November, 24 2018 ♥♥♥
 serena hotel stone town zanzibar

Entrance of Zanzibar Serena Hotel in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Part 4 of our East African adventure continued from exploring Tarangire National Park, to milking cows in Ngornogoro Crater, to witnessing the great migration in the Serengeti, to finally shrugging off our muddy desert boots to slipping on our flip flops at the tropical oasis of Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Day 1: The magic of Stone Town

Stay: Zanzibar Serena Hotel

 serena hotel stone town zanzibar

View from Zanzibar Serena Hotel, our home for the first 2 nights.

After a quick 2 hour flight from the desert in Serengeti,  we found ourselves stepping off the plane and hit with a warm tropical breeze enveloping us with open arms. Welcome to Zanzibar it said!

The airport was small and easy to navigate. (Tip: If you have priority pass cards, they will escort you into a VIP lounge and handle all your paperwork, luggage, and get you a driver while you sip on a cocktail and immediately get into full on vacay mode).

 serena hotel stone town zanzibar

Our balcony of our suite at Zanzibar Serena Hotel.

Our driver set off on the 20-ish minute ride into Stone Town where we would be spending the first 2 nights on the island. Peering out the window, we saw women dressed with vibrant colorful hijab’s around their heads, men on scooters zipping along the road, and so many lush palm trees. The vibe was buzzy and so was I!

Stone Town Zanzibar

Off to explore the town!

After we settled into the superbly located Zanzibar Serena Hotel, we explored the hotel grounds admiring the Moroccan interior design. Everywhere we turned there were embroidered pillows scattered on benches, rich dark tapestries hanging from walls, natural wood carvings placed on turkish style rugs. Outside on the terraces, a colonial feel took over- I just love that mix of Old English style and African vibes. In the background the sounds of prayer filled the air as an exotic soundtrack to the beginning of our island adventure.

Stone Town Zanzibar

Near the serene pool laid a white sand private beach with WARM ocean water. Can I repeat WARM?!  A tropical rooftop bar overlooked the sea. Guests milled about with fun cocktails in hand wearing long breezy kaftans (well at least the women were). It was perfection. We ooohhh and ahhhed a bit and then took off into the 5 minute walk to the heart of Stone Town.

Stone Town Zanzibar

Dave with a Dhow- a lateen rigged ship that you’ll see scattered all over Zanzibar sea areas. You can even take one out with a driver for the day.

Stone Town Zanzibar

Merchants getting market ready in the narrow alleyways of Stone Town.

Stone Town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Imagine faded grandeur and old world charm sprinkled on stone streets. We spent the afternoon getting lost in the narrow alleyways, visiting marketplaces, and browsing galleries.

Stone Town Zanzibar

Old buildings with so much character are homes to so many beautiful cafes.

Serena Hotel Stone Town Zanzibar

Date night look ;)

The tea house zanzibar

Dinner at the Tea House rooftop restaurant at the Emerson hotel in Stone Town. The rooftop sunset setting simply cannot be beat. A MUST SEE in Zanzibar.

The tea house zanzibar

A great way to observe Swahili culture with both live music and native food. The setting is stunning, and makes up for the food which we found to be okay/not bad.

The tea house zanzibar

A 5- course meal after a 6pm sundowner for $40 per person is a pretty fab deal though.

The tea house zanzibar

Can’t. Deal. So beautiful!!

Day 2: I Love Stone Town

Stay: Zanzibar Serena Hotel

Serena Hotel Stone Town Zanzibar

Breakfast at our hotel always included fresh coconut water and the sound of the ocean breaking right below us.

Stone Town Zanzibar coffee

Coffee stop at Zanzibar Coffee House in the heart of Stone Town. Excellent coffee and we met some fun newlyweds as well as a girl who got married in Hvar too! Such a small world. Turns out her aunt-in-law owns my favorite interior store in Cape Town!

Stone Town Zanzibar Lukmaan

Lunch at Lukmaan: known to be one of the best local Zanzibari restaurants with local prices too.

Stone Town Zanzibar
Stone Town Zanzibar

Spice shopping at Darjani Market. I still use the spices I bought 5 months later!

Stone Town Zanzibar

Can NEVER have too many baskets.

Stone Town Zanzibar
Stone Town Zanzibar

Last night in Stone Town- we had drinks at Livingstone Restaurant right on the beach. A perfect way to watch the sunset and complete our Stone Town adventure.

Stone Town Zanzibar

Day 3: From Stone Town to Beach Town

Stay: La Gemma Del Est

La Gemma Hotel Beach Zanzibar

Taking in the view from the hotel bar.

For our last night in Zanzibar, we figured we should check out the beach scene that Zanzibar is so famous for. We tend to lean towards city/town exploring over beach life so that’s why we chose to do just 1 night on the beach. It was a nice balance to the lively high energy of Stone Town, and great for just one night. Otherwise, I’d go a little stir crazy :).

La Gemma Hotel Beach Zanzibar

The gorgeous view from one of the many restaurants at La Gemma Del Est.

We stayed at La Gemma Del Est located on the northern-west tip of the island, about a 1.5 hour drive from Stone Town. The hotel was absolutely beautiful, and both the service and food were fantastic. It was an all-inclusive so the quality was good considering, but as with all of these large hotels, it lacks a bit of character and soul. But it was lovely to exprience the private beach access they had and we definitely enjoyed it!

La Gemma Hotel Beach Zanzibar

You can’t go wrong with pizzas and coke on vacation. I’m sure everyone could tell we were American.

La Gemma Hotel Beach Zanzibar

Their bar was amazing. Sat on stilts out in the water with a thatch roof, perfectly situated for sunsets and sundowners.

La Gemma Hotel Beach Zanzibar

Absolutely stunning.

Our one day of relaxing in the sun was just what we needed. By the next morning, we were ready for another adventure. As we drove through Stone Town one last time on the way to the airport, I said to Dave we will definitely be back here. It’s such a magical, and escapist kind of vibe there…truly SO special. Writing this has made me so nostalgic! I hope you all get a chance to go someday!

Next up…Nairobi, Kenya- here we come!

 

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Stone Town Zanzibar
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