In this week’s photo essay, Nasrin Suleiman introduces us to the stunning beauty of Zanzibar and shares her top five recommendations for things to do, eat and see on the island. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jambo! My name is Nasrin Suleiman. I was born in Zanzibar and spent most of my childhood here until I moved out to North America for studies. I am a graphic designer with a passion for photography, traveling and scuba diving. At the moment, I’m currently back in my hometown and I have been exploring every corner of this island. It has brought me so much joy and I have created so many new, fond memories.

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

What do you love most about Zanzibar?

Zanzibar is made up of numerous archipelagos just off the coast of Tanzania, in East Africa. The main island is called Unguja (Zanzibar) and the second largest is Pemba. Here, there is beauty all around. From the heritage Stone Town, to the forests, to the villages, to the white sandy beaches, and the Indian Ocean; you can always find something to explore and fulfill your sense of adventure. Zanzibar also has a laid back atmosphere, which I love! I always feel relaxed when I’m here. The food is pretty fantastic, too. There’s fresh fruit and good seafood all around. In a nutshell, Zanzibar is paradise!

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

What recommendations do you have for those wanting to visit?

Zanzibar is a traveler’s dream! There’s so much to see and do. My top five recommendations would be:

Roam around Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Zanzibar used to be one of the largest slave markets in East Africa and the history can be seen and felt in the area. Walk through the narrow streets, now lined with shops and unique housing structures. Stop to talk to the local artists who are there to sell their wares.

Stone-Town-Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Visit Forodhani Garden for a taste of Zanzibar’s local cuisine. There, you’ll find fresh seafood including lobster, crab, shrimp, fish, octopus, and squid. You can also order mishkaki (barbeque meat or chicken on a stick) or mbatata ya urojo, a famous Zanzibar mix of potatoes, mishaki, and fried cassava chips. Finally, be sure to try the sugar cane juice.

Besides all the food, Forodhani Garden also offers a beautiful view of the sunset with dhow boats passing by. You will be entertained by the divers or, as I like to call them, “the sunset jumpers”: local kids who spend their evenings doing flips into the ocean.

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Enjoy the white-sand beaches and all the activities they have to offer, including fishing excursions, snorkeling and scuba diving. The crystal clear waters are home to an abundance of marine life and colorful reefs.

My three favorite beaches are Paje (known for kite surfing), Kizimkazi (you can swim with the dolphins and may even spot migrating humpback and sperm whales between the months of August and September) and Nungwi (known for the Marine Sea Turtle Conservation Pond and for parasailing).

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Explore Jozani Forest, the only natural forest on Zanzibar Island and the home of the last remaining sanctuary in the world for the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey. Other animals that inhabit the forest include bush pigs, sea turtles, antelopes, elephant shrews, and a dozen species of butterflies.

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Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Visit Chumbee and Prison Islands, the most popular spots for day trips from Stone Town. Both provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling, have rich histories to learn about, and offer footpath nature trails where you can walk and observe the animals that call the land home.

Stone-Town-Zanzibar-Nasrin-SuleimanShould travelers anticipate any challenges when going to Zanzibar?

The biggest and perhaps only challenge would be choosing the proper tour. Be sure to use licensed guides and not “beach boys”, locals who try to sell tours to tourists on the beach. It is not bad to support the locals, but some aren’t trustworthy and you may fall victim to overcharged offers.

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Zanzibar-Nasrin-Suleiman

Do you have any upcoming travel plans of your own?

If all goes well I plan on traveling to three countries in the following year: Zambia, South Africa and Morocco. Though I have been to Zambia before, I never tire of the exhilarating wildlife safari. Morocco and South Africa will be new destination for me and I am very excited!

  • Nicole

    Beautiful photographs!

    • Nasrin

      Thank you Nicole!

  • Elliot

    Thanks so much for introducing us to Zanzibar, Nasrin!

    • Nasrin

      It’s my pleasure to be able to introduce you to my hometown. I also hope you get the opportunity to explore Zanzibar in the near future.

  • Lee

    Amazing as always Nasrin! Zanzibar is without a doubt my favorite travel location and experience.

    • Nasrin

      Thanks dear, you are always so kind! I hope you get another chance to explore and experience the simplicity of the Zanzibari lifestyle. Karibu!

  • Adi

    Love love love the colours in the photographs! The blues of the water, the brighter tones in the street scenes. Just stunning! Need to get myself to Zanzibar!

  • John

    The images in this article are beautiful. The feeling and vibrancy of the place comes through so clearly, I want to visit!

    • Nasrin Suleiman

      Thank you so much! I truly appreciate the compliment. Karibu (welcome) to Zanzibar anytime!

  • yoosef

    Nasrin I really enjoyed these pictures. I also live in an island (Puerto Rico). The very natural and ture nature Combined with simplicity of your photos are geart. Best wishes.

  • I found Nasrin on Instagram and asked her for recommendations. She was graceful enough to give me a step by step directory and things-to-do guide and best places to eat etc. Nasrin is amazing and looking forward to meeting her to thank her for her insight and help!