Tanzania: Beaches & Coast line

Zanzibar

The Swahili Coast is mainland Tanzania’s eastern coastline. Its name derives from the Arabic word for coast. As you travel along the coastline, the landscape strikes a balance among natural beauty, rich history, culture, and art.

Initially, the coast was composed of small fishing villages that eventually formed a network of thriving cities and towns as international trade grew. For many European explorers and missionaries, and Arabic, Persian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Japanese traders and adventurers, the cost was the point of entry from which to explore the hinterlands. Sadly, it was also the point of departure for many slaves who were sold and taken to faraway places.

Just a few kilometres to the west of this coast line are three islands ; Zanzibar, Mafia , and Pemba. Zanzibar was the center of the infamous slave and ivory trade in East Africa.  The island’s fame and beauty mesmerized the Sultan of Oman, who designated Zanzibar his capital in the 19th century.  The “Beit-el Ajaib” (House of Wonders) was the Sultan’s palace.

Pemba is small and lush, with winding hill roads, beautiful clove plantations, and forests and dense vegetation at its interior. At one point, it was the world’s top clove producer (about 80%).  So magical is the Island , that in the 1930s it was  known as a place of sorcery and magic, and bullfighting, a popular local sport, was imported by Portuguese invaders clear back in the 17th century. 

Mafia Island is  enclosed by a barrier reef rich with marine life.  It is said that the name derives from the ancient Yemeni tribe, Ma-fir, who controlled the area in 1000 B.C.  The island has stunning beaches and is certainly the  Indian Ocean’s best kept diving secret.