On a Beach in Zanzibar

Three weeks ago, I was on a beach in Zanzibar. It was nice.

Nungwi-sunset2

Sunset on a beach in Zanzibar. 

My friend Michelle and I stayed on the northern end of the island, near a village called Nungwi, at a hotel called Sazani Beach Lodge.

Sazani-chalet

Our room at Sazani Beach Lodge.

Sazani-room

My amazing four-poster bed at Sazani. Every hotel bed in Zanzibar looks something like this — Zanzibari woodwork is magnificent.

Our stay at Sazani Beach Lodge was interesting. The hotel’s website says “Feel like a castaway at our 10-room beach lodge…” We really did feel like castaways because we were the only two guests at the hotel for the entire four days we stayed there.

(Incidentally, the entire island seemed relatively empty of tourists, despite the fact that it was the beginning of high season. Michelle was there at the same time three years ago and said it was way more crowded back then. So I’m not sure what’s going on — we asked several locals and no one had an answer for why tourism seemed down. I hope it picks up because this is an amazing place to visit and the island relies heavily on tourism.)

Being the sole guests was cool in a way — we had the entire deserted beach to ourselves, with hardly a boat or a pedestrian in sight — but it was a bit creepy sitting alone in the restaurant for every meal, with no one to interact with except Mwenzi the cat, Juakali the dog, and each other. Eventually we also befriended a chicken out of desperation.

Mwenzi

Mwenzi the cat. Don’t be deceived by the cute face and spindly legs: Mwenzi is the supreme ruler of Sazani. 

Juakali

Juakali the dog. He liked to walk with us on the beach. He also liked to eat scraps from our plates, but only when we distracted Mwenzi long enough for Juakali to eat. Otherwise Mwenzi chased Juakali away and kept the spoils all for himself.

The lodge was satisfactory in most respects: The rooms were spotless, the beds were comfortable, the food was fresh and well prepared. But the place also felt neglected and forgotten. The staff initially put us in a cramped room directly next to reception, which made no sense as we were the only guests. We eventually got ourselves moved to a spot closer to the beach, which was lovely.

But then there was the bathroom. I wish I’d taken a photo of the bathroom because it’s hard to explain how woeful it was. Peeling paint, taps coming loose from the wall, minimal water pressure, and a toilet that…well….a toilet that wasn’t up to the job. I’ll leave out the graphic detail but let me say this: Each day Michelle and I made a morning pilgrimage to the upscale hotel next door, for the express purpose of using the upscale toilets.

All that said, we had a lot of fun at Sazani and I’m glad we stayed there. The beach, despite Sazani’s mediocre beach chairs (all three of them), is incredible.

Zanzibar-ocean

Sazani Beach at low tide.

I spent my birthday at Sazani and celebrated with my first-ever henna tattoo.

Henna

A lady named Salama paints my arm with henna. It took less than five minutes and the tattoo lasted for about ten days.

When we got bored at Sazani, and when Michelle wasn’t scuba-diving, we took a $5 taxi ride (or walked 20-30 minutes) to Nungwi Beach village. Nungwi is normally a big party spot on the island, but it was quiet when we were there. We passed the time watching Wimbledon on TV at a beachside bar or sitting at one of many restaurants by the water, eating cheap but delicious seafood curry and pizza topped with prawns.

Soccer

Soccer on Nungwi Beach. The only problem with this beach is it’s impossible to walk on it without being accosted by “beach boys” trying to sell you souvenirs and sunset cruises. Most of them left us alone after one polite decline, but it was sometimes necessary to decline more aggressively. 

Nungwi-shop

A shop on the beach in Nungwi.

Good-life

“Good Life Never Come Like a Dream.” Our favorite shop sign in Nungwi Village.

Girls-in-fabric-shop

Magdalena (top) and Jetfeder (bottom), whose mom works at the “New Happy Tailoring & Gift Shop” in Nungwi. I bought myself some Dutch wax print fabric there.

All in all we loved our stay in Nungwi and I would definitely go back, although I’m also curious to try out some other beach spots in Zanzibar. And next time I’m going to try to find a hotel with better toilets.

Nungwi-sunset

I miss you, Zanzibar.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Lani July 29, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Such amazing pictures. I don’t know how you do it! Love the blue color at low tide.

    • Reply 2summers July 29, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks so much, Lani. Haha, I don’t know either! But Zanzibar is a really pretty place so that helps 🙂

  • Reply Sine July 30, 2015 at 12:04 am

    I also love the low tide picture best. I have some great pictures from Zanzibar as well. Something about the colors there, and of course the dhows at sunset are magnificent. Of course I also love that a toilet made an appearance in your story:-)

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