already vibrant local culture, creating a unique blend of Arabic, European, and African architecture and traditions. One of the best ways to observe this unique kaleidoscope of cultural heritage is from one of the rooftop terrace restaurants with unreal views of the city whilst eating authentic local food. Our highlight was the Emerson on Hurumzi which had a great atmosphere and from where it’s possible to see a Hindu temple, churches and mosques standing side by side and declaring their fraternity at prayer time!

THE ADVENTURE

We would also recommend the Safari Blue tour which can be organized through the helpful team at The Residence Zanzibar. It is a great day out on a traditional dhow boat on the Zanzibar coast which offers countless made-for-Instagram beaches, snorkelling and swimming adventures at the Kwale coral reef with an overwhelming abundance of corals and colourful fish. The tour also includes a fantastic seafood buffet comprising grilled calamari, grilled fish, slipper lobster and chicken. Our adventure highlight was the walk onto an island’s tropical forest where you can find an impressive giant 500-year-old baobab tree that 70 years ago was bowled down by a storm. You can even climb up it and get a great view from the top! It really was breathtaking.

BUCKET LIST DESTINATION

Visiting Zanzibar feeds your soul as you manage to break the routine of our modern, tech-driven lifestyles. You will reconnect with the nature, culture, people and history. You will meet locals, who carry a hard life but remain friendly, and you will have the most real interactions and experiences that will soon make you realise that we don’t actually need “things” and possessions to be happy. You will find in Zanzibar the thing that is often missing in busy Gulf life – the genuine. D

GO: Call THE RESIDENCE ZANZIBAR ON +255 24 555 5000 for reservations and more information. Follow @theresidencezanzibar on instagram for all the latest info.