|Stone Town was interesting and quaint, but we came to Zanzibar for its beaches. It was time to head north and check out these rumours of undeveloped white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters.
First stop was Nungwi, a small dhow (sailing boat) building village at the northernmost tip of Zanzibar. From here we were going to beach hop around the island, but Nungwi was so beautiful that we were still there almost three weeks later.
We'd been warned that Nungwi had become overrun with tourists in recent years and one idiot had likened it to Ibiza in a web blog. Not sure how a tiny, dusty village with 1 bar, 2 mini-markets, 3 internet cafes and a handful of restaurants can be compared to the party crazy Spanish island of Ibiza. Thankfully, it was nothing like Ibiza.
The Nungwi that we visited was quiet, with long sandy beaches and the most amazing crystal clear water. There weren't many people in town so the beaches were empty. And the sunsets were amazing, the colours in the sky were so bright and vivid. There was a bar on the beach (made out of an old sailing boat) and we got accustomed to having a 'sundowner'. We were introduced to this term by a South African couple we met Egypt, so maybe it is an African thing, but a really great idea. To have a drink whilst watching the sunset, therefore a sundowner. And you can't get a better spot than a bar on the beach.
When you celebrate your birthday in Zanzibar, it's pretty hard to find 'something special' to top just being here, but to Scott's credit he did a pretty good job of it.
Scott hired a dhow (traditional sailing boat) for an afternoon of sailing, swimming and snorkelling on the coral reef. The boys sailing the dhow cooked us a dinner of whole fish baked on hot coals and served with a dipping sauce and salad. The boys even decked out the dhow with flowers.
We sailed back to Nungwi and cast anchor in the small beach to watch the sunset whilst having a champagne sundowner. It was one of those postcard picture-perfect views that was made all the better as we were actually experiencing it!
One thing that is amazing about Zanzibar is the tidal variations. At some points on the island there can be almost two kilometers difference between high tide and low tide. At the main Nungwi beach the difference wasn't that much but you still have to plan your swims around the tide. And when going for walks along the coast you have to keep watch because if the tide comes in, you can be stranded at another beach (with an expensive taxi ride home).
BOOMA'S COOKING SCHOOL
After ten months travel, we've met a lot of people and been to some amazing beaches, but Zanzibar wins without a doubt. The Zanzibari people are so friendly and welcoming, and even the odd person who is trying to sell you a necklace or painting on the beach will leave you alone as soon as you say 'no thank you'.
At our guest house we got to know the Manager quite well. His name is Sele but we called him Booma, which was a nickname he was given when he visited Australia a few years ago. Apparently he kept showing up in the same places, so the travel staff called him Booma (AKA boomerang) as he always returned.
Booma was great fun and looked after us. He put on some traditional Zanzibarian dinners at the guest house so that we could try some local food. The food was so great, we convinced him to give us a private cooking class. We made octopus in a coconut curry and pilau rice, though we almost managed to destroy the kitchen in the process. The release value for the gas oven had been turned of, so whilst the pilau rice was baking, there was an almighty boom and a fire ball surged from the oven. It was pretty scary for a few minutes.
Booma's brother was unphased and got everything working again, but as we sat down to eat we saw him chasing something out of the kitchen - a mouse? a cat? No, it was a crab that ran straight past us and suicide dived off the balcony and into the water. It could only happen in Zanzibar...