The area

Jam­bi­ani is situ­ated on the south-east shores of Zan­zib­ar, roughly an hour’s drive from the air­port and the island’s main town of Stone Town. It is an oddly elong­ated town­ship, around five kilo­metres from north to south, that really con­sists of nine sep­ar­ate vil­lages along the coast, which have grown to con­glom­er­ate into one town, named Jam­bi­ani, and with a total pop­u­la­tion of about 6,000 people. The vil­lages still carry their ori­gin­al names and retain a good deal of their dis­tinct, indi­vidu­al feel. Our vil­lage is Mwendaw­ima, loc­ated towards the south­ern end of Jam­bi­ani

Life every­where in Zan­zib­ar is char­ac­ter­ised by a calm and sans souci atti­tude, and nowhere is that the case more than in the small vil­lages. The loc­als are friendly and accom­mod­at­ing, recall­ing a sense of loc­al com­munity and zen liv­ing that is hard to find in our vibrant and ever-busy met­ro­poles, and liv­ing their lives remark­ably unspoilt by heavy tour­ism. When you stay with us, you will feel time slow down and your stress levels imme­di­ately start to drop.

Jam­bi­ani has two schools, a health clin­ic, res­taur­ants, loc­al shops (one of which doubles as a post office), and not least a pleth­ora of foot­ball fields. The Zan­zib­ari are crazy about foot­ball, and they always wel­come another par­ti­cipant in their games, so feel free to join in.

Note, how­ever, that there are no banks or ATMs out­side Stone Town — everything in Jam­bi­ani is cash only!

The island of Zanzibar

Most people prob­ably think of Zan­zib­ar as an island, but it is actu­ally an archipelago that con­sists of three large and a host of smal­ler islands, both inhab­ited and unin­hab­ited. The largest island is prop­erly called Ungu­ja, but it is more com­monly known simply as Zan­zib­ar or some­times, more romantic­ally, Spice Island. The island is approx­im­ately 85 km (53 mi) long and 39 km (24 mi) wide and loc­ated a good 35 km (23 mi) off the east­ern coast of main­land Tan­zania, due north of Dar es Salaam. The name ‘Zan­zib­ar’ is an Arab­ic word of Per­sian ori­gin mean­ing Black Coast.

The vast major­ity of the almost 900,000 people that live on the island speak Swahili nat­ively, with Eng­lish being a second lan­guage. Almost the entire pop­u­la­tion is Muslim, with a cer­tain level of admix­ture of ele­ments from tra­di­tion­al the Swahili and Masai cul­tures. More than a third live in the cap­it­al, which — just to con­fuse mat­ters more — is also called Zan­zib­ar (Town), loc­ated on the west coast of the island. Roughly speak­ing, Zan­zib­ar Town is divided into two parts: Stone Town, the old town centre, and Ng’ambo (Swahili for ‘the oth­er side’), the much lar­ger, new­er part that con­tains most res­id­en­tial and office build­ings.

The long-stand­ing vital part that Zan­zib­ar played as a trad­ing sta­tion and its tur­bu­lent colo­ni­al his­tory have con­spired to make espe­cially Stone Town a cul­tur­al melt­ing pot of Afric­an, Indi­an, European, and par­tic­u­larly Arab influ­ences, while the archi­tec­ture is pre­dom­in­antly Brit­ish colo­ni­al from the 19th cen­tury. Take a trip back­wards in time by strolling through this labyrinth of yes­teryear, with its nar­row, wind­ing roads, hand-carved wooden doors, count­less back­street shops, and not least the great bazaar where spices, fruits, veget­ables, meat, and freshly caught sea­food are sold and bartered every day.

Eating in Jambiani

Jambiani is a beach town. All five kilometres of its narrow expanse are right on the ocean, and both the ocean and the beach play a vital role in local life.

The locals live their lives dictated by the ebb and the flow of the tide. At low tide, the women work in their ‘seaweed fields’ on the exposed parts of the beach, and the fishermen walk around on the uncovered coral reefs catching fish and squid. At high tide, the women carry their seaweed harvests into town to process and sell, and the fishermen bring their catch of the day ashore, most commonly selling it right on the beach—you’ll find no fresher fish anywhere!

It is perhaps not surprising with this dependence on the ocean and the beach that fish, squid, and seafood are very heavily represented in Zanzibari cooking; in fact, they form the centre of the majority of dishes you’ll find both in restaurants and in private homes.

Hassan makes the best food in Jambiani
Hassan makes the best food in Jambiani

Eating on the beach

There are several restaurants and bars scattered along the beach, catering especially to tourists. You can be sure the fish and seafood you get here will be fresh and locally caught. If you’re looking for something non-oceanic, you can get poultry, beef, and vegetarian dishes, too. Most places sell beer and wine, despite the population being predominantly Muslim.

Booking in advance is recommended to avoid long waits.

Eating in town

In the main town of Jambiani itself is where most locals eat, and prices tend to be (even) lower in town than on the beach. A standard meal will set you back a little over €5 / $6 / £4.5, and a pint of local beer about a third of that.

The best food in town is had at Chez Hassan, run by Hassan himself (that’s him on the right there, looking very happy outside his restaurant)—we highly recommend eating there!

Tours and water sports

If you want to travel around Zan­zib­ar, tak­ing in the won­der­ful nature and loc­al tra­di­tions of the island, we can help you arrange an array of tours.

Some of the tours have guides that take you around, while oth­ers are more inde­pend­ent tours where loc­als from the vari­ous sights you see show you around along the way.

Among the most pop­ular tours are:

  • the spice tour
  • the dol­phin tour
  • Blue Safari
  • snork­ling
  • Joz­ani Forest
  • Pris­on Island

We can arrange all of these and more for you while you stay with us. You do not have to book ahead, but you should let Dude know at least the day before you wish to go so that we can arrange things.

Renting kites, kayaks, etc.

Along the beach there are many places that offer rent­al of kites for kite-surf­ing, paddle boards, kayaks, and oth­er forms of recre­ation­al tools for mov­ing around in the water. Coach­ing for activ­it­ies like kite-surf­ing is also avail­able.

If you want to rent any­thing along those lines, just talk to us and we’ll help you find a good place to rent it.